BLOG: GETTING INJURED DURING WORK SPONSORED FUN AND GAMES AT WORK IS NOT WORK AND IS NOT FUN
On June 28, 2013 Ms. Heestand was participating in an egg toss game during a safety day event that was being sponsored by her employer, Cintas. As she backed up to catch the egg she collided with a sign and fell to the ground injuring her right leg, arm, shoulder and hip. She continued to work on restricted light duty for another 13 days before she had to stop.
In June 2015 the Workers’ Compensation magistrate found in favor of the worker and ordered the company to pay all wage loss benefits from the July 12, 2013, the employee’s last day worked. He made the specific finding that the worker did not join the games on her own but rather at the request of the director of human resources.
The Workers’ Compensation Appellate Commission reversed the award.
The Workers Disability Compensation Act states:
An employee going to or from his or her work, while on the premises where the employee’s work is to be performed, and within a reasonable time before and after his or her working hours, is presumed to be in the course of his or her employment. Notwithstanding this presumption, an injury incurred in the pursuit of an activity the major purpose of which is social or recreational is not covered under this act.
Even though the injury occurred on the company’s premises during working hours for which the employee was being paid, the question was whether the injury occurred ‟in the pursuit of an activity the major purpose of which is social or recreational”.
In relying on the supreme court cases, the commission stated the court does not need to examine the special mission of the event or activity, but rather the major purpose of the activity in which the plaintiff was engaged at the time of the injury.
Even though the purpose of the egg toss was to bring the work force together as a closer unit, it had nothing to do with the employee’s job as a custodian. The egg toss was like activity where someone would go smoke a cigarette or play basketball on break time that is paid by an employer. Where an employer awarded his employees with paid time off to use his pool, and an employee injured himself by trying to dive through an inner tube, the employee was denied benefits.
YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT INJURIES THAT OCCUR DURING SOCIAL EVENTS SPONSORED BY YOUR EMPLOYER THAT ARE NOT PART OF THE REGULAR JOB DUTIES ONE IS EXPECTED TO PERFORM, ARE NOT CONSIDERED WORK RELATED AND NOT COVERED UNDER WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW.