New to HR? Templates, tools and development to make you a seasoned pro in no time.
Shawn Premer shows how doing the right thing for employees leads to positive business results.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that, under state law, an employer does not generally have a duty to protect its employees from unreasonably dangerous conditions on its property that are open and obvious or that are known to the employees.
Texas employers still have a duty to provide employees with a safe place to work and may fulfill their premises-liability duties either by eliminating hazards or by adequately warning of the risks. But employers satisfy that duty by eliminating or warning of hidden dangers, the court clarified. Open and obvious dangers of which the employee is aware—such as in the case that was before the court—do not give rise to a duty to warn or to remediate.
In Austin v. Kroger Texas, No 14-0216, an employee responsible for eliminating a hazard—mopping up an oily spill—fell and injured himself in the process.
Randy Austin fell while mopping a restroom floor at a Kroger store in Mesquite. He fractured his femur, dislocated his hip and underwent numerous surgeries.
Austin had to prove negligence by Kroger to recover damages because the grocery chain doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. Texas is the only state that does not require companies to buy workers’ compensation insurance, and about one-third of Texas employers are not part of the workers’ comp system.
Austin sued, and the case eventually ended up in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which granted a summary judgment to Kroger but asked the Texas Supreme Court to clarify state law on the matter of whether an employee can recover damages for an injury caused by a premises defect of which he was fully aware but that his job duties required him to remedy.
The high court’s answer: Under state law, an employee injured on the job cannot recover against his employer if he was fully aware of the injury-causing premises hazard.
“We conclude that, with two notable exceptions, an employer’s premises-liability duty to its employee includes only the duty to protect or warn the employee against concealed hazards of which the employer is aware, or reasonably should have been aware, but the employee is not,” the court said.
The first exception arises when a dangerous condition results from the “foreseeable criminal activity of third parties,” in which the employer should have anticipated that the harm would occur despite the worker’s knowledge of the risks and could have anticipated that the person was “unable to take measures to avoid the risk.”
The second exception arises when the employee is aware of the dangers of the job but is not provided the “necessary equipment, training or supervision.” The court clarified that employers must provide the tools necessary to work safely.
The case now goes back to the lower court to determine the truth of Austin’s allegation that the appropriate tools to clean up the spill were not provided.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him @SHRMRoy
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Talent Attraction Study: What Matters to the Modern Candidate
HR Education in a City Near You
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies