Friday, April 24, 2015

Cirque du Soleil Performers Thrown Onto Workman's Compensation After Injury

This is interesting, at WSJ, "The Perils of Workers’ Comp for Injured Cirque du Soleil Performers":
Natasha Hallett was a longtime performer at Cirque du Soleil, playing a key role in the circus giant’s La Nouba show in Orlando, Fla. Then she made a mistake.

Ms. Hallett says she forgot to put a double loop through her harness for a flying trick, and a colleague didn’t notice the oversight during a safety check. She tumbled about 40 feet to the stage during a Cirque performance, shattering 19 bones from the waist down. “Like a horse that broke its leg, once you are injured you are pretty much no good for them anymore,” Ms. Hallett said.

Artists at Cirque du Soleil put their unusually adept bodies at risk to entertain audiences, just as many professional athletes do. But unlike many pro athletes, Cirque performers don’t get special treatment, such as continuing to receive regular pay, if they suffer severe injuries.

Instead, most of them are treated like ordinary workers, thrust into a complex workers’ compensation system that provides limited recompense for lost wages and permanent disabilities.

A small number of injured workers whose contracts provide for it do receive extra compensation after an injury, executives said. But relying primarily on workers’ compensation payments “is the best solution in terms of management,” Cirque spokeswoman Renée-Claude Ménard said. The company declined to comment on specific cases of injury....

Workers’ compensation laws vary widely, but they generally prevent workers from suing their employer for negligence.

Meaghan Muller, a performer from the Atlanta area who was badly injured in a fall onto a concrete floor while training at Cirque’s Montreal headquarters, said that Quebec authorities required her to seek medical treatment in Canada for the first year after her accident. She later needed four surgeries in the U.S. to correct what Canadian surgeons had done, she said.
Heh. Merica!

Keep reading.