Vocational: Return to Work Matters: Labor Market

Short v. J.H. Kelly Holdings, [09/24/09] 2009 MTWCC 33 The Court must employ a fact-driven analysis in determining a petitioner’s appropriate labor market for purposes of developing alternative job analyses pursuant to § 39-71-609, MCA. In this case the Court considered a number of factors to conclude that Shoreline, Washington, is the appropriate labor market including: (1) the petitioner permanently resided in Shoreline, Washington, from 1998 through the time of his injury in 2005; (2) the petitioner accepted millwright jobs throughout the Pacific Northwest, but returned to Shoreline as his residential base between 2003 and the time of his injury; (3) the petitioner worked in Montana only on a temporary basis, returned to Shoreline after his injury and testified that he would have stayed there for his recovery had he been able to locate a treating physician in the area; and (3) the petitioner moved from Shoreline to Clark Fork, Idaho, because he knew other millwrights living there and envisioned working as a millwright again after recovering from his injury.

Skiff v. Montana State Fund [03/06/09] 2009 MTWCC 8 Although the claimant was working in Havre at the time of his industrial accident, he resides in Malta and the evidence demonstrated that for the vast majority of his employment history, he worked in or very near Malta and had given notice to his employer that he was leaving the Havre job to take a job closer to home. The claimant’s labor market is therefore in or near Malta.

Campbell v. MCCF [8/20/03] 2003 MTWCC 58 A geographic job market is inherent when considering what claimant is capable of earning. The job market for a highway sign painter was the state of Montana, where he traveled throughout the state in his time of injury job. Even though he worked previously as an interstate truck driver, the Court would not consider interstate driving jobs where there was no evidence claimant actively sought post occupational disease employment as an interstate driver.
Campbell v. MCCF [8/20/03] 2003 MTWCC 58 In determining what a claimant is capable of earning, vocational consultants should focus on what the particular claimant is in fact capable of earning rather than theoretical wage ranges for workers generally.
Gates v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Co. [2/13/96] 1996 MTWCC 144A WCC refused to adopt bright-line rule that geographical area within 50 miles constituted any claimant's labor market. Each case must be decided on its own facts. Here, applying section 39-71-703, MCA (1993), Missoula was outside labor market of claimant residing south of Connor, Montana, approximately 80 miles south of Missoula. See also order of 12/29/95 in same case.
Gates v. Liberty NW Ins. Co. [12/29/95] 1995 MTWCC 114 When assessing wage loss for purposes of permanent partial disability benefits, court will not consider jobs not available within a reasonable distance of claimant’s home or which claimant would not be able to obtain and perform.