Did A Not So Soup-er Customer Cause A Work Injury?: Injured Workers In the News, #1

Restaurant Workers, with both COVID-19 and work shortages, are encountering unprecedented stress.  Restrictions and delays have customers are acting out in outrageous ways.  Recently, a Restaurant Manager had a scary encounter with hot soup.

It is reported that an angry Customer threw hot soup in a Restaurant Manager’s face.  The Customer was upset because she found plastic melted into the soup.  The soup was spicy menudo.  Criminal charges have been filed against the Customer.  The Manager, who was struck by the soup, stated  “the experience itself was traumatizing and heartbreaking.’ Dailymail.com ‘[I] felt my spirit had been broken just knowing someone could do something so awful and then laugh about it.’ Dailymail.com

Was There A Workers’ Compensation Injury? 

Possibly. A workers’ compensation injury requires that a body part be injured.  From the facts, it is possible that the Manager suffered a burn injury as a result of the hot soup.   Also, it is possible that she may have suffered an injury to her eyes.  Additionally, she may have suffered a psychiatric injury. From the reports, she expressed some emotions concerning the incident.

Any injury claim should be supported by medical evidence.  Thus, a medical report documenting a burn is important.  The same would be with respect to an eye injury.  Finally, any psychiatric injury claim should be supported by the opinion of either a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Why Is The Burn Injury Unique In This Case?

In this case, under California Law,  if the Manager’s eyes were burned in the incident she might be entitled to an extended period of disability benefits.   Chemically burned eyes is a basis for these extended benefits.  Whether spicy soup would be considered as a “chemical” would be an issue worthy of litigation.  The soup may have contained particular chemicals that could cause an ocular burn. Medical opinion would be required to prove this fact.

Are There Any Other Sources of Benefits Beyond Workers’ Compensation?

In light of the alleged criminal activity, the manager, if in California, could seek assistance through the California Victims’ of Crime program.  https://www.workinjuryhelp.com/california-victim-compensation-program-calvcp/

Also, there is a possible lawsuit for personal injury against the customer who caused the injury.

If the Customer’s Complaint About the Soup Was Correct, Would That Impact A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

No.  With respect to workers’ compensation law, claims are “no fault.”  Thus, even if the manager had been responsible for the hot soup problem, she would still be able to pursue a work injury claim.

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation concerning any workers’ compensation case, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION IN THE NEWS, EPISODE #2, A RESTAURANT COOKING UP STRESS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A Restaurant closed for a “day of kindness” after enduring customers’ abuse. Nypost.com  Restaurant Employee stress is real.  Some of the story’s restaurant’s employees were reduced to tears from customers swearing, threatening, arguing, and yelling.

The story illustrated multiple stressors that restaurant employees experience.  Customer abuse was the highlight.  There were management problems as well. The Employer noted that they “.. have had to make adjustments due to the increase in business volume, size of kitchen, product availability and staffing availability.”

Can Work Stress Be the Basis for a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Yes. Work stress can be a source of psychiatric injury claim.   it can be the source of other stress related conditions.

Do The Restaurant Employees From the Story Have a Claim?

In California, the predominant cause of a psychiatric claim of injury arise from actual events of employment.  Further, good-faith personnel action which is substantial (35-40%) can defeat a claim.

In the story, the stressors did not come from employer discipline or write-ups.  Rather it came from Customers and Management organizational issues.  Thus, it can be argued that 100 percent of the work stressors do not fall within the personnel action defense.

Are Stressed Out Employees Eligible for Time off From Work?

Work stress can cause employees to go out sick. Mental Health Practitioners may take stressed out employee off of work.  This may entitle the Injured Worker to obtain benefits during their time off.   It should be noted that in the story, the workers, technically, never received a day off.  Instead, they spent the day cleaning the restaurant.

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 over 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

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