Technician's antics block eligibility for workers' compensation benefits
Reed v. Wal-Mart and American Home Assurance Co., No. 99, 019 (Kan. Ct. App. 09/26/08, unpublished).
What it means:
An employee's admission that he was purposefully interfering with a coworker's performance of his job duties, along with credible evidence that the employee was not furthering the employer's business when he was injured, support the conclusion that his injury occurred as the result of horseplay.
An automotive service technician was seriously injured when he placed his foot on the side of a spinning tire mounted on a balancing machine. The operator of the balancing machine testified that after the accident, the technician stated that he was "trying to kick the tire to throw the balance readings off." An administrative law judge denied the technician's compensation claim on the grounds that his actions "constituted horseplay and relieved Wal-Mart of liability." In upholding the ALJ's decision, the board rejected the technician's contention that there was no horseplay for purposes of his claim because Walmart did not reprimand him. The board explained that the personnel actions Walmart took after the incident had no bearing on whether his actions constituted horseplay. The Court of Appeals upheld the denial of the claim.
In support of its finding that the technician's injury did not arise out of his employment, the Court of Appeals cited several factors: 1) the technician was not assigned to work on the tire balancing machine when his injury occurred; 2) only one employee was needed to run the machine; and 3) the balancing machine was in operation and its protective hood was down when the technician was injured.
December 2, 2008
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