Corona infection: Employer does not owe any compensation

Source: www.pixybay.com/de | Photo by Antonio Cansino

If a nurse becomes infected with the corona virus, she is only entitled to compensation and compensation for pain and suffering if she can prove that the employer is to blame for the illness. A medical certificate about the infection at the workplace must at least be comprehensible – according to the Siegburg labor court.

It’s all about this

The employee worked as a nurse in a nursing home in psychosocial care. In March 2020, she worked in the food distribution and helped residents to eat. She did not receive any respirators from her employer. At the beginning of April 2020, she tested positive for Corona and became seriously ill.
Twelve residents of the nursing home were also infected with Corona. With her lawsuit, the nurse demanded reimbursement of the treatment costs, loss of earnings and compensation for pain and suffering from her employer.

That’s what the court says

The labor court in Siegburg dismissed the lawsuit. The plaintiff was unable to sufficiently demonstrate that a breach of duty by the employer was the cause of her illness.

It could not be determined with certainty that the plaintiff was infected at her workplace. It was unclear to the court who she wanted to be infected with and in which situation. The plaintiff submitted a certificate stating that she was infected at work. However, the court could not understand how the issuing doctor could have come to this conclusion, since she was unlikely to have accompanied the plaintiff around the clock during the period in question. It cannot be ruled out that the plaintiff was infected outside of her workplace.

The decision is not yet final. An appeal can be lodged against the judgment at the Regional Labor Court in Cologne.

Note for practice

For all claims for damages against the employer, the general rule applies that the employer must be able to prove a breach of duty that caused the damage. If this proof is successful, the employer is actually liable, for example for the costs of a canceled wedding celebration (LAG Munich, February 14, 2022 – 4 Sa 457/21).

For illnesses caused by the employer, a liability privilege: If the illness is proven to be an accident at work, the statutory accident insurance will bear the damage (§ 8 SGB VII), the employer is only directly liable for compensation for pain and suffering if he intentionally caused the accident and its consequences (§ 104 Para. 1 SGB VII, so also the Federal Labor Court of November 28, 2019 – 8 AZR 35/19).

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