eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – September 2022 – Virginia
September 27, 2022
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
VA CASE SUMMARY
Bryant v. Leidos Holdings, Inc.
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
Decided: September 9, 2022
Claimant lived in Virginia, and was hired by Leidos Holdings – a publicly traded subsidiary of Lockheed Martin – to service a client in Maryland. Claimant commuted from his Virginia home to a Maryland apartment next to the client, and he spent roughly 50% of the time at each. The expectation was that he would be readily available to the client, which included both in-person work in Maryland and working remotely from Virginia. Claimant was injured while working for the Employer in Maryland.
At hearing, apparently Claimant did not introduce evidence that Employer had a place of business in Virginia, even though it clearly does. After the Deputy Commissioner found the injury compensable, Employer appealed arguing there was no jurisdiction over Claimant’s injury. The Full Commission remanded for the Deputy Commissioner to make a specific determination about jurisdiction. At that point the Deputy Commissioner reversed course, finding that the Commission did not have jurisdiction over the claim. The Deputy Commissioner cited to a federal case from the District of Maryland involving telework, which held that “a defendant’s mere knowledge that an employee happens to reside in the forum state and conduct some work from home does not constitute purposeful availment.” Claimant appealed.
The Commission found that it did not have jurisdiction over the claim, because the record did not include any place of business in Virginia.
While the Commission was able to dispense with the jurisdiction argument on factual bases, the Commission did have some interesting discussion on telework as it relates to Virginia residents working for foreign employers. The Commission acknowledged and seemingly declined to adopt the interpretation that if the employee is telecommuting from his home, then the employer is doing business through the employee’s home. Specifically, the Commission suggests that even knowledge that a claimant is working remotely is insufficient to prove jurisdiction.
Even if the statements made by the Commission are simply dicta, the Commission is poised to deny cases on jurisdictional grounds when a Virginia claimant is teleworking for a foreign employer.
Any questions regarding this case can be addressed to Mike Bliley, Esquire, at (571) 464-0435 or email@example.com.