Case name: Jonesboro Care & Rehab Center v. Woods, No. 10-321 (Ark. 12/09/10).
The Arkansas Supreme Court held that a worker injured while on a smoke break was entitled to benefits.
What it means:
To determine whether an employee is performing employment services, Arkansas courts consider whether the injury occurred within the time and space boundaries of the employment when the employee was carrying out the employer's purpose or advancing the employer's interest, directly or indirectly.
Summary: A certified nursing assistant was required to attend a seminar in her employer's dining hall. After the seminar, employees were instructed to form a line to pick up their paychecks and complete paperwork for a flu shot. Employees were required to remain on the clock while waiting in line. An employee smoking area was just outside the dining hall, and the nurse decided to wait outside until the line thinned. Other employees also waited outside. After a few minutes, she decided to go back inside because of the cold weather. With a cigarette in her hand, she walked to a trash can to discard her chewing gum, and she fell onto the pavement, fracturing her humerus. She sought medical and temporary total disability benefits. The Arkansas Supreme Court held that she was entitled to benefits.
The employer argued that the nurse was not entitled to benefits because she was not performing employment services when she was injured and that she was taking a personal break. The court disagreed and found that the nurse was advancing her employer's interests, at least indirectly, by remaining on the employer's premises until she received her paycheck, filled out the necessary paperwork, and clocked out. The employer benefitted from its employees attending the seminar so that it could distribute information, conduct training, and dispense paychecks to its employees.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
January 31, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications