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On-the-Job Violence Pt. 1

  • Edward Berry
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On-the-Job Violence Pt. 1

It is inevitable that some employees will fight each other at work.  Someone will be hurt as a result.  The question will arise as to whether the injured employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  The answer to the question lies in identifying the source of the animosity that led to the violence.  Generally speaking, if the source of the animosity is personal ill will, then the court will hold that the injury does not arise out of the employment. See Ala. Code § 25-5-1(9)  But, if the animosity is rooted in the employment, then the court will find that the resultant injury arose out of the employment.

For instance, in the case of Beverly v. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, 682 So. 2d 1360 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996) one thievous worker tried to steal some shrimp from the restaurant, but was stopped by an honest co-employee.  The thievous worker got angry and poured boiling water over the honest co-employee, seriously injuring him.  The court held that since the argument that led to the fight flowed out of the employment, the injury was work-related.

When I am evaluating a workers’ compensation injury case due to fighting employees, my first order of business is to dig down through the layers of anger, hurt and blame to discover whether the basis for the animosity between the fighting co-employees was grounded in or triggered by a dispute related to the employment.

However, be aware that what started out as an employment dispute can morph into a personal dispute if, for example, sufficient time passes between the work altercation and the physical fight to suggest a renewing of the quarrel due to personal anger and resentment.  Martin v. Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Co., 216 Ala. 500,113 So. 578 (1927).

If you have additional questions about On-the-Job Violence, give us a call at 205-588-0555.  We are happy to serve you.

Servant Law is available to you as a referral source for workers’ compensation calls that you receive or to talk with you regarding quirky workers’ comp issues you are experiencing in cases that you are currently handling.



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