The California Supreme Court has ruled that employers cannot be held responsible for workers’ compensation injuries suffered by family members who contract COVID-19 from an infected employee despite California COVID regulations.
EMPLOYEE’S COVID TRANSMISSION TO FAMILY MEMBERS EXEMPTS EMPLOYERS FROM LIABILITY, DEFYING CALIFORNIA COVID REGULATIONS
The decision was prompted by a case involving an employee who transmitted the virus to his wife, causing severe symptoms, regardless of the existing California COVID regulations.The court justified this by stating that the potential surge in litigation and the subsequent impact on businesses and society outweighed the moral obligation to recognize a duty of care towards non-employees, in spite of existing California COVID regulations.
Justice Carol Corrigan emphasized that such a duty would lead to business closures, overwhelmed courts, and skyrocketing commercial insurance rates with the current California COVID regulations. The decision represents a significant blow to employees seeking compensation for COVID infections passed to their families. In a similar case on California COVID Regulations involving See’s Candies, an employee lost a workers’ comp claim after her husband contracted the virus and tragically died.
RULING AMPLIFIES DEBATE ON CALIFORNIA COVID REGULATIONS.
The court clarified that employers do not have a tort-based duty to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to non-employees. However, there are still potential negligence claims by spouses of infected workers amidst the California COVID regulations. The court acknowledged that workers’ compensation is a mutually beneficial agreement that provides guaranteed compensation for workplace injuries while limiting employer liability.
The case involved Victory Woodworks, a Nevada-based company accused of violating health ordinances by failing to quarantine potentially infected workers. The infected employee transmitted the virus to his wife, causing severe illness. The ruling amplifies the debate regarding California COVID regulations and the responsibilities of essential businesses. While it provides relief to employers concerned about extensive liability in spite of existing California COVID regulations, it also opens the door to potential lawsuits as spouses of infected workers may pursue negligence claims against employers.