An employee was on light duty after suffering an injury at work. One day he called his supervisor “an insulting, derogatory and vulgar name.” He was fired. The worker filed to receive workers’ comp benefits because of his injury. How did a court rule?
Francisco Narvaiz worked for Tyson Poultry. While on a light-duty assignment after a work injury, he called his female supervisor a phrase that included an f-bomb and the b-word.
He was put on suspension, and when he returned to work he was fired for insubordination and gross misconduct. Narvaiz applied for additional temporary total disability benefits for the remainder of his disability period. The company fought the claim.
An administrative law judge (ALJ) denied Narvaiz’s claim. The Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed the ALJ’s decision, ruling the employee should get comp benefits. An appeals court restored the ALJ’s decision.
Now, the Arkansas Supreme Court has heard the case.
Arkansas’ workers’ comp law says an employee’s comp benefits can be suspended if he refuses suitable work that accommodates his injuries.
Tyson argued that by engaging in misconduct, Narvaiz refused suitable work.
However, the state’s highest court ruled the misconduct and insubordination in this case were just that — misconduct and insubordination and nothing more. After committing the misconduct, Narvaiz returned to work. It was Tyson’s option to fire him or allow him to continue with his light-duty assignment.
Therefore, the court ruled that Narvaiz should continue to receive temporary total disability benefits for the remainder of his healing period.
What do you think of the court’s decision? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
(Tyson Poultry v. Narvaiz, Supreme Court of AR, No. 11-3, 3/15/12)