A migrant worker fractured his ankle on a sidewalk outside of employer-provided housing. Does he get workers’ comp benefits for his injury?
Frantz Pierre broke his ankle when he fell on a sidewalk where water was flowing from an outdoor sink used to wash clothes.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission found that Pierre wasn’t required to live in the employer-provided housing, so he shouldn’t receive comp benefits.
Courts often consider what is known as the bunkhouse rule in these cases. The rule requires workers’ comp for employees who are injured while on an employer’s premises if they are required to be there. Courts often consider whether an employee’s use of the premises is part of their compensation.
Pierre appealed the commission’s decision. A state circuit court upheld the ruling.
But Pierre appealed once more to the South Carolina Supreme Court which overturned the decision. It said the worker should receive comp benefits.
The state’s highest court found that Pierre was essentially required to live on the grounds because he and other migrant workers employed by the company didn’t earn enough money to rent seasonal housing.
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Cite: Pierre v. Seaside Farms, Inc., SC Supreme Court, No. 26777, 2/16/10.