In Ex Parte Lincare Inc., a supervisor and an employee were both working for the same company. In June 2016, employee submitted a letter of resignation to her supervisor. She said the reason she resigned from the company was because her supervisor had created a hostile work environment. She also claimed she had previously told the company about her supervisor’s actions, and the company had not taken any steps to mediate the situation.
She then claimed that once she gave her letter of resignation to her supervisor, the supervisor physically assaulted her by choking her, breaking two fingers on one hand and her hurting her thumb and elbow on the opposite arm. At this point, the police were called the job site. After police were called to the job site, the employer had the police issue what is known as a trespass order against their former employee who had been attacked by the supervisor. A trespass order, also known as a barring notice, means that if the person comes back to the property, he or she can be arrested for trespassing. It is basically a way to ban someone from private property without putting up a no trespassing sign. There are two reasons you might do this. One is because the barring notice is better notice than just a sign, and a barring notice only applies to the person subject to the order and not everyone else. In other words, if you wanted to ban one person, and not everyone, from a store, you could do this instead of using a no trespassing sign.
Following the assault, claimant filed a claim for workers’ compensation against the employer in connection with the injuries she received during the alleged attack, claiming they occurred in the scope of her duties, or while she was on the job. She also filed a lawsuit against her employer and the supervisor a tort-of-outrage claim for the conduct which resulted in her being injured by her supervisor. She asked for a jury trial on all triable issues as part of her case.
At this point, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the claim on grounds the workers’ compensation scheme is considered an exclusive remedy. This is generally true in this jurisdiction as well as in Boston workers’ compensation cases. What this means is that if an employee is injured on the job or becomes sick as a result of a work-related illness, he or she is normally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits but cannot also file a claim in civil court asking for damages pain and suffering and other types of special damages. It is important to understand that it does not matter if the employee actually files for workers’ compensation, because the true test is whether you were eligible to file.
In this case, the court eventually dismissed the claims that were covered under the workers’ compensation law, but not the claims that were subject to a trial by jury. The reason for this is because extreme and outrageous conduct by an employer may allow a claimant to also file a civil personal injury lawsuit.
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Ex parte Lincare Inc., August 19, 2016, Alabama Supreme Court
More Blog Entries:
Parr v. Breeden – Supervisor Co-Workers Not Liable Under Workers’ Comp Exclusive Remedy, July 3, 2016, Boston Work Accident Lawyer Blog