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Another reason to enforce violence policy: To avoid workers’ compensation liability

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Preventing Workplace Violence

Policies forbidding threats, fighting and other kinds of violence promote a harmonious and safe workplace, but there’s another good reason to ensure employees aren’t doing each other bodily harm. If you don’t take concrete steps to stem horseplay or outright aggression, you just might pay the price in higher workers’ compensation premiums.

Recent case: Jin Luo worked in the kitchen of the New Ming Restaurant until he accidentally spilled hot water on a co-worker at the wok station next to him. The co-worker and Luo began to argue, while the owner’s wife told them to stop and get back to work.

Luo did as he was asked and turned away from the co-worker. That’s when Luo was knocked unconscious by a whack on the head with a large cooking utensil. Luo sustained a brain injury and permanent paralysis on one side. He filed a workers’ comp claim.

The restaurant owner argued that by getting into a fight with his co-worker, Luo’s injuries effectively weren’t sustained during the course and scope of his employment. But the Court of Appeals of Ohio disagreed—Luo ended the personal argument and went back to work and was therefore eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. (Luo v. Gao, No. C.A. 23310, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 9th Appellate Division, 2007)

Final note: Although you can’t prevent all injuries caused by workplace violence, you can minimize the risk with strict no-fighting rules and tough discipline. If employees know they can be fired for fighting, they may exhibit more self-control. 

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