At issue before the Georgia Supreme Court recently was whether to include a second job in determining the amount an employee should be paid after suffering a work-related injury at the first job. Under Georgia law, the average weekly wage is calculated by examining the employee’s earnings over the 13 weeks immediately before the injury. In the case before the Court, the injured employee argued that her second job, similar in nature to the job at which she suffered a compensable injury, should be factored into her average weekly wage. The Supreme Court held that wages the employee earned in her second job in the prior 13 weeks before her injury should be factored into her average weekly wage, and therefore her workers’ compensation benefits.
Merita Thomas worked as a school bus driver with the Fulton County Board of Education since 2008. She drove buses during the nine months of the school year but received her salary over a 12-month period. During summer vacation, she worked at Quality Drive Away (“QDA”)as a driver of manufactured school buses from the Atlanta area to other parts of the country. Her employment there ended on July 30, 2011, and she returned to her position with Fulton County.
On October 19, 2011, Ms. Thomas was injured while working for Fulton County. She filed a workers’ compensation claim. The County did not dispute the compensability of her injury but did argue that the proper calculation of her weekly wage should not include her position as a driver at QDA.