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Multiple Jobs for One Employer Count as One Employment for Workers' Compensation
Description Virginia supreme court held that an employee who had two separate jobs with one employer counted as one employee for workers' compensation. An injury suffered in one job that affected performance of the other job would be compensated as if there was only one job.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Workers' Compensation; Eligibility
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Cole worked for a school board as a bus driver for 31 years and as teacher's aide for 20 years. Each year she would sign separate contracts for each position, although both are paid by the same employer. While working as an aide, she fell and suffered an injury that prevented her from driving the bus, but not from continuing as an aide. She filed a claim for temporary disability benefits for time lost as a bus driver. The Workers' Compensation Commission denied the disability benefits since the injury did not occur while driving bus. The appeal of this issue ended up at the Virginia high court.
Decision Cole is due disability benefits. "Here, because the employer is of singular identity, the emphasis naturally is upon the employer-employee relationship and the character of the work becomes an irrelevant consideration. As a matter of common sense and simple logic, it cannot be reasonably doubted that Cole was working 'in the employment' of the School Board when she was injured, regardless of whether the particular work she was performing at the time was similar to her other work, whether she had separate contracts for her two jobs, or whether her wages where charged to two separate budgets. But, should doubt remain, Cole is entitle to the benefit of the doubt. The provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act 'should be liberally construed to carry out its humane and beneficial purposes.'"
Citation Dinwiddie County School Board v. Cole, 520 S.E.2d 650 (Sup. Ct., Va., 1999)

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