Workers’ Comp: Workplace Affair to Murder

Workers’ Comp: Workplace Affair to Murder

  • Sep 11, 2023
  • Blog
  • Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C

In a shocking turn of events, a murder at the workplace unfolds in California, raising pertinent questions about industrial causation and the nexus between personal affairs and workplace incidents. Attorney Michael Burgis delves deep into this complex topic, revealing groundbreaking insights.

When a life is tragically taken due to a crime as severe as murder at the workplace, the immediate assumption might be that it’s unrelated to the job. Especially when motivations like extramarital affairs come into the picture. California’s legal precedents have generally held that such motives, rooted outside of work, don’t warrant workers’ compensation benefits for the deceased’s dependents. However, a recent case has challenged this notion, and its implications are enormous.

For those unfamiliar with the legalese, there are two essential criteria to prove for awarding death benefits: AOE and COE. Firstly, AOE meaning: the death must have arisen out of employment (AOE); and secondly, COE meaning: it should be within the course of employment (COE). If someone is killed at work during work hours, the COE is almost always met. But proving the AOE? That’s where the waters get murky, especially when extramarital affairs are in play.

Consider this: An employee embarks on an affair. Later, the jilted spouse, upon discovering the infidelity, retaliates by murdering the unfaithful partner right at their workplace. Historically, since the motive (the affair) did not arise from the employment, death benefits claims would be denied. But what if the affair was with a coworker? Does the mere fact that the relationship began within the confines of the same employment change the game?

In the highlighted case, an affair between coworkers from different locations but under the same employer took a tragic turn. The crux of the argument lies in the fact that “but for” their shared employment, they might never have met, and the resulting relationship (and its fallout) wouldn’t have occurred. Consequently, there’s a strong case that the death did, in fact, arise out of employment.

Underlying these arguments is the Labor Code 3202, emphasizing that injuries should be interpreted broadly to benefit injured workers. When the affair involves a coworker, it seems this liberal interpretation can extend even to death claims stemming from personal motivations.

It’s a solemn reminder that the lines between personal and professional can blur, with life-altering consequences. Assaults or murders in the workplace, even if rooted in external disputes, might still have ties back to employment. If you find yourself faced with such tragic circumstances, seeking expert legal counsel is paramount.

I’m Michael Burgis, a certified specialist in California Workers Compensation and the managing attorney of Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C. We regularly update our channel with critical legal insights and case law reviews. If you found this video informative, please like, subscribe, and share. For personalized assistance or further queries, our team at MB&A is always here to help.

If you were injured at work and would like to know the law, contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION (888) 287-4471

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Somebody is murdered at work in California. And it turns out that the motivation for that murder occurred because of an extramarital affair. Typically, that would not be work related and there’s a case law supporting that. However, there’s a recent case that came out that says there is industrial causation and we’re going to explain how the cases differ.

Hi, my name is Michael Burgis. I’m a legal certified specialist in California Workers Compensation. I’m a trial attorney and I’m the managing attorney of MB&A.

Workers’ Comp Benefits for the Decedent’s Dependents

Typically, there’s two burdens that you have to show to get that person worker’s comp benefits, or rather, get the dependents of the decedent benefits.

AOE/COE: “Arising Out of Employment” and Occurring During the “Course of Employment”

And that is you have to show that the death arose out of, and was within the course of, employment—what’s called AOE and COE. So clearly, if this person’s working and the murder occurred while they’re at work during work hours and working, that was within the course of employment, that’s usually not the issue.

The issue and how most defense attorneys and insurance companies can deny benefits properly is if the death did not arise out of employment. But the motivation was completely outside, right? Dealing with the typical case you hear is there was an employee who was having an affair, their spouse found out about the affair and then they came and killed their cheating spouse at the place of business. And there’s case law saying that’s not work related because it didn’t arise out of employment.

Affair With a Coworker

Now, in this case, similar fact pattern, unfortunately, is that the person who was murdered was having an extramarital affair. But the difference in this case was they were having an affair with a coworker. That is, somebody who was employed by the same employer, at a different location, but with the same employer. And I think what the difference here really is is that you can make an argument that had this person not been employed, had this person not met this person, coworker, in their employment context, that relationship wouldn’t have formed.

So even though the animosity and the motivation is for something that is not work related in any way, shape or form, but because there was sufficient context and that, but for this person being employed, they wouldn’t have met this person. And that is the context that, you know, where the relationship arose out of. There was enough context there that this family was awarded death benefits because it did. There was sufficient context that it arose out of employment.

Labor Code 3202

Now, also remember that you take this fact pattern, something called Labor Code 3202. Labor Code 3202 says injury is to be liberally construed to benefit injured workers.

So basically here, the AOE/COE burden was met, but it was met because the affair was a coworker. So this is just a reminder to anybody who’s watching this that if you are ever in this situation where you’ve heard of or know somebody and there was an unfortunate assault or murder that occurred at the workplace, but it’s being denied because they’re saying this is dealt with stuff outside of work, sometimes you can still link this.

Contact an Expert Workers’ Comp Attorney in Los Angeles

If you have any questions or concerns about this, our office is standing by. If you think this video has been helpful, please like and subscribe. We put out lots of content going over the new case law and it may be very helpful for you.

And again, if you have any questions or concerns, we’re here, We have the answers and we’re standing by.


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