Releasing a Tortfeasor Before an Accident Happens?

March 10, 2014

Can an employer force an employee to waive his right to bring a third party action and also destroy the workers compensation carrier’s right to subrogation?

Sometimes employers will want to make sure that their employees do not sue customers, even when the customer’s wrongful conduct results in an injury to the employee. In an effort to foster customer relations, sometimes employers force their employees to sign agreements not to sue customers – even long before the injury has occurred.  This results in a wrongdoer escaping liability, and an injured employee and a subrogated carrier not having any rights when the wrongful conduct causes serious injury.

A recent Pennsylvania court decision has upheld this practice (Bowman v. Sunoco, Inc. 65 A. 3d 901 (2013)). To read the complete court decision, please go to http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/J-15-2012mo.pdf?cb=1.