Penn. Sup. Ct. on Workers' Comp: Cruz v. Kennett Square Specialties

Penn. Sup. Ct. on Workers' Comp: Cruz v. Kennett Square Specialties

"In this appeal, we are asked to address the proper allocation of the burden of proof as between an employer and a workers’ compensation claimant regarding the injured employee’s legal eligibility under federal immigration law to obtain suitable employment whenever the employer seeks to suspend workers’ compensation disability benefits.  For the reasons that follow, we hold that the Commonwealth Court correctly determined that Appellant, Kennett Square Specialties (“Employer”), bore the burden to prove that the loss of earning power of its injured employee, David Cruz (“Claimant”) was due to his lack of United States citizenship or other legal work authorization in order to obtain a suspension of his workers’ compensation disability benefits.  We further hold that Claimant’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned at the hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Judge (“WCJ”) did not constitute substantial evidence of Claimant’s alleged lack of legal authorization to be employed in the United States, and thus could not, standing alone, furnish sufficient evidence for the WCJ to suspend Claimant’s benefits. We therefore affirm the decision of the Commonwealth Court." - Cruz v. Kennett Square Specialties, July 21, 2014.