As AT&T recently found out, sitting behind a desk is risky. It can lead to the dreaded “work inactivity.” And for employers, it can be costly.
This ridiculousness came from Trenton, NJ at the end of last month. An appeals court ruled that the communications giant was liable for workers’ comp survivor expenses following the death of a 47-year-old at-home employee in 2007 following a night of sitting.
According to court records, Cathleen Renner worked three days each week for AT&T from her home office in Edison, NJ.
She also weighed about 300 pounds, had an enlarged heart, didn’t exercise much and had just started taking birth control pills.
Ms. Renner was quite a trooper: she sent an email to a co-worker at 12:36 a.m. on the morning of September 24, was still at her desk at 7 a.m. and at 9 a.m. informed a coworker that even though she wasn’t feeling well, she would continue working to finish the project.
Lo and behold, a blot clot that had formed in Ms. Renner’s leg lodged her lung. This unfortunately resulted in a fatal pulmonary embolism.
Her husband, James, filed a workers’ comp claim on her behalf saying that inactivity on the job had contributed to her death. AT&T appealed, but the appellate court agreed.
Apparently, however sedentary you are during your personal life, you’re apt to be even more sedentary at work.
It sure seems like the world is getting less and less safe all the time, at least in terms of what is compensable.
What is pretty safe to assume, though, is that AT&T will appeal this one to the NJ Supreme Court.