July 5, 2022

Volume XII, Number 186

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Minnesota Extends Workers’ Compensation Presumption for Frontline Workers Who Test Positive for COVID-19

On February 4, 2022, Governor Tim Walz signed House File (H.F.) 1203 into law, which extends the presumption that certain frontline healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 at work if they test positive. The prior presumption had expired on December 31, 2021. This extension applies to COVID-19 illnesses from February 4, 2022, through January 13, 2023. H.F. 1203 is not retroactive, so it does not grant a presumption to those who contracted COVID-19 between January 1, 2022, and February 3, 2022—the day before the effective date of the new law.

What is the presumption?

In 2020, Minnesota (among several other states) enacted legislation (Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15 (f)) that created a rebuttable presumption that employees working in certain health and public-safety fields contracted COVID-19 at work if they tested positive for the disease. H.F. 1203 reaffirms that presumption, allowing those employees to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for their illnesses unless their employers can rebut the presumption that they contracted the virus at work.

The law applies to

  • licensed peace officers under Stat. § 626.84, subd. 1;

  • firefighters;

  • paramedics;

  • nurses or health care workers, correctional officers, or security counselors employed by the state or a political subdivision at corrections, detention, or secure treatment facilities;

  • emergency medical technicians;

  • health care providers, nurses, or assistive employees employed in health care, home care, or long-term care settings, with direct COVID-19 patient care or ancillary work in COVID-19 patient units; and

  • workers required to provide child care to first responders and health care workers under Executive Order 20-02 and Executive Order 20-19.

How is the presumption rebutted?

Once an eligible employee tests positive for COVID-19, an employer may rebut the presumption of workers’ compensation coverage only if the employer or the workers’ compensation insurer shows that the individual’s job “was not a direct cause of the disease” and meets the denial requirements under Minn. Stat. § 176.221, subd. 1.

Takeaways

Employers with eligible employees under this law and workers’ compensation insurers may want to consider reviewing H.F. 1203’s extension of the rebuttable presumption provided by Minn. Stat. § 176.011, subd. 15 (f) and dusting off their prior contact tracing and illness investigation practices.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 46
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About this Author

Cynthia Bremer, Minneapolis, Office Shareholder, Employment, Labor, Attorney, Ogletree Deakins Law FIrm
Office Managing Shareholder

Cynthia Bremer is the managing shareholder of the Minneapolis office. Cynthia has extensive experience in employment law and complex litigation matters. Her practice focuses on representing corporations and corporate management in all types of employment law matters. While Cynthia’s primary focus has been employment litigation defense in federal and state courts throughout the Midwest, including class and collective actions, Cynthia also advises companies on critical employment law issues involving past and present employees. Further, Cynthia has litigated numerous restrictive covenants...

612-336-6868
Jody Ward-Rannow Attorney Corporate Law Ogletree Deakins Law Firm Minneapolis
Of Counsel

Jody Ward-Rannow represents large corporate clients and small local businesses in matters involving all aspects of labor and employment law including disability, race, and gender/pregnancy discrimination claims; retaliation claims; FMLA claims; workers’ compensation retaliation claims; non-compete/non-solicitation, and unfair competition claims; breach of contract claims; whistleblower retaliation claims, and discrimination lawsuits filed by the EEOC.

Additionally, Jody regularly partners with human resources professionals, business leaders and/...

612-336-6873
Colin Hargreaves Employment Lawyer Ogletree Deakins Law Firm
Associate

Colin is an associate in the Minneapolis office of Ogletree Deakins. Colin graduated from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where he earned Dean’s List honors several times and gained substantial hands-on litigation experience, including participating on one of the School’s Moot Court teams and arguing a motion before a Federal Bankruptcy Judge in one of the School’s Clinics. Colin received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin—Stout.

612-336-6860
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