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Is a franchisor liable for franchisee employee injuries in PA?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear a case this spring questioning whether or not a franchisor is liable for injuries sustained by an employee of a franchisee.

Why is this case going to court? The case, Saladworks, LLC v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, involves an employee of a franchisee that was injured while on-the-job. In an attempt to get benefits to cover the costs associated with these injuries, the employee sought workers' comp benefits from both the franchisee and the franchisor.

The franchisee did not have workers' comp coverage and the franchisor claimed that workers' comp for a franchisee's employee was not their responsibility. Queue a lawsuit for benefits.

What is the issue in this case? This case involves a specific portion of language within the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act. The case has been bounced back in forth, with one court siding with the franchisor, another with the employee. The main legal issue essentially breaks down to the holding issued by the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board's analysis. Based on this court's review of the law, it states that a franchisor could fit within the definition of a contractor under Section 302(a) of this law. As a result, it found that the franchisor may be liable if an employee is injured.

A comparison is made to Pennsylvania state law holding general contractors liable for any injuries sustained to their subcontractors. In this relationship, the general contractor is viewed as a statutory employer. If the argument holds, the franchisor would be classified as a statutory employer and would be liable for franchisee employee injuries.

Those who oppose this view note that franchisors are in the business of selling franchises. In many cases, the franchisor does not have control over the franchisee's employees. Since there is no control, the argument states that it does not make sense to hold the franchisor liable.

What can injured employees learn from this case? This case highlights the many layers that can make up a workers' compensation claim.

Employees in similar situations can benefit from the counsel of an experienced workers' comp attorney. This legal professional will advocate for your rights, working to better ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to receive.

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