An employee's firing does not bar workers' compensation benefits if the claimant's evidence demonstrates that his or her disability caused the subsequent inability to find work, the Court of Special Appeals has ruled. The court's ruling stems from a lawsuit involving an injured worker receiving benefits who was fired after his assertion that he had not worked for a business he owned on the side was contradicted by video surveillance.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) had appealed a Circuit Court for Prince George's County decision against it in a worker's compensation lawsuit. Robert Washington had been fired for claiming that he was unable to work after an injury to his back while employed as WMATA as a truck operator. However, video surveillance introduced at the Workers' Compensation Commission hearing to determine Washington's continued receipt of temporary total disability payments showed that he was working as a driver for his stretch limousine service two days before the hearing. Washington specifically denied that he had not worked those days. The Commission ruled against Washington, although Washington was later awarded permanent partial disability amounting to 22 percent industrial loss of use of his body because of the injury to his back.
Dissatisfied with the award, Washington asked for judicial review of the Commission's decision. WMATA did not challenge the award; but, before trial, WMATA asked the court to exclude all evidence Washington planned to present concerning his past and current income as the owner of the limousine service and his past or present loss of income resulting from his termination of employment with WMATA.