Employers' Liability Laws
EMPLOYERS' LIABILITY LAWS
EMPLOYERS' LIABILITY LAWS. As occupational injuries increased in the nineteenth century, state courts formulated and frequently invoked three major doctrines in dealing with damage suits for work injuries: the fellow servant doctrine that the injured worker could not hold the employerliable for his coworker's negligence; the risk assumption doctrine that workers should be presumed to have assumed the intrinsic hazards of their employment; and the contributory negligence doctrine that workers who had contributed to their own injury in any degree could not recover damages. Such doctrines were intended to promote entrepreneurship and protect capital investment. But in the late nineteenth century many state legislatures challenged that common-law framework as "unjust" and "inhumane" and enacted employers' liability laws that held the employer liable for the injury suffered by employees in the course of their employment. Still, as they stood in the early years of the twentieth century, those laws had critical shortcomings. Litigation of these laws proved costly and uncertain for resourceless workers, and damages, if any, were typically meager.
The continuing injustices under the employers' liability laws became the major labor issue during the Progressive Era. While strengthening and extending employers' liability laws, such as the Federal Employers' Liability Act of 1908, broad reform coalitions—including labor unions, social and charity workers, academics, muck-raking journalists, women's and consumers' clubs, social gospel ministers, and progressive politicians and labor officials—pushed workers' compensation laws through state legislatures (ten states in 1911, all the states but six by 1920) and Congress (in 1908 and 1916). These laws adjudicated work injury cases regardless of fault, with contracting out prohibited, and in most cases without litigation. Since their constitutionality was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1917, workers' compensation laws have become the main damage recovery system for the vast majority of occupational injuries and diseases in America's workplaces.
Park, David W. "'Compensation or Confiscation?': Workmen's Compensation and Legal Progressivism, 1898–1917." Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2000.
See alsoWorkers' Compensation .
"Employers' Liability Laws." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 18, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/employers-liability-laws
"Employers' Liability Laws." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved June 18, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/employers-liability-laws
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.