The attorneys at Wilson Ratledge stay up to date with the latest North Carolina Workers’ Compensation cases in order to provide you the best possible outcome. Below you will find the some of the most recent North Carolina decisions.
August 5, 2015
Battle v. Meadowbrook Meat Co. (Ordinary duties)
Plaintiff testified that it was normal for delivery drivers, like him, to lean over and maneuver on pallets when making deliveries when pallets could not be moved. Plaintiff felt something in his arm pull loose when reaching down the side of a pallet to pull up a box. The Industrial Commission found that Plaintiff did not suffer a compensable injury because there was no unusual circumstance from the work performed.
Zapata Dominguez v. Francisco Domingez Masonry, Inc. (Self-employed wage earning capacity)
Plaintiff was the owner and a crew leader of Defendant company, and was the primary contact for subcontract work. Plaintiff sustained an injury which would not allow him to perform the physical duties of a brick mason. To determine if a self-employed employee has wage earning capacity, the Commission must look to whether he 1) is actively involved in the day-to-day operation of the business and 2) uses skills which would enable him to be employable in the competitive market place not withstanding his physical limitations, age, education, and experience. In this case, since Plaintiff could work as the crew leader and supervisor, he was not totally disabled, and did have wage earning capacity.
Butler v. Drive Automotive Industries of America, Inc. (Employment law, Joint employment)
In this recent 4th Circuit case, Plaintiff was hired by ResourceMFG to work at Drive. Plaintiff was harassed about her body, was called vulgar nicknames, and was touched by one of her supervisors. Plaintiff reported the behavior to ResourceMFG, but nothing was done. Plaintiff was asked to perform work day and she refused due to being tired from the overtime she was working. Drive’s supervisor cussed at her, and called her a vulgar nickname. When she told the supervisor she did not like the name calling, he told her she was a temp and was expendable. Only a few days later, Drive contacted ResourceMFG about terminating Plaintiff. Drive’s supervisor called Plaintiff and told her he could save her job in exchange for sexual favors. Plaintiff refused and was fired. Plaintiff then filed a Title VII action.
The case was moved to federal court, and the staffing agency was dropped from the lawsuit. Defendants won at a summary judgment hearing, wherein the judge found that Drive did not exercise sufficient control over Plaintiff’s employment to entitle her to a Title VII action. Although Plaintiff wore the uniform of ResourceMFG, Drive determined Plaintiff’s work duties, scheduling and supervision.
The 4th Circuit reviewed tests from other Circuits. The “control” test looks at who has the authority to hire and fire the employee, and set the conditions of employment; who supervises the employee day-to-day; and who controls the payroll, insurance and taxes of employee. The “economic realities” test determines which entity the employee relies on for work, not necessarily who is writing the paychecks.
The 4th Circuit ultimately adopted a hybrid test between the control and economic test, and determined that the joint employment doctrine was the law of the Circuit, and that an employee may have two employers, opening up claims against more employers in the future.