Monday, December 6, 2010

The Bunkhouse Rule

The Supreme Court of South Carolina held that a worker's injuries occurred within the course and scope of his employment where the migrant worker sustained a right ankle fracture when he fell on a wet sidewalk outside housing provided by his employer at a remote tomato farm. The housing was supplied to the worker at no charge, in part, because of the remote location of the work site. Frantz Pierre v. Seaside Farms, Inc., 689 SE 2d 615, 386 SC 534, 2010 

According to the Supreme Court, whether a worker was contractually required to live on the employers premises was not necessarily as important as whether the practical circumstances required that he or she live there. It determined that the worker in the instant case was essentially required to live on the employers premises by the nature of his employment and was making a reasonable use of the employer-provided premises at the time of his accident.  The court also indicated that the workers injury was causally related to his employment in that it was due to the conditions under which he lived, i.e., a wet sidewalk outside his building. 

The SC Supreme Court cites the rule in Larson "When an employee is required to live on the premises, either by his contract of employment or by the nature of his employment, and is continuously on call (whether or not actually on duty), the entire period of his presence on the premises pursuant to this requirement is deemed included in the course of employment. However, if the employee has fixed hours outside of which he is not on call, compensation is awarded usually only if the course of the injury was a risk associated with the conditions under which claimant lived because of the requirement of remaining on the premises." 2 Arthur Larson & Lex K. Larson, Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §24.01 (2009).

Reference: Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Law, Resident Employees.

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