Tennessee: Bill prohibits benefits for voluntary participation-related injuries
S. 1909 was drafted in response to a 2007 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling in Gooden v. Coors Technical Ceramic Co. In that case, the court held that a fatal heart attack suffered by an employee during a voluntary basketball game played on the employer's premises during a work break was a compensable injury because the employer was aware that its workers regularly played basketball games on the premises during breaks and it acquiesced to such activity.
If signed into law, the bill would prohibit benefits when an injury or death is due to an employee's voluntary participation in recreational, social, athletic or exercise activities, regardless of whether the employer pays some or all of the costs. Exceptions to the legislation would include:
- Employee participation that was expressly or impliedly required by the employer.
- Employee participation that produced a direct benefit to the employer beyond improvement in health and morale.
- Employee participation that was during work hours and was part of the employee's job duties.
- An injury that occurred due to an unsafe condition during voluntary participation using facilities designated by, furnished by, or maintained by the employer.
June 18, 2009
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