Essay Subject: The workers’ compensation program exists to ensure that people who develop work-related illnesses or are injured on the job receive compensation. It is a no-fault system, meaning that workers generally receive benefits regardless of who caused the accident. In return for this security, workers are generally barred from suing their employers for negligence resulting in illness or injury. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, and there are some circumstances in which an employee may sue his or her employer. In your personal opinion, what circumstances would warrant such a lawsuit, and why?
Written By: Jenna Marie George
In my opinion, there should only be a few circumstances in which an employee could sue his or her employer when an injury or work-related illness occurs on the job. Both of these examples have similarities, however, two are related to injury while the last one is related to illness.
The first scenario is related to an on the job injury. All companies are required to develop, maintain, educate, and promote workplace safety. Employers are required to provide the necessary equipment in order to uphold the highest level of safety within their environments. In addition, there should be a process in place to report malfunctioning safety equipment, lack of safety equipment, and safety hazards within the workplace. If an issue is reported to the company regarding a safety issue and the company fails to respond appropriately, subsequent injuries resulting from that specific issue should allow the employee to file a law suit. An example of this would be when harnesses are used on the job site. If a harness is found to be faulty and is reported to the employer, the employer should remove that harness from circulation until it is fixed or replaced. If they fail to remove that harness and its use by an employee causes an injury, the employee should be permitted to file a lawsuit given that the employer chose not to respond to a reported safety issue.
The second scenario is also related to on the job injury. If an employer has specific safety policies in place that require safety checks or actions to occur on a predefined schedule, then those should be followed. If they are not followed and an employee gets injured due to their lack of compliance with their safety policy, then an employee should have the right to sue. For example, a company may have a policy in place to test a machine on a daily basis to ensure that its pressure is not about 40. If the company fails to perform the safety check and an employee gets injured due to the pressure, then the employee should be permitted to sue the employer.
The last scenario is related to on the job illness. If a company’s environment contains potential agents that could be harmful to one’s health, the company should be required to communicate this to each employee and provide them with the safety gear and training to avoid illness. If the company withholds the information or fails to provide the employee with the necessary safety gear and the employee suffers an illness, then the employee should be able to sue their employer.
Employees are required to follow workplace safety policies, and employers are required to provide employees with a safe working environment. Accidents do happen thus the reason for Worker’s Compensation. The ability for an employee to sue an employer should only be available when an employer knowingly and thoughtfully chooses to alter the safe environment.