The employer sponsored an annual, month-long fundraising campaign, which was organized by employees. Employee participation was voluntary, and there were no repercussions for failing to participate. Workers were paid to attend a one-hour presentation, which was to encourage employee participation in the events. Additionally, the employer deducted contributions from the paychecks of employees who chose to do so. Some of the fundraising events were held on the employer's premises during work hours.
The claimant injured her knee while participating in a relay race, which took place in the employer's cafeteria during her unpaid lunch hour. She slipped and fell on a streamer used to mark lanes for the racers.
The employer denied the claimant's application for benefits. An administrative law judge agreed. The Workers' Compensation Board reversed, finding that the claimant was entitled to benefits.
Was the board correct in granting benefits to the worker?
The injury occurred during a recreational activity that took place in the course and scope of employment.
Participation in the relay race was not a regular incident of employment.
The employer had only de minimis control over the fundraising event.
How the court ruled: A.
The court ruled that the board correctly decided that the worker was entitled to benefits because she was within the course and scope of her employment when she was injured. American Greetings Corp. v. Bunch, No. 2010-SC-000179-WC (Ky. 08/26/10).
The court mentioned that four tests determine whether an injury that occurs during a recreational activity comes within the course and scope of employment: 1) if it occurs on the premises, during a lunch or recreational period, as a regular incident of the employment; or 2) if the employer brings the activity within the orbit of employment by expressly or impliedly requiring participation or by making the activity part of the service of the employee; or 3) if the employer derives substantial direct benefit from the activity beyond the intangible benefit of improvement in employee health and morale that is common to all kinds of recreation and social life; or 4) if the employer exerts sufficient control over the activity to bring it within the orbit of employment.
The court noted that the injury occurred on the employer's premises, during normal working hours, and during the claimant's lunch hour. The accident occurred as a part of the employer's annual, month-long fundraising campaign.
B is incorrect. The court stated that an accepted and normal activity conducted on the employer's premises becomes a regular incident of employment. The relay race was not an isolated annual event but part of a month-long charitable campaign which the employer allowed employees to conduct annually.
C is incorrect. The court noted that an employer has the right to control all activities that occur on its premises. Although the employer in this case did not control the fundraising event directly, it permitted the campaign to be conducted and organized on its premises, deducted employee contributions from payroll, and paid workers to attend a one-hour presentation.
is the legal editor of the WorkersComp Forum.
This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 21, 2010
Copyright 2010© LRP Publications