Winslow v. The Aroostook Medical Center
October 11, 2017
CategoriesAverage Weekly Wage
Nurse AWW Fowler Post-Injury Earnings
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Ms. Winslow was a full-time nurse who temporarily work part-time after returning from maternity leave. She injured her right shoulder while working part-time. Although TAMC had provided comparable wage statements of other part-time workers, Judge Pelletier calculated her pre-injury average weekly wage (AWW) by referring to her entire prior year’s earnings, when she had worked full-time, rather than referring only to her earnings during her new part-time schedule, and TAMC appealed.
The Appellate Division panel noted that the AWW must be calculated “at the time of the injury” to give a fair and reasonable estimate of what the employee would have been able to earn in the absence of a work injury. TAMC argued for the application of the Maine Supreme Court's decision in Fowler, which held that the AWW for a part-time clerk who recently was promoted to a full-time manager should be calculated only on the employee’s new full-time wage, not on his prior part-time wages. The Appellate Division panel distinguished Fowler, pointing out that Ms. Winslow did not take on any new or different responsibilities – she merely reduced her hours temporarily while working for the same employer. In reaching this result, it may have been important that Ms. Winslow eventually returned to her full time position.
While the Appellate Division panel upheld Judge Pelletier’s AWW calculations, it remanded the case back to him for findings on Ms. Winslow’s concurrent employment and on whether her post-injury earnings were reduced because of her work injury or simply because of her voluntary choice to work part-time. This case suggests that careful and creative strategies can help manage claims in which family leave issues are involved.