Before any snow starts to fall- do you know your employer’s policy in case of snowy weather? What if you employees are stuck at work? Would you provide them with transportation home? In a weather emergency it is important to know what your options are. I know my car goes nowhere in the snow or just pretends I’m not braking, so I’ll definitely be hoping for a dry winter.
Rosario Novoa worked at the International Shoppes store in the JFK Airport in New York City. On a particularly snowy day the airport closed early as well as the store. She usually took public transportation to and from her shifts, but it was suspended because of the snow. Her employer transported her and the rest of the store’s workers back home using one of their vans. These vans were designed to carry merchandise, not people, so there were no seats in the back. Novoa said during the ride she was thrown around the van and hit the doors. She said she injured her back because of the ride, but her employer and their insurer denied the claim.
A workers’ comp judge also originally denied the claim saying it was not within the course of her employment. Novoa appealed and the workers’ comp board reversed previous decisions to give her benefits. On a final appeal from the employer and their insurer, the appellate board sided with Novoa. They said that although under normal circumstances the travel to or from work would not be considered part of employment for work comp purposes, this case was an exception. The employees had been sent home but were still being paid for the rest of the day so technically they were “on the clock”. There was a connection between her job and how she sustained this injury- it was an employer provided vehicle that was driven by her supervisor and she was still “on the job” when it happened.
Though in this case the injuries that occurred coming home in a snowstorm were covered, you might not be covered if you head home on slippery roads. You should take every precaution you can in wintery weather conditions to try and stay safe because that’s the most important thing. With this winter predicted to be just as bad, if not worse, than last year’s I’d be surprised if we didn’t start to see more stories like this.