WMC Lauds Landmark Worker's Comp Ruling; Court Retains Definition of Wages For Claims

Apr 03, 2001, 01:00 ET from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

    MADISON, Wis., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The state's largest business group
 Tuesday praised a unanimous Supreme Court ruling that protects the Wisconsin
 worker's compensation system by excluding benefits from the definition of
 wages for claims.
     "This is a major victory for businesses and workers because it protects
 the system that pays injured workers and avoids protracted litigation," said
 James A. Buchen, vice president of government relations for Wisconsin
 Manufacturers & Commerce.
     WMC filed a friend of the court brief in the case -- Theuer v. Labor &
 Industry Review Commission.  William R. Sachse Jr. of Peterson, Johnson &
 Murray of Milwaukee delivered oral arguments to the court for WMC.
     The court ruled that the Legislature never intended fringe benefits to be
 counted as wages in determining worker's compensation benefit levels.  Chief
 Justice Shirley Abrahmson wrote the unanimous opinion of the court.
     "Allowing fringe benefits to be included with wages for worker's
 compensation would increase costs by 30 percent for Wisconsin businesses,"
 Buchen said.  "The system currently provides swift payments to workers without
 protracted litigation and was never intended to include fringe benefits as
 wages."
     Steven Theuer suffered a workplace injury October 29, 1997 at Ganton
 Technologies, Inc. The Department of Workforce Development refused to include
 benefits as part of his wage calculation for worker's compensation.  The
 ruling was upheld by an administrative law judge, the Labor & Industry Review
 Commission and a Racine County Circuit Court.
     The Supreme Court agreed, and said including benefits in worker's
 compensation claims would create new and increased costs for businesses, and
 would be complex and costly for DWD to calculate.
 
 

SOURCE Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
    MADISON, Wis., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The state's largest business group
 Tuesday praised a unanimous Supreme Court ruling that protects the Wisconsin
 worker's compensation system by excluding benefits from the definition of
 wages for claims.
     "This is a major victory for businesses and workers because it protects
 the system that pays injured workers and avoids protracted litigation," said
 James A. Buchen, vice president of government relations for Wisconsin
 Manufacturers & Commerce.
     WMC filed a friend of the court brief in the case -- Theuer v. Labor &
 Industry Review Commission.  William R. Sachse Jr. of Peterson, Johnson &
 Murray of Milwaukee delivered oral arguments to the court for WMC.
     The court ruled that the Legislature never intended fringe benefits to be
 counted as wages in determining worker's compensation benefit levels.  Chief
 Justice Shirley Abrahmson wrote the unanimous opinion of the court.
     "Allowing fringe benefits to be included with wages for worker's
 compensation would increase costs by 30 percent for Wisconsin businesses,"
 Buchen said.  "The system currently provides swift payments to workers without
 protracted litigation and was never intended to include fringe benefits as
 wages."
     Steven Theuer suffered a workplace injury October 29, 1997 at Ganton
 Technologies, Inc. The Department of Workforce Development refused to include
 benefits as part of his wage calculation for worker's compensation.  The
 ruling was upheld by an administrative law judge, the Labor & Industry Review
 Commission and a Racine County Circuit Court.
     The Supreme Court agreed, and said including benefits in worker's
 compensation claims would create new and increased costs for businesses, and
 would be complex and costly for DWD to calculate.
 
 SOURCE  Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce