On September 4, 2020, the federal District Court for the Southern District of California, in Brooks v. Corecivic of Tennessee, LLC, ruled that workers compensation exclusive remedy barred claims by a former detention officer against her former employer, a private detention facility, for negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress in connection with the former employer’s alleged failure to maintain a safe and healthy work environment at the facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the spread of the virus among other employees and detainees there.
While the former employee did not file a separate claim for benefits, the court found that the claims for negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress were barred by exclusive remedy because they were based on the alleged failure to maintain a safe and healthy workplace which, the court noted, is inextricably part of the “compensation bargain” of the workers compensation system. The court reasoned that an employer’s response to a pandemic does not fall outside the risk inherent in the employment relationship, and though pandemics are uncommon, employers are expected to have protocols in place to deal with these type of events, particularly when engaged in operations susceptible to the spread of diseases.
NCCI will monitor for further developments.
For more information on other cases monitored by NCCI’s Legal Division, visit previous Court Case Updates, COVID-19 Court Cases, and
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