One of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic was an increase in the prevalence of remote work. With more employees working from home, there have been some questions raised about how exactly that will affect workers’ compensation claims. In the recent case of Colonial Van & Storage Inc., v. Superior Court of Fresno County, a California appeals court, brought some additional clarity. It confirmed that an employer only has limited responsibility to ensure that a worker’s telework environment is safe. In this blog post, our Salinas workers’ compensation defense attorney provides an overview of the decision from the California court.
Case Analysis: Colonial Van & Storage Inc., v. Superior Court of Fresno County
The case of Colonial Van & Storage Inc., v. The Superior Court of Fresno County is an incredibly tragic one. It involves a young man suffering from a mental illness firing a gun and injuring several people. Sadly, one person was killed in the incident. At the time of the incident, the young man’s mother was working from her home. One of her co-workers, who was also present in the home, was seriously injured in the tragic shooting.
It is well-established under California law that employers have a legal responsibility to provide a reasonably safe working environment for their employees. In the era of ever-increasing remote work, there have been some major questions about what exactly this duty entails. As it pertains to this case, the key legal issues before the Superior Court of Fresno County were the following:
- Does an employer have any duty to ensure that an off-site meeting location is safe?
- What about if the meeting site is the home of a remote working employee?
Workers’ Compensation Decision
On review, the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District ruled in favor of the employer. The court found that the employer did not have a duty to ensure that the working environment was safe in the particular circumstances. While the court acknowledges that the era of telework has created some additional challenges for both employers and employees, it determined that the company had no control over the employee’s home and therefore, it has no duty to ensure a safe environment.
That is not to say that employees that work from home are ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. They can still file a workers’ compensation claim in a number of different situations. However, this decision demonstrates that California courts are very reluctant to extend employer’s duties into the residences of their workers.
Call Our Salinas, CA Workers’ Comp Defense Lawyer Today
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Salinas workers’ compensation defense lawyers work tirelessly to protect the rights and interests of our clients. If you have any questions about defending a telework injury claim, we are more than ready to help. Contact our law firm today to arrange a strictly confidential review and assessment of your case. We provide workers’ compensation defense representation in Salinas, Monterey County, and throughout the surrounding communities in Central California.