Posted on Mar 04, 2012
In this case, we must determine whether the Workers’
Compensation Commissioner (commissioner) erred in concluding that
light duty employment offered to an injured worker was not “suitable
work” under Iowa Code section 85.33(3) (2009) because the offered
employment was located 387 miles from the residence of the worker.
The distance between the proffered work and Neal’s residence was 387 miles.
Although Neal was an over-the-road truck driver, which often required
him to spend extended periods of time away from home, Neal testified
that before the injury he ordinarily spent each weekend at home with his
wife and three children, and occasionally he returned home during the
week. Had Neal accepted the work in Des Moines, he would have only
been able to return home every other weekend—cutting his time at home
in half. As observed by the commissioner, “Being away from the support
of your wife and family, especially while recovering from a serious work
injury, is not an insignificant matter.” Further, there is no evidence in
the record establishing that Neal agreed as a condition of employment to
any relocation that Annett Holdings might require.
See Serwetnyk v.USAir, Inc., 671 N.Y.S.2d 537, 538 (App. Div. 1998). Based on the
evidence, we are satisfied substantial evidence supports the
commissioner’s findings of fact. See Litzinger v. W.C.A.B., 731 A.2d 258,262–63 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1999)
(holding as a matter of law that light-duty
work offered to former over-the-road truck driver was “totally
unreasonable” when work was located 116 miles away from claimant’s
residence even though the employer offered to provide a motel room).