Breaking work restrictions at boss's request justifies compensability
Case name: Pick
'n Save Roundy's v. Labor and Industry Review Commission, No. 2009AP2594 (Wis. Ct. App. 08/25/10).
Ruling: The Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that a cake decorator was entitled to benefits. Her injuries were not self-inflicted.
What it means: Injuries that are "intentionally self-inflicted" are not covered under Wisconsin workers' compensation. When an employer asks an employee to breach her work restrictions and she is injured, the injury is not intentionally self-inflicted.
Summary: A cake decorator for a grocery store began experiencing problems in both wrists. Her job entailed "repetitive squeezing of a frosting tube." She was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and underwent surgery. She returned to work and was assigned a permanent work restriction of no cake decorating. She was assigned to bakery clerk duties. When the bakery became understaffed, store management asked the decorator to fill in as a cake decorator. The decorator testified that she was willing to do this so she could work more hours. She experienced more problems with her wrists and had more surgery. After the second surgery, the store denied her claim for benefits, arguing that her injuries were self-inflicted. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals held that she was entitled to benefits.
The court noted that the decorator only returned to her cake decorating duties at management's request. Her poor judgment did not prevent her from recovering workers' compensation benefits, the court stated. Additionally, management was aware of her restrictions. The court decided that her injuries were neither intentionally self-inflicted nor the result of refusing to follow competent medical treatment.
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November 8, 2010
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