Workers' Compensation

Virginia: Worker Was Not Aggressor When She Called Co-Worker a “Jerk”







Credible evidence supported the Commission’s findings that a worker, who injured her lower back during a physical altercation with a coworker, was not the aggressor and, therefore, under the circumstances entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, indicated a Virginia appellate court. Since evidence suggested the argument between the two was not personal, but rather related to a change in a work procedure, the court indicated the altercation arose out of the employment relationship. The court acknowledged that there was plenty of evidence to suggest the two workers did not get along before the confrontation, but the Commission was free to make a factual determination about the nature of the confrontation itself. Testimony by other workers tended to support the claimant’s contention that she had not been the aggressor. While claimant did “touch” the co-worker, she testified that she did so only to try to steady herself as she rolled her chair toward him when he called her a “bitch.” Claimant admitted first calling him a “jerk.” The appellate court indicated the Commission could infer from the circumstances that claimant, who weighed 115 pounds, did not intend to threaten the co-worker, who weighed approximately 325 pounds.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Fairfax County Government v. Monroe, 2015 Va. App. LEXIS 125 (Apr. 14, 2015) [2015 Va. App. LEXIS 125 (Apr. 14, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 8.01 [8.01]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.









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