Most companies have all the work-related hazards they need, thank you. They see no need to introduce additional hazards not normally associated with whatever work is involved. But one company’s unusual gimmick has set the stage for what promises to be an interesting workers’ comp decision.
A tow-truck operator in Connecticut is dealing with a bizarre twist on workplace violence. Her pet chimpanzee went nuts on an employee, ripping off her hands, nose, lips and eyelids, according to an Associated Press story. Eight months later, the employee remains hospitalized.
And her family wants to sue the chimp’s owner for $50 million.
But the owner is claiming that workers’ comp should be the exclusive remedy, insisting that the chimp was an integral part of the business. The proof? His picture was on the wrecker and he regularly made promotional appearances.
Further, the house where the attack happened is a business office. And the employee’s duties included cleaning the chimp’s play area and picking up his supplies, says the company’s lawyer.
If the courts agree, the employee will have her medical bills paid, and will get some sort of wage replacement, but zilch for pain and suffering.
It’s an interesting strategy for the employer, and one that creates a quandary for the victim, the story points out. She has only one year to file a comp claim. If she chooses not to, and the lawsuit is eventually tossed, she could be left with nothing.
Is the employer unfairly trying to exploit the system? Or is the strategy simply a fair response to existing laws? Let us know in the comments box below.