Housekeeper's fall during unpaid lunch break warrants benefits
Case name: Sodexo, f/k/a Sodexho, a/k/a Sedexho v. Chappell, No. 58121 (Nev. 02/28/13, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Nevada Supreme Court held that a housekeeper was entitled to benefits for her fall during her lunch break.
means: In Nevada, to demonstrate that an injury arose out of employment, the injured worker must show a causal connection between workplace conditions and how the conditions caused her injury, based on the totality of the circumstances.
Summary: A housekeeper for a commercial cleaning company was assigned to clean the ground floor of a hospital. She clocked out for a 30-minute unpaid lunch break and went to the hospital cafeteria to share food with her coworkers. She tripped over a coworker's chair and fell, causing a fractured hip that required surgery. The housekeeper sought workers' compensation benefits. The company's provider asserted that her injury did not arise out of and in the course and scope of her employment. The Nevada Supreme Court held that she was entitled to benefits.
The court concluded that the housekeeper's injury arose out of her employment. She had to walk through the hospital cafeteria at a minimum of four times per day to clock in and out, which was a greater frequency than the average member of the public. Therefore, she was exposed to hazards in the cafeteria more frequently than the general public.
The court also found that the housekeeper's injury occurred in the course of her employment. She took her lunch break in the cafeteria because she had to remain available to clean up emergency spills. She did not have a cellphone that would allow her supervisor to remain in contact with her, which would allow her to leave the premises. Her meal breaks were often cut short when she had to attend to a spill. The court found that while the housekeeper was not officially on the clock, she remained in the company's control during her lunch breaks and stayed on the hospital's premises for the company's benefit.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 8, 2013
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