I know two things for certain. 1) Workers' comp just can't fix stupid, and 2) I am really beginning to like the Waffle House. The 24-hour southern coffee shop chain has long been a staple for both early morning and late night fair, offering hot coffee and delicious pecan waffles for all who want them. To be honest, I don't often eat at Waffle House, but since some of their employees seem to specialize in stupid, I sure do enjoy writing about them.
Waffle House, for reasons unknown to anyone, offers perpetual lessons on crisis, risk management and workers' compensation, routinely producing stories that range from the ridiculous to the bizarre. There was the one about a Waffle House employee calling 911 to report an armed robbery, and who then yelled “April Fools” to responding police officers. There was the time a man drove his truck through a Florida Waffle House, trying to kill his wife who was a server there. Or there was the incident an Augusta, GA, where an air conditioner repairman found a man living on top of the Waffle House he was working on. Or the time a customer in the parking lot of a Tennessee Waffle House got hit by three “dine and dash” teenagers. He got trapped on the hood of their car as they sped off. He managed to dial police while holding on to the hood at speeds up to 60 mph. I wrote a story previously about one of their employees announcing to co-workers that he was about to start pleasuring himself; and then proceeded to do so while the others videotaped him. The last story I covered about Waffle House was about a waitress who got fired for drawing a gun and shooting at people who had just robbed their store. Yes, Waffle House is almost always entertaining.
Especially now that they've added breakfast and a show.
A Waffle House in Auburn, Alabama last week became the place of an epic employee battle, when two co-workers started brawling in front of early morning customers. It seems that tensions had been running high, when one employee asked another to move so she could wash dishes. This seemingly created an impasse, and a four-minute knockdown, drag out ensued. She must've really wanted to wash those dishes. Customers in the establishment did what anybody today would do when something like that occurs. They didn't try to stop the fight; they simply recorded it for posterity. (Contains foul language)
It is important to note that no animals were harmed in the making of that video.
Of course, this appears to have happened before, if this short yet sickly funny video is to be believed.
And if this disturbing 20-minute video tells us anything, it is that most Waffle House brawlers are women. Go figure.
But back to the employee fight. Would injuries from such an event be considered compensable under Alabama workers' comp? Likely not, as Alabama law generally states that "Injury does not include an injury caused by the act of a third person or fellow employee intended to injure the employee because of reasons personal to him or her and not directed against him or her as an employee or because of his or her employment.” 1
Then again, the attack would not have been initiated if they had not been an employee or because of their employment. Since I was not certain which way it would be viewed, I checked in with Alabama Defense Attorney Mike Fish, Partner of Birmingham Law Firm Fish, Nelson & Holden, and author of the Alabama Workers Comp Blawg. He told me that in Alabama, “just because an altercation occurs at work, does not mean it is compensable. It comes down to the reason for the altercation as to whether it will be considered to have arisen out of the employment.”
However, Fish also indicated that a determination of compensability might not be a bad thing for the employer. He explained by saying, “Depending on the circumstances, the employer may be better off with a finding that the altercation is compensable. If the related injuries are not covered by workers' compensation, then the employer does not enjoy the protections of the Exclusivity Doctrine. That was where the battle lines were drawn in the recent Alabama case of Ex Parte Lincare, Inc. ().”
So, not only can Waffle House now offer dinner and a show, but the company could be protected by the exclusive remedy of workers' compensation. Even if comp can't fix stupid, it is a pretty sweet solution; but still not as sweet as those pecan waffles…..
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
Bob has a couple unique personality characteristics. He firmly believes that everyone has the right to his (Bob's) opinion, and while he may not always be right, he is never in doubt. Enter at your own risk, and like all of our blog areas, we encourage you to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
We're not responsible for this guy.....
Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.