On December 6, 2021, the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in Barker v. Tyson Foods, Inc., ruled that workers compensation exclusive remedy barred a wrongful death lawsuit brought against an employer’s parent company by the widow of an employee who died of COVID-19.
The lawsuit alleged that the parent company caused the employee’s death by failing to protect workers of its subsidiary, the employer, from COVID-19. In its decision, the court rejected the widow’s argument that only one entity could be the employee’s employer. The court reasoned that under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act, an employer is an entity that controls and directs the manner and method of work. The court also noted that when an employee furthers the functions of both—the parent and the subsidiary—courts must look to other indications of the right to control to determine which party or parties is the employer. Relying in part on the complaints assertion that the parent company owned, operated, and otherwise controlled the conditions of the employee’s work, the court concluded that the parent company was also an employer entitled to exclusive remedy protection.
For more information on other cases monitored by NCCI’s Legal Division, visit previous Court Case Updates and
Court Case Insights, under the
Legal section of
This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for informational purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. Use of this article for any purpose other than as set forth herein is strictly prohibited.