HR Strange But True!
August 04, 2009

The scenario could be from “Sex and the City”--a woman wearing high heels is hungry, goes to the break room to get a snack, slips on a piece of trash, and falls, injuring herself. The reality is that no matter how “dangerous” the stylish footwear may be, a court said the employee was indeed entitled to workers' comp.

When the employee, an account manager, filed for WC benefits, the employer opposed the claim, first denying that there was trash on the floor, and then entering evidence that the employee had a history of being “clumsy.” Then, in a move that would shock Carrie Bradshaw herself, implied that high heels were inherently dangerous footwear and inappropriate for work in an office setting.

The Kentucky Supreme Court (five men, two women) wasn't buying that the fall was shoe-related, saying that the employer had not presented “substantial evidence” that the high-heels were the culprit, nor that they were inappropriate for her workplace.

Also, because the employer had not entered evidence that the employee had a “pre-existing disease or physical weakness” nor could it prove that there was no trash at that moment near the vending machine, the court ruled the employee's fall was “idiopathic”--arising spontaneously from an unknown cause.

And, ruled the court, “Kentucky has adopted a presumption that an unexplained workplace fall arises out of the employment unless the employer presents substantial evidence to show otherwise.”

And thus the court granted the employee workers' compensation benefits.

Sources: Kentucky Supreme Court and

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