A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Light Duty – Harbatuk v. S&S Furniture Systems Insulation

By on July 7, 2011 in Compensability with 0 Comments

In addition to terminating temporary disability benefits on maximal medical improvement, an employer can terminate such benefits when the employee can return to work light or modified duty under Harbatuk v. S & S Furniture Systems Insulation, 211 N.J. Super. 614 (App. Div. 1986). The basic rule which emerges from Harbatuk is this:  the employer has to offer a light-duty job to the employee in order to terminate temporary disability benefits. If the employee rejects the light-duty offer, the employer can still terminate temporary disability benefits. Obviously, the light-duty job has to be one that is safe for the employee to perform. A functional capacity exam (FCE) can be of real assistance in determining whether the employee can safely perform the light-duty job.

Light duty is not defined in the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act. A better term would be transitional duty since an employee may resent the implication that the temporary duty is “light.” Another term used is “temporary alternative duty” or “modified duty.” Whatever the terminology, the light-duty phase is the bridge between being out of work and full duty.

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About the Author

About the Author:

John H. Geaney, a shareholder and co-chair of Capehart Scatchard's Workers' Compensation department, began an email newsletter entitled Currents in Workers’ Compensation, ADA and FMLA in 2001 in order to keep clients and readers informed on leading developments in these three areas of law. Since that time he has written over 500 newsletter updates.

Mr. Geaney is the author of Geaney’s New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Manual for Practitioners, Adjusters & Employers. The manual is distributed by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE). He also authored an ADA and FMLA manual as distributed by NJICLE. If you are interested in purchasing the manual, please contact NJICLE at 732-214-8500 or visit their website at www.njicle.com.

Mr. Geaney represents employers in the defense of workers’ compensation, ADA and FMLA matters. He is a Fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers of the American Bar Association and is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a workers’ compensation law attorney. He is one of two firm representatives to the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. He has served on the Executive Committee of Capehart Scatchard for over ten (10) years.

A graduate of Holy Cross College summa cum laude, Mr. Geaney obtained his law degree from Boston College Law School. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” by his peers and Law and Politics. He serves as Vice President of the Friends of MEND, the fundraising arm of a local charitable organization devoted to promoting affordable housing.

Capehart Scatchard is a full service law firm with offices in Mt. Laurel and Trenton, New Jersey. The firm represents employers and businesses in a wide variety of areas, including workers’ compensation, civil litigation, labor, environmental, business, estates and governmental affairs.

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