Final assent to employment in state allows Oklahoma to hear claim
Case name: Triad Transport, Inc. v. Wynne, No. 109810 (Okla. 04/10/12, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that Oklahoma had jurisdiction to hear a driver's workers' compensation claim.
What it means: Oklahoma has jurisdiction over a workers' compensation claim if the worker gave his final assent to employment within Oklahoma.
Summary: A truck driver heard that a company was hiring and called their headquarters in Oklahoma while he was in Tennessee. He completed an application at his home in Texas and faxed it to the company. While he was driving between Georgia and Arizona, the driver received a call from the company's recruiter notifying him that his application was approved. The driver agreed to travel to Oklahoma for orientation. When he arrived in Arizona, he passed a drug test, was provided a fuel card, and drove a load to Texas for the company. He then went to Oklahoma for orientation, where he underwent a physical, completed the paperwork necessary for employment, was assigned a truck, and was issued an employee identification card that listed the date of orientation as the date of his employment.
He was injured in a motor vehicle accident in Colorado while driving the company's truck. He sought workers' compensation benefits in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that it had jurisdiction over the driver's claim.
The court explained that Oklahoma has jurisdiction over a claim when the injury occurred outside Oklahoma but the employment contract was formed inside Oklahoma. The company argued that it made an offer of employment when the recruiter called the driver while he was driving between Georgia and Arizona and that the orientation in Oklahoma was a "mere formality." The court disagreed, stating that the company did not show whether the driver communicated final assent to the offer during the phone call with the recruiter.
Also, the court said the driver's act of hauling a load for the company before orientation was not an "unequivocal" assent to an offer of employment. He only performed a service for the benefit of a prospective employer to facilitate the hiring process. The driver believed he needed to attend orientation and complete the paperwork to provide the assent to employment.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 21, 2012
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