The Court of Appeals held this week that leased employees are to be considered joint employees of all corporations involved in the leasing of the worker. As a result, leased employees injured on the job should be given the same treatment as traditional employees and cannot recover for their injuries beyond what is offered through worker’s compensation benefits.
In Taylor v. Ford Motor Co., No. 49A02-1007-CT-823, James Taylor was a thirty-year employee at an Indianapolis Ford factory before retiring in February 2007. Two years prior to his retirement, the factory was taken over by a subsidiary of Ford but Taylor remained a Ford employee. He returned to work later in August 2007 at the same factory, but as an employee of Visteon Corporation leased to work for the new subsidiary. The next year, Taylor was injured after being struck by a forklift operator who was an employee of the subsidiary. Taylor applied for and received worker’s compensation benefits before suing the employee, the subsidiary, and Ford for negligence. The trial court dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Taylor appealed.
In reviewing the dismissal de novo, the Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court decision. The defendants relied on Indiana Code Sec. 22-3-6-1(a), which provides that “[b]oth a lessor and a lessee of employees shall each be considered joint employers of the employees provided by the lessor to the lessee for purposes of [The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act].” The Workers Comp Act provides the sole remedy for employees injured while at work and bars lawsuits brought as a result of the injuries, unless they were caused by someone who is not a fellow employee. The court determined that the language of IC § 22-3-6-1(a) was unambiguous and that it plainly stated that leased employees should be treated in the same manner that other employees are treated. The court cited to the concern of leased employees potentially recovering twice for their injuries by applying for Worker’s Compensation benefits and then suing for negligence. The court upheld the decision and dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.