I am a certified mediator and I recently mediated a workers' compensation claim for some local lawyers. The injured worker in the case alleged that she hurt her foot on a piece of equipment at work. Her supervisor claimed that the woman told the supervisor that she had gotten hurt at home. Normally, this type of dispute would be a "swearing match" with both people testifying under oath in court, and the Deputy Commissioner would have to figure out who was telling the truth. Having a document to clarify the facts either way is a big help in this kind of situation.
The NC Court of Appeals released its decision on March 19, 2013 in Antelo v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc., COA12-846. In this case, Wal-Mart had argued that it should not have to pay Mr. Antelo temporary total disability benefits after firing him for "misconduct." His alleged "misconduct" was taking a cigarette break with his supervisor's permission, some time after he suffered a workers' compensation injury. The Industrial Commission found after a hearing and appeal that Mr. Antelo did not engage in any misconduct, and that Wal-Mart failed to prove that he did. Mr. Antelo had performed a reasonable job search while being restricted due to his injuries, so the Industrial Commission ordered Wal-Mart to keep paying benefits. Wal-Mart appealed but was slapped down by the Court of Appeals in an unanimous decision that upheld the Commission's ruling. The Court of Appeals pointed out that under the law, Wal-Mart had the burden of proving that Mr. Antelo engaged in misconduct that justified the firing, and Wal-Mart failed to carry its burden of persuasion on that point. The decision is unpublished and cannot be used as controlling authority, but even so, it represents justice for an man who was fired after getting hurt at work.
Chirping birds, blooming roses and sunshine may be things many North Carolina residents are looking forward to now that Spring is around the corner. However, Spring also brings with it daylight saving time, the annual ritual of moving the clock one hour forward. Researchers have found that daylight saving time may take more of a toll on our bodies than we realize.
North Carolina residents and chicken lovers may be surprised to hear people across the country eat more than 50 pounds of chicken every year. However, they may be even more surprised to hear that workers processing chicken for the biggest poultry companies in the in the country are highly susceptible to workplace diseases including repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel and lung diseases.
Some jobs may be more dangerous than others, especially those performed outdoors-unpredictable weather conditions and heavy machinery often play a role in workers getting hurt on the job. Employers should try to protect their workers by ensuring that they receive proper safety training and know how to react in emergency situations.
An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation is underway regarding a tragic manufacturing accident in North Carolina that resulted in the death of a 35-year-old worker. Detectives with a county sheriff's office have ruled it an accident and OSHA is investigating whether anything could have been done to prevent the incident. Such investigations are standard after industrial accidents have taken place, particularly those that result in workplace injuries or deaths.
North Carolina requires most employers to purchase workers' compensation insurance for the benefit of its employees. When the employers fail to do so, an employee injured on the job may have a very hard time getting the benefits he or she deserves. However, a recent report found that the state agency that is supposed to make sure employers are buying the insurance is not doing enough to enforce the law.