April 21, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Time Spent as Volunteer Firefighter Counts as Employment for Workers’ Comp Purposes

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in City & County of Denver v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

Firefighter—Cancer—Employment—Volunteer—Training—Workers’ Compensation—Home Rule Municipality.

Claimant is a first-grade firefighter for the Denver Fire Department. He was hired by Denver on October 1, 2004. Before taking his oath of office as a firefighter in February 2005, claimant completed a seventeen-week course at the Rocky Mountain Fire Academy as a probationary firefighter for Denver. Claimant also garnered four years’ experience as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Elbert Fire Protection District before entering the fire academy. On February 12, 2010, claimant was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits under CRS § 8-41-209 for his cancer treatments, invoking the statute’s presumption that certain cancers contracted by firefighters with five or more years of service are compensable occupational diseases. The administrative law judge (ALJ) found in favor of claimant and the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (Panel) agreed. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

On appeal, Denver contended that the ALJ and Panel misinterpreted CRS § 8-41-209(1) by including in the length of claimant’s “employment as a firefighter” both (a) the entire time claimant served as volunteer firefighter and (b) his time training at the fire academy. It argued that it did not “employ” claimant as a firefighter, within the meaning of § 8-41-209(1), until he took his oath of office as a firefighter in February 2005. However, the definition of “employee” set out in the Workers’ Compensation Act expressly includes “all members of volunteer fire departments.” By including volunteer firefighters in the definition of “employee,” the legislature made clear its intent that injuries sustained by volunteer firefighters in the course and scope of their volunteer work be compensable under the Act. Accordingly, the Panel did not err in finding that length of firefighting service under § 8-41-209 should begin to run from the date on which a volunteer firefighter fights his or her first actual or training fire, including time spent at the fire academy.

Denver also contended that its status as a home rule municipality gives it the right and authority to define “firefighter” and “probationary firefighter” as it sees fit. The scope of “employment as a firefighter” under the firefighter cancer presumption statute and workers’ compensation benefits are considered a matter of state-wide concern, which a home rule municipality may not supersede.

Summary and full case available here.

HB 13-1040: Changing the Way in Which PERA Benefits are Calculated

On Wednesday, January 9, 2013, Rep. Kevin Priola introduced HB 13-1040 – Concerning an Increase in the Number of Years Used to Calculate the Highest Average Salary of a Member of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association for the Purpose of Determining the Amount of the Member’s Retirement Benefit. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Current law averages the three highest annual salaries of a member of the public employees’ retirement association (PERA) when calculating that member’s retirement benefit amount. The bill increases the number of highest annual salaries used from three to seven for anyone who was not a member, inactive member, or retiree of PERA as of Dec. 31, 2013. The bill is assigned to the Finance and Appropriations Committees.

“Law Suit Days” Clothing Drive on October 10 and 11, 2012

The Denver Bar Association Young Lawyers Division is holding its “Law Suit Days” clothing drive for new and gently used professional and business clothing, shoes, and accessories on October 10 and 11, 2012. The business clothing will be given to Bayaud Enterprises, Inc., a local nonprofit that provides vocational and job placement services for individuals with disabilities and to homeless or low-income individuals and families.

The clothing drive will take place on Wednesday, October 10, and Thursday, October 11, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the steps of the Denver City & County Building  at 1437 Bannock. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved inside the City & County Building to the second floor of the rotunda.

Clothing should be clean and on hangers. Volunteers from the Young Lawyers Division will be available to collect the donations at the City & County Building. They will not be able to pick up clothing or accept donations on alternate dates.

Vivian Manning: LinkedIn Jobs – If You Post It, They Will Come

I just hired a great new employee using LinkedIn Jobs. It turned out to be an incredibly easy and effective way to identify good candidates and fill the position with a minimum of effort. Deciding between candidates was the only tough part of the process! How did it work? Here are the basics of conducting a LinkedIn search for a new employee.

Searching for a New Hire

Not knowing what to expect, I headed straight to Post a Job in LinkedIn’s Jobs section, and found that the process couldn’t have been easier. I also found that the monthly price for posting a job was very reasonable at $195 for a month—less than the local newspaper want ads, and the reach was wider. Compared to other online services, the price was more reasonable and the reach more focused, too.

  • Build a firm profile. Since job postings are tied into LinkedIn company profiles, you will need to set up your firm profile right away if you don’t already have one. Go to the LinkedIn Learning Center’s Company Pages if you need assistance. It’s free and you’ll use it for other things in the future.
  • Post your opening. Actually, posting the job is simply a “follow the steps” routine, but if you want you can review the process at the LinkedIn Learning Center’s Post a Job link. It’s good to know, for example, that if you make an error in the posting, you can go back and edit it. When you’ve completed the job details and are ready to post, just whip out your credit card and pay online. Applicants reviewing the job posting will not see your email address, so you have no worries about being inundated with emails and phone calls. In fact, all of your personal information is hidden.
  • Watch the applications roll in. People applying for the job are asked to upload their resume, cover letter and references as part of their application. Once someone applies, LinkedIn Jobs will send you an email with a summary of the applicant’s LinkedIn Profile, along with all the documents the applicant submitted. You have the ability to click through to their full profile. Also, each email includes a link to view all of the candidates applying for the job to date. You’ll use that!
  • Schedule the interviews. That’s the end of the LinkedIn involvement. Once you receive the emails with profiles and resumes, you can proceed as usual to contact applicants and arrange interviews.

My recent LinkedIn job posting triggered 21 responses, every one qualified for the position. In a small city with a population of about 150,000 that’s an amazing response. Given the ease and low cost of the posting, and the high quality of the applications, I will use LinkedIn Jobs in the future, without hesitation.

Oh, and if you’re on the other end of the job search process, seeking that perfect job, I encourage you to set up a full LinkedIn profile and set about reviewing the Job postings regularly. LinkedIn’s Learning Center has a great help page to get you started at Job Seekers.

Vivian Manning is the IT Manager at Burgar Rowe PC in Barrie, Bracebridge and Cookstown, Ontario. Prior to moving into IT, Vivian practiced law at Burgar Rowe primarily in the area of Municipal Land Development, with a total of 17 years in private practice. She currently indulges her love of teaching tech through her blog Small City Law Firm Tech, where she provides “tips of the day.” She also contributes to the Attorney at Work blog, where this post originally appeared on August 29, 2011.