We’re firmly in the Holiday Season. Black Friday has come and passed, but there’s still a month to go of Christmas madness. Mad rush to shop for things we and our children don’t need. This is also a time for seasonal temp work. Retail stores, warehouse jobs, fulfillment centers hire extra folks to deal with all the holiday business.
While I was in college, I worked at Cheryl’s Cookies in Westerville, Ohio during a holiday break . Basically you packaged boxes of cookies for 8-10 hours a day. It was pretty decent work, they had free “broken” cookies in the break room, and I made a little extra cash.
I didn’t get injured at Cheryl’s Cookies, but what if I had, would I have a work claim even though my intention was only to work there for two-three weeks? Yeah absolutely. Technically you would have a claim even if you worked only for a moment, but for the sake of clarity I’ll run down a brief list of examples from hard (“might not have a claim”) to easy (“probably have a claim”).
You get hired to work for the month of December at Acme Warehouse. You haven’t actually started doing any “work” for Acme, rather you are pulling into the Acme Warehouse parking lot. Some third shift worker, exhausted from picking Acme products all night, pulls out of his parking lot like Steve McQueen from Bullitt. He smashes into your car. You suffer a lumbar strain. Do you have a claim? Employer’s attorney will probably argue that you hadn’t started working and therefore not a compensable claim, our argument would be that the only reason you are in the parking lot is for the benefit of the employer, therefore compensable claim.
Second example, first day on the job, you park in Acme’s parking lot, no problems. You clock in, on the way to your first pick of the first day of the job you trip over a palette land on your back, suffer a back sprain and hip sprain. Compensable injury? Barring any other facts, sure. Doesn’t matter that you had only worked there for all of ten minutes. You have a work injury.
Frankly I could continue on, but barring some other factor, the result would be the same.
Now the other argument the employer’s attorney might bring up is:
Hey This Person is a Seasonal Employee, They May Have a Claim But they Shouldn’t Be Entitled to Compensation.
Our position would be that sure this is seasonal work, but now because of the work injury the injured worker can’t get another job therefore he/she should be entitled to compensation. If the opposite were true, i.e. the employer was only required to pay compensation for the theoretical duration of the seasonal employment, this would incentivize employers to purposefully employ folks for a limited duration of time. Reduce their risk, with the knock on effect of employers paying less attention to job safety. Traditionally the Ohio legislature has not been in the habit of incentivizing unsafe work environments.
I wish you a nice December, and if you are working a seasonal job I wish you get all the overtime work you can manage. Hopefully everyone remains safe and injury free.Cheers, Kip