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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A sedentary lifestyle kills. But you might have a workers' comp claim if your job makes you lethargic.

A desk job might be lucrative to some, especially the unemployed.  But if you’ve been lethargic or sedentary for a while, you might have a worker’s compensation claim, according to a New Jersey appellate court. 

And with so many employees working sedentary desk jobs, this decision can have an enormous impact on New Jersey’s businesses.

In this case, she may have had a sedentary lifestyle, weighed more than 300 lbs, had an enlarged heart, and recently begun taking birth control pills, but the husband of Cathleen Renner said that it was her job that killed her.  Renner, a 25 year-employee of AT&T, died from a blood clot that formed in her leg and lodged in her lung.  According to an AP report, she had been working overnight in her home office to finish a project for the company the night before.   Her doctors say the clot likely developed during the time when she was working overnight in her home office.  And that means it’s her job’s fault. 

“Sitting at your desk is a risk in and of itself,” said Patrick Caulfield, the attorney representing Renner’s husband.  “It seems to be the No. 1 risk factor.” 

Of course, that’s a risk many of the nearly one-in-ten unemployed New Jerseyans would be all too happy to assume. 

The Court acknowledged that Renner “led a sedentary life in and out of work,” but she was “even less active when behind her desk.”  Well, um, yeah.  Just like you’re less active when you’re sitting in a car than running a marathon. 

AT&T was mum on whether it would appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court.  If AT&T appeals and loses, the Court may be paving the way for a litany of workers’ compensation claims – and a higher unemployment rate. 


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