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On a day off from work, Jane visited the store at which she was employed for the purpose of signing a sympathy card for a coworker. While talking with coworkers at the back of the store, a shelf gave way and began to fall over. Jane grabbed the shelf to stop it from falling. In the process of helping to hold up the shelf, Jane severely injured her back. It was determined later that the shelf fell over because it had been improperly braced when it was put up by the employer. Jane sued for negligence, while the employer maintained that Workers’ Compensation was her exclusive remedy. Discuss what the court should decide and why.

According to David Walsh Occupational Safety and Health Act is the principal federal law requiring private sector employers to keep their workplaces free from hazards that threaten the safety and health of employees. OSHA establishes safety standards, conduct inspections of workplaces, and provide information to employers and employees about workplace safety and health issues (Walsh, pg. 545). Under normal circumstances, if an employee is injured at work, workers’ compensation insurance will cover medical bills, medication, transportation cost, and other reasonable out of pocket expenses. To be eligible for workers’ compensation insurance benefits, a worker must be injured while “on the clock”. It becomes very difficult to determine when employees who are not scheduled to work but come to the workplace to visit or for personal matters which was Jane situation. I am a bit hesitant to state that the employer are not liable due to Jane was off the clock because it is stated that the shelf fell because it had been improperly braced. If the employer was aware and consented to the visit by not objecting, workers’ compensation can be forced to provide coverage when a non-scheduled employee is injured on the premises. Workers’ comp cannot be considered as a lawsuit. Under judicial proceedings as an employee you cannot sue and take legal action against your employer for negligence. According to David

Walsh the right to receive workers’ compensation without proving employer negligence comes at a price (Walsh, pg.569). Employers are protected from any civil liability but they are required to pay workers comp no matter who fault it was. Although Jane cannot take any legal action against her employer, she may go to court to seek any damages suffered if the employer deliberately cause Jane harm. Based on the definition of exclusive remedy provided by David Walsh” workers compensation is the exclusive remedy for accidental injuries and illnesses that arise out and in the course of employment” Jane is unable to sue her employer for negligence. I don’t believe that it was ever the employer intention to cause Jane harm. If the company had violated OSHA and was previously cited for the shelf than the courts would have been in Jane’s favor.

Walsh, D. J. Employment Law for Human Resource Practice (5th Edition.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning (South­Western). [ISBN: 978­1305­112­124]

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