Workers’ Compensation: Which State has Jurisdiction?
Which State has jurisdiction (legal authority) to address a work related injury is a question that comes up often in our practice. This is particularly common because we live in an area of the country where workers frequently live in one state and work in another.
In a recent case Marconi v. United Airlines, the Appellate Division court in New Jersey addressed an issue where the injured worker, Mr. Marconi, lived in New Jersey and was injured while working for United Airlines in Philadelphia. He filed two workers’ compensation cases in New Jersey, and the employer disputed that New Jersey had jurisdiction over the claims. The facts showed that Mr. Marconi was hired by United Airlines in San Francisco, lived continuously in New Jersey throughout his employment, and was transferred to work in Philadelphia. During the time Mr. Marconi worked in Philadelphia, his supervisor worked out of the Newark Airport. Mr. Marconi would call United staff at the Newark Airport hub for technical advice, but he never worked in Newark himself. He had received training all over the world, including the Newark Airport hub.
There are 6 factors to look at when deciding which state is responsible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Place where the injury occurred;
Place of making the work contract;
Place where the employment relationship exists;
Place where the industry is localized;
Place where the employee resides;
Place whose statute the parties expressly adopted by contract.
In this case, the issue was whether the fact that Mr. Marconi lived in New Jersey, along with United Airlines presence at the Newark Airport, gave New Jersey the jurisdiction to decide his workers’ compensation case. The court found that Mr. Marconi’s contacts with United’s Newark hub were to advance Marconi’s ability to do his job in Philadelphia.
The court stated the following: “Essentially, nothing in the course of Marconi’s two-decade employment with United advanced the company’s localized interests in New Jersey. In these circumstances, although United maintained a localized business interest in Newark, New Jersey has no substantial interest in exercising its jurisdiction over the petitioner.” Therefore Mr. Marconi’s workers’ compensation claims in New Jersey were dismissed because New Jersey did not have jurisdiction to address the claims.
Although the Court did not expressly state why Mr. Marconi wanted to file his claims in New Jersey, it might be inferred that he wanted to do so because in New Jersey, an injured worker can return to his or her job and still receive a settlement for an injury sustained at work. In Pennsylvania, this is not the case.