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Supreme Court Upholds the Denial of Voice Recognition Software for Workers’ Compensation Claimant

In Morisseau v. Hannaford Brothers, 2016 VT 17 (February 12, 2016), the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the decision that an employer was not required to pay for voice recognition technology after the claimant had returned to suitable employment.

Issue: Claimant appealed the determination that she had obtained suitable employment and the denial of voice recognition software as either a vocational rehabilitation benefit or medical benefit.

Holding: After reviewing the relevant definitions and tests, the Court held that the employer had established that the claimant had returned to suitable employment and so was no longer eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits, including the voice recognition software. Although the vocational rehabilitation counselor opined that claimant’s job security and suitability were not firmly established, there was no evidence of a reasonably imminent threat to the continuity of Claimant’s jobs. The Court also affirmed the denial of the software as a medical benefit because that there was insufficient evidence in the record to determine if there was a genuine dispute. It declined to determine if voice recognition software could ever be considered a medical benefit.

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