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Gilmore v. Director, Department of Labor Restates the Law Surrounding an Appeal for Georgia Workers’ Compensation

Georgia workers’ compensation laws can be very confusing because they vary depending on who the employer is. Our experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys understand the nuances in this area of law and we can help protect your rights in a work-injury claim.
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The U.S. federal government has a special series of laws addressing the work accidents of federal government employees. This act is called the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA).

FECA is a comprehensive workers’ compensation plan for federal civilian employees who have been injured or killed while executing their work duties. Gilmore v. Director, Department of Labor, No. 11-12747 (11th Cir. Feb. 6, 2012); see also Nobel v. United States, 216 F.3d 1229, 1234 (11 Cir. 2000).

Gilmore v. Director, Department of Labor is a workers’ compensation case coming from the Eleventh Circuit. Gilmore (plaintiff) was an employee of the U.S. federal government who was injured while he was performing his job duties. Because of his status as a federal employee, the FECA was the applicable statute governing his petition process and the review process. Plaintiff completed a petition for workers’ compensation and supplemented this petition with factual and medical evidence to support his claims. The Workers’ Compensation Board heard his claims and rejected both his initial petition for back pay and interest, and his appeal of this initial rejection.

Plaintiff argued that by failing to provide him with an award for back pay and interest, the Board had violated his right to property. Furthermore, plaintiff argued that the Board failed to comply with his constitutional rights to substantive and procedural due process of laws.

Defendants argued that the court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear this case because this was a federal workers’ compensation claim that was governed by FECA and the applicable workers’ compensation channels.

The FECA governs work related injuries suffered by federal employees. This Act provides the injured employee with certain benefits under the program such as monetary benefits, wage-loss benefits, and even medical benefits and vocational rehabilitation. FECA specifies that the person responsible for all determinations surrounding this Act is the Secretary of Labor (Secretary). After adoption, the Secretary delegated the authority over FECA claims to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP).

FECA applies to all U.S. civilian employees who are paid with appropriated government funds. The types of employees covered were extended to include the following: Peace Corps and VISTA volunteers; federal petit or grand jurors; volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol; Reserve Officer Training Corp cadets; and non-federal law enforcement officers.

The court in Gilmore cites relevant law that stipulates that decisions made by the Secretary or the Secretary’s agents are no appealable to an outside court except where their actions are a violation of a statute or where there is a violation of the petitioner’s constitutional rights. Basically, the decision of the Secretary or OWCP cannot be appealed unless they violated the constitution or statute in their determination. This shows why it is so important to prepare a thoughtful petition initially to receive the best possible award.

Although the plaintiff argued that the Secretary and the OWCP violated his due process rights, the court held that there was no violation of plaintiff’s rights because he had notice of the review and he had an opportunity to be heard in a meaningful manner at a meaningful time. Thus, because the decision and the way the decision was made were in compliance with FECA and the constitution, their decision was final and the court could not review it on a factual basis.

If you have been injured on the job, contact your Georgia Worker’s Compensation Attorneys at J. Franklin Burns, P.C. to schedule a free appointment. Call 404-303-7770.

Additional Resources:

Gilmore v. Director, Department of Labor, No. 11-12747 (11th Cir. Feb. 6, 2012).

Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), 5 U.S.C. §1801.