Pennsylvania diocese loses workers compensation appeal

In a slip-and-fall case involving a 72-year-old diocesan priest, Fr. James Mulligan, the Allentown, Pa., diocese, which self-insures for workers' compensation, claimed it was not responsible for 100 percent of the bills charged by the Lehigh Valley Health Network for acute care provided to Fr. James Mulligan for immediately life-threatening or urgent injuries at the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.

The total cost of in-patient care was $406,338.79. The diocese paid only $142,196, short-changing Lehigh Valley Health Network more than $260,000.

The workers' compensation hearing officer ruled that the diocese owed the full amount. The diocese appealed the ruling and lost.

Read the whole opinion here.

Like workers' compensation, some dioceses self-insure for unemployment benefits. In June 2009, I wrote a story about whether dioceses carry unemployment insurance, whether they self-insure or whether fired church employees are out of luck and receive no unemployment benefits.

"Unless a church voluntarily establishes its own policy to pay unemployment taxes, former employees can be terminated and receive no unemployment benefits.

"With the shuttering of Catholic parishes and schools and dioceses downsizing in many parts of the country, church employees need to know whether or not they have unemployment benefits.

"Mary Jo Moran, executive director of the Cincinnati-based National Association of Church Personnel Administrators, undertook in March a survey of diocesan human resource professionals on the question of unemployment benefits.

Forty-five responded as follows:

  • 13 dioceses participate in state unemployment programs;

  • 12 dioceses participate in state programs on a reimbursement basis;

  • 20 do not participate in any state unemployment program."

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