Off The Record – Workers’ Comp – Can I Sue my Employer?
Hi. My name is Craig Rosasco, managing partner at the law firm of Turley, Redmond and Rosasco in Garden City, New York. How’s everybody doing today? We’re gonna discuss the topic today of if and when you can sue your employer in New York state. It’s a delicate issue. Let’s break it down together.
So a lot of times people come to me and they say, “Hey, I got hurt at work and I wanna sue my employer. Typically, you can’t sue your employer in a situation like that. Workers’ compensation is a no fault statute, and let’s break down as to if and when you can sue your employer.
So when can you sue your employer? Grandpa Al is now 70 years old. He’s drooling in his coffee every morning at work. And the employer decides that he’s gonna get rid of the old timer for once and for good, replace them with some young 30-year-old. If grandpa can show that that employer has now discriminated upon him, based upon his age, grandpa can sue the employer. That’s what’s known as discrimination.
Similarly, if the employer says, “I’ve had it with all these young kids, or these women working in the office, I can’t deal with them anymore. I’m gonna cleanse the place of that type of person.” Okay, so now you’re discriminating on them based upon their sex or their age again. That is another situation where you can sue your employer. However, when you get hurt on the job, as long as me, the employer, I have workers’ compensation coverage, I’m almost untouchable. Let’s go back to the 70s. Who remembers that movie with John Travolta, “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” I’m in the bubble.
So let’s assume worst-case scenario. I sit at my desk, and I eat five bananas, take the banana peels, throw them on the floor. My paralegal comes in, slips and breaks her neck. What’s her exclusive remedy? As long as I have a valid workers’ compensation policy in the state of New York, her exclusive remedy is to file compensation against me. She cannot sue.
However, let’s assume that outside my office space in the hallway of my building, the next door neighbor, the tenant next door has a banana party, and he throws his banana peels in the hallway. The building owners are now made aware of this fact, and one of my employees goes outside to go to the bathroom, they slip and they break their neck outside the office. Okay, they can sue the management company and/or the owners of this building. It’s what’s called a third-party case.
So they would file a worker’s compensation case saying, “Hey, I got hurt on the job and B, now I’m going to go the extra layer and sue the building owner or the management company, because they had a duty to keep that hallway clear of debris and clear of other items and keep the hallway in safe passage for my employees. In that case, you would have a lawsuit.
There are many other ways you can sue your employer, not sue your employer, I apologize, sue outside parties besides your employer. It’s something that certainly you should have an attorney investigate and break down for you. The laws are very specific. If you’re in such a situation, I recommend you give me a call. Craig Rosasco, 516-308-2013. I look forward to hearing from you. Take care.