October 29, 2020

Employee's failure to the give employer give due notice of the accident and other factors defeats employee's claim for a benefit arising from the collective bargaining agreement

Petitioner [Plaintiff] filed a petition pursuant to CPLR Article asking the Supreme Court  to annul the New York City Transit Authority's [NYCTA] decision to deny her differential pay for an injury she allegedly sustained while flying to Nevada for a training course. Plaintiff had traveled to Nevada on September 25 and attended the training course through September 28. On the evening of September 28, she sought treatment for bilateral calf pain and was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis [DVT], which was allegedly caused by the long flight. Plaintiff notified her supervisor of the diagnosis on September 29, and ultimately received Worker's Compensation benefits for her injury.

On the following January 9, Plaintiff submitted a request for "differential pay," a benefit available to NYCTA employees under the collective bargaining agreement between Plaintiff's union and NYCTA. NYCTA denied Plaintiff's request contending [1] Plaintiff had reported the injury late and [2] Plaintiff was not engaged in a workplace activity when she sustained the injury.

The Appellate Division affirmed Supreme Court's determination that NYCTA's decision denying Plaintiff's request for the "differential pay" benefit was supported by a rational basis noting that "[t]he rules for receiving differential pay state that the employee must have sustained an accidental injury while engaged in the performance of his/her assigned duty for NYCTA, and such accidental injury was the direct cause of the employee's incapacity for work." Further, said the court, the rules require, among other things, "that the employee give due notice of the accident" and NYCTA reasonably found that Plaintiff "failed to provide timely notice of her injury, as she reported it four days after her flight." Nor did she specify that her injury was work-related but stated only that her  medical condition required time off from work.

In addition, the Appellate Division opined that Plaintiff failed to meet the other requirements for the "differential pay" benefit as there was "uncertainty regarding whether she was engaged in an assigned work activity when the injury occurred, since traveling to work is not considered a workplace activity," citing Greene v City of New York Dept. of Social Servs., 44 NY2d 322, and Plaintiff's "medical records showed that she had a personal history of DVT and other comorbidities."

The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2020/2020_05131.htm

 

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