Foreman's aggressive actions block claim for injuries sustained in assault
Tiner v. Nelson Tree Service, 19 ILWCLB 150 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2011).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission reversed the arbitrator's decision awarding benefits, finding that a foreman was the aggressor in the physical altercation that brought about his injuries.
What it means: In Illinois, a worker injured in an altercation at work is not entitled to benefits if he was the aggressor in the altercation.
Summary: A foreman was informed that a crew member had a confederate flag license plate on the front of his automobile. The foreman believed the plate violated the employer's policy against harassment. The foreman and the crew member engaged in a conversation in which they were both angry. Later, the foreman repositioned his personal vehicle to block the coworker's vehicle in the employee parking lot.
At the end of the day, the foreman approached the crew member's car, removed the plate from its holder, and jumped on the car. The crew member then put the vehicle in motion. The crew member exited his vehicle and struck the foreman, and the two began fighting. The arbitrator awarded benefits to the foreman, finding he was assaulted after confronting the crew member about the employer's policy against harassment. The commission reversed, ruling that the foreman was the aggressor, and it was his actions that brought about the confrontation that led to his injury.
The commission found that the claimant put the crew member in a "fight or flight" mind-set. If the foreman had taken a less confrontational approach to addressing the issue, his injuries could have been avoided.
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November 7, 2011
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