Football Players – NOT Seasonal Employees

By Sandra Weigel Kokal

In follow-up to our prior posting – the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently issued its Decision regarding the precedent that professional football players are “seasonal employees” under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. In the case of Pittsburgh Steelers Sports Inc v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Trucks), Attorney Baumann had argued that Mr. Trucks signed a yearly contract with the Steelers and as such was required to perform year-round obligations for the team. In opposition, the Steelers had argued Mr. Trucks was just a seasonal employee. 

The Court agreed with Attorney Baumann’s arguments. In rejecting the Steelers’ arguments and prior case law, the Court stated the facts and terms of Mr. Truck’s contract demonstrate that he was not a seasonal employee. Specifically, the Court stated Mr. Trucks’ contract covered 2 football seasons and included a number of performance obligations, which included the following: attend all mini-camps, pre-season training, all meetings, practice sessions, all pre-season, regular season and postseason games, any all-star games, cooperate with news media, attend 10 assigned appearances a year, and he was prohibited from playing football outside of employment. In exchange for performing these obligations, he received a yearly salary for those 2 seasons. Trucks obligations did not limit his activities to just the regular football season; therefore, the Court stated his employment was NOT seasonal. 

Firm Founder Ed Abes Retires

As of January 1, 2020, founder and partner Ed Abes has retired after a more than 50-year career practicing law.

After graduating from Pennsylvania State University and Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Ed began his career working for the State Workers’ Insurance Fund as a Special Assistant Attorney General. In 1978, he decided to use his knowledge and experience of Workers’ Compensation to establish a law firm dedicated to fighting for injured workers.

Not long after opening the doors at Abes Baumann, Ed began representing injured professional athletes as a member of the Workers’ Compensation Panels of the National Football League Players Association, the National Hockey League Players Association, and the Professional Hockey Players Association. The Major League Baseball Players Association also recommends Abes Baumann to their injured players.

In addition to practicing law full-time, Ed has volunteered his time on a number of boards and committees including chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section Liaison Committee, which facilitates communication among the judges, administrators, and attorneys of the Workers’ Compensation judicial system. Ed is past president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and past treasurer of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.

Ed has won numerous industry awards and accolades during his career. In 2011, Ed was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance. Super Lawyers Magazine has listed him as one of the top 5% of lawyers in Pennsylvania since 2004 and also as one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Pittsburgh. He has been recognized continuously since 2004 by Best Lawyers in America as one of Pittsburgh’s Best Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.

On behalf of the entire firm at Abes Baumann, we thank Ed for his years of leadership, mentoring and friendship. We wish him all the best in his retirement.

Football Players –Seasonal Employees?


Recently, Abes Baumann participated in an en banc argument before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania revisiting the precedent that professional football players are “seasonal employees”under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. In the case of Pittsburgh Steelers Sports, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Trucks), Tom Baumann argued that Mr. Trucks signed a yearly contract with the Steelers and as a year-round employee was required to perform year-round obligations for the team. Therefore, Mr. Trucks workers’ compensation benefits should be based upon the contract he signed.

Below, theWorkers’ Compensation Judge and Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board ruled in Mr. Trucks favor, finding his workers’ compensation benefits should be based upon the contract he signed with the Steelers. The Steelers appealed arguing that Trucks was a “seasonal employee.” The Commonwealth Court seemed skeptical of the Steelers’ claim that the contract was seasonal and questioned both sides on what constituted an NFL season. It appears that the Commonwealth Court will now revisit prior cases finding that football players are “seasonal employees”

See, “NFL Players Aren’t ‘Seasonal Employee’ Pa. Court Told” in www.law360.com for a summary of the Commonwealth Court argument.

Ed Abes, Tom Baumann, and Doug Williams named to both Best Lawyers in America and SuperLawyers Lists

As this year comes to a close we want to highlight our attorneys for being recognized as top in our field. 

Best Lawyers has been regarded as one of the most credible measures of legal integrity and distinction in the country for more than 30 years. It truly symbolizes excellence in the practice. 

Ed Abes, Tom Baumann, and Doug Williams were again recognized by Best Lawyers in America this year for their work. Ed has been named every year since 1995, Tom every year since 2005 and Doug since 2009. All were recognized in the practice area of Workers’ Compensation Law — Claimants. 

Inclusion on this list is based on a rigorous peer-review survey comprising more than 8.2 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys. 

In addition to being named Best Lawyers, all three were also named SuperLawyers in Pennsylvania, only about five percent of lawyers receive this designation. 

The entire team at Abes Baumann salutes Ed, Tom, and Doug for these well-deserved recognitions.

The team at Abes Baumann congratulates Ed Abes, Tom Baumann and Doug Williams for being named to the Best Lawyers in America List.

For more than three decades, Best Lawyers has been regarded as the most credible measure of legal integrity and distinction in the United States. The 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America highlights the top 5% of practicing lawyers in the country.

Ed has been named every year since 1995, Tom has been listed since 2005 and Doug since 2009. This year, all three are being recognized in the practice are of Workers’ Compensation Law — Claimants.

Those of us who are privileged to work alongside Ed, Tom and Doug know that this honor is highly deserved. Through hard work and dedication to their clients, they’ve set the example for the attorneys and staff at Abes Baumann.

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