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Air Canada Ordered to Pay Workers Compensation to WFH Employee Who Fell Down Her Own Stairs

Air Canada Ordered to Pay Workers Compensation to WFH Employee Who Fell Down Her Own Stairs

An Air Canada call center agent who was working from home during the pandemic has won the right to workers compensation after she tripped and fell down her own stairs and ended up injuring herself while on the way to her lunch break.

Although the employee has since made a full recovery and has returned to work, she submitted a claim for the period that she was sick.

Air Canada disputed the claim arguing it wasn’t responsible for an employee injury that occurred outside of the workplace and during the employee’s own time.

Quebec’s Administrative Labour Court, however, sided with the employee concluding that Air Canada should pay 90% of the employee’s wages during the time they were off sick.

The employee, Alexandria Gentile-Patti, was taking calls for Air Canada in her first-floor office on September 25, 2020, and was doing the 6 am to 1 pm shift that Air Canada had set her. At a designated time, she disconnected from her workstation and made her way downstairs for her assigned lunch break.

She made it down five stairs when she slipped, lost her balance and tumbled onto her left side injuring herself. Soon after, Ms Gentile-Patti informed her supervisor and filled out an accident at work report.

Air Canada dismissed Ms Gentile-Patti’s claim for compensation because it claimed the accident didn’t happen at work.

At the tribunal, Air Canada’s attorney argued the accident didn’t happen during work but within Ms Gentile-Patti’s “personal sphere”. Air Canada maintained the accident wasn’t connected with work and in any case, the airline had no control over what Ms Gentile-Patti did in her own home or the maintenance of her home.

That argument failed to convince judge Philippe Bouvier who reasoned that it didn’t matter where the accident took place so long as it could be proved that the accident was the result of an “unexpected and sudden event” and occurs during work.

Because Air Canada assigns set times for Ms Gentile-Patti to be at work and take breaks, Judge Bouvier ruled that the accident was an unexpected and sudden event that occurred at work.

This was because Ms Gentile-Patti was only present on the stairs at the exact time she had the accident because she was following Air Canada’s schedule.

“The fall of Mrs. Gentile-Patti, which occurs a few moments after disconnecting from her workstation to go to dinner, represents an unexpected and sudden event that occurs during work. She, therefore, suffered an employment injury,” Judge Bouvier ruled.

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