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Pennsylvania Employers Can Be Sued By Employees For Intentional Wrongful Acts


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9/22/2013
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Earlier this month, McGee Plastering & Stucco, a masonry company based in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania was cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for exposing workers to repeat fall hazards.

The company was working at a new residential construction site in Philadelphia and was cited for 10 alleged safety violations, including 5 repeat violations, during stucco operations. *Source: www.osha.gov

The repeat violations consisted of the following:

  • lack of fall protection;
  • inadequate planking on working levels;
  • lack of proper access to the working levels;
  • lack of restraints/bracing; and
  • lack of training for those working on and around scaffolding.

The company received similar violations in 2010 and 2011 and was already placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on employers that endanger workers by committing willful or repeat violations.  The company has been fined previously, but it does not appear that the penalty or the Severe Violator Enforcement Program has had any effect on the employer making its worksites safer for its workers.

Though employers generally cannot be sued by their employees who are injured while at work under PA’s Workers’ Compensation Act, there is a very specific situation where employers can be sued.  The Supreme Court in Pennsylvania has held that employers' intentional wrongs or acts are not covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.  See Can You Sue Your Employer In PA For A Workplace Injury?

It certainly seems that if any workers at this masonry company were injured because of these repeat violations, they may have a claim against the masonry company.  Workers who were injured due to lack of fall protection may argue that the employer intentionally did not provide fall protection.  The employer was cited by OSHA on prior occasions, not just once, but twice.  The employer was also put into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program due to a lack of fall protection for its employees. Therefore, there would be a strong argument that the employer knew that the lack of fall protection was dangerous and was likely to lead to fall accidents, and still did not provide fall protection. 

Employers know that they cannot be sued for injuries suffered by their employees due to the employers’ negligence. As a result, many employers take advantage of that.  For employers who commit intentional wrongs at the expense of their employees, they should be held liable and cannot hide behind the Workers’ Compensation Act.  Perhaps, they should also be subject to hefty punitive damages as well, for their intentional wrongful acts.

Related Construction Site Fall Accident Case Results

What To Do After A Pennsylvania Fall Accident At A Construction Site

If you or a loved one was injured at work due to the employer’s intentional wrongful acts, it is advisable that you talk to an experienced PA construction site fall accident lawyer.  Your employer may tell you that you cannot sue them when you really can.  Therefore, you would have other legal remedies, in addition to a workers’ compensation claim.  Call today for a free initial consultation at 877.944.8396.



Category: Construction and Industrial Accidents

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