DID FAST FOOD WORKER SUFFER A SAUCEY PSYCHE INJURY? INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS #70

A Wendy’s Fast Food Worker reportedly had a bad drive thru incident.   A customer pulled a gun.  Apparently, there was a missing sauce packet!  It was reported that the man “was driving around the parking lot brandishing a gun and refusing to leave.” foxnews.com

There is no report of any physical injury.  Thus, we will discuss whether this fact pattern can give rise to a workers’ compensation claim.

Can This Fact Pattern Give Rise to A Work Injury?

In California, there is no need to have a physical altercation in order to have a work injury claim.  In this instance, there was an actual incident.  We have a customer acting in a hostile fashion.  He was reportedly brandishing a weapon and acting in a menacing fashion.   If the Worker experienced a physical reaction to this event, it would be considered as a work-related event.  In this matter, if the Worker had accidently not provided the customer the sauce packet, it would not be relevant.   Workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system.  This event would not be considered as a “good faith personnel action.”  It was merely an exchange between an employee and a customer.

What Type of injury Can Be Claimed?  

In California, it is possible to have both physical and psychological injuries arise from such an incident.  Injuries, however, must be documented by medical specialists.  In this instance, there could be a physical injury, i.e. an aggravation of a blood pressure condition.   Likewise, a psychiatric disorder could be found as well, i.e. a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.   It should be emphasized that the incident alone does not make a claim. There must also be an injury.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

CAN PARENTS CAUSE A HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH A PSYCHIATRIC WORK INJURY?  INJURED WORKER IN THE NEWS #64

Parent mistreating High School Football Coaches is becoming a problem.  If this mistreatment caused the Coach an emotinoal injury, can a workers’ compensation claim be filed?

A recent news report indicated that a High School Football Coach quit his job due to parents’ behavior.  It was reported that, after a game ended, a group of parents yelled at the coach [and possibly the team] and tried to embarrass them.  The Coach noted that the actions seemed dehumanizing.  The Coach was so concerned over the parents’ treatment that, for fames, he would use escorts in order leave games or take back exits.

Can Parents Be A Source Of A Work Injury? 

Parents can be a source of a work injury.  Given the facts of the particular case, the parents’ harassment of the Coach occurred during a time when the Coach was performing his employment.  Thus, there were actual events of employment that would be considered a the source of the stress.  Psychiatric stress claims must meet certain thresholds.  Further, a mental health practitioner would have to have diagnosed the Worker with a condition.  Mental illness can include diagnoses such as depression or anxiety.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

 

DID BURRITO MADNESS INJURE CHIPOTLE WORKERS? INJURED WORKERS IN THE NEWS #61

Chipotle Employees are complaining.  A $3 burrito hack was driving them mad.  It was reported that employees may have been getting frustrated over a company customization plan. A customer and possible magician figured out how to turn a taco into a burrito.  This was perhaps done at the expense of the workers’ sanity.  In a Chipotle statement from CAO Laurie Schalow,  it was noted that “[w]hile we have long embraced customizations and even released our own hack menu, the current social media trend is resulting in a poor experience for our food, our employees and our customers waiting for orders,” Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Laurie Schalow told the outlet in a statement. nypost.com

Reading between the lines, it would appear that Chipotle Workers may have been experiencing stress.  If this stress gave rise to an emotional injury, would it be a work injury?

Can A Company Policy Give Rise to A Work-Related Stress Injury?

Yes.  A company policy, if it causes an emotional injury, can be a valid workers’ compensation claim.  The key issue would be whether the policy would be considered a non-discriminatory good faith personnel action.

California Law has Labor Code Section 3208.3.  It provides under section (b) (1) that “In order to establish that a psychiatric injury is compensable, an employee shall demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that actual events of employment were predominant as to all causes combined of the psychiatric injury.”   The personnel action defense is per section (h)  that “[n]o compensation under this division shall be paid by an employer for a psychiatric injury if the injury was substantially caused by a lawful, nondiscriminatory, good faith personnel action. The burden of proof shall rest with the party asserting the issue.”

In this instance, the policy was no disciplinary toward employees. Rather, it was a policy that apparently created an annoyance.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

 

 

IWITN #44: Did Tossed Food At A Wendy’s Employee Cause A Work Injury?

Had  a Wendy’s Frosty been involved, things could have been worse.  It is reported that  a Wendy’s Drive Thru Worker was  assaulted by nuggets, fries, and a drink.

An unhappy customer  contended that the bag the food came with a guarantee of hot and crispy food.  She felt her order did not meet that standard.  It is reported that “[s]he said that she got spicy nuggets instead of normal ones, saying they were burnt.” After profanity and outrage, it is reported she threw the bag of food at the worker.  Fox10phoenix.com

Was There a Work Injury?

From the facts, it does not appear that a physical injury was sustained. A physical injury is a term used to describe orthopedic injuries or wounds.   For example, if a glass bottle had been thrown and caused wounds, that would be considered as a physical injury.  In this instance, the injury would be considered as a mental injury. From the facts, it is possible that the worker may have sustained a psyche injury.  The news report indicated that the Worker was harassed, threatened, cursed at and had items thrown at her by an angry customer who overreacted. Such an injury would require the opinion of a mental health practitioner finding a psychiatric injury.  A finding would require a diagnosis such as PTSD, Anxiety Disorder or Depression.

If The Worker Had Gotten The Food Order Wrong Which Triggered The Incident, Would That Effect the Validity of the Work Injury Claim?

In this instance, no.  Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” system.  In this instance, even if the employee got food order was wrong, the resultant incident would still be covered within workers’ compensation. Labor Code Section 3600, lays out that “(a) Liability for the compensation provided by this division, in lieu of any other liability …shall, without regard to negligence.”

While workers’ compensation is no fault, good faith personnel actions may bar a psychiatric claim.  Had there been no incident with the customer, a Worker being written up for improperly filling an order most likely would be considered a “good faith” personnel action.

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

IWITN #38: Was A United Airlines Worker Brawl With A Passenger A Work-related Injury?

A viral video shows a United Airlines Luggage Check-In Worker engaged in a fist fight with a customer.  The video shows the UA Worker punching the customer.  The video then shows the customer beating up the worker.  Dailymail.com

For the purpose of this post, we will take the video as the totality of the interaction. Thus, we will analyze whether the UA Worker can claim a work injury for the blows that he sustained. Again, the facts, for this hypothetical, are that the UA Worker came up to the customer and struck the customer.  The customer, in turn, then struck the UA Worker.

It is reported that prior to the blows that there was some interaction between the UA Worker and the customer concerning the customer using a wheelchair to transport luggage as opposed to paying for a luggage cart.

Can the UA Worker Claim An Injury With Respect to the Exchange of Blows?

Labor Code Section 3600(a)(7) prohibits recovery under workers’ compensation law in California “[w]here the injury does not arise out of an altercation in which the injured employee is the initial physical aggressor.” This is often referred to as the “Initial Aggressor Rule.” Thus, the fist fight injuries would not be covered as a valid claim. The reason being is that the UA Worker threw the first blow and therefore was the initial aggressor.

Could the UA Worker File a Different Claim?

From the facts of the case, the UA Worker apparently became agitated to the point that he decided to attack the customer. There is the possibility that a psyche claim could be filed.  From the video, it would appear that the UA Worker was unhinged.  A determination on this matter would be deferred to a mental health practitioner.

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

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