Many of our readers can name at least one instance where they've been either required or pressured to participate in some company activity whether they wanted to or not. Whether it's a picnic, a run, a trust-building exercise or a game of softball, many of us have a story. For most of us, though, it's not as bad as that of a man who worked for a South Carolina public relations firm.
The man was playing in a kickball game organized as an employee team-building event when he says that he shattered two of the bones in his legs as he tried to keep from being tagged. According to court documents in his workers' compensation case, he has so far undergone two operations and will eventually need to have one of his knees replaced.
His claim was initially denied because workers' compensation commissioners said he had not been required to attend in the game. However, he argued that he had been urged by his boss to organize the event and was required to be there.
An appeals court upheld the initial ruling. The state supreme court, however, just ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The majority said that he was entitled to workers' comp because even though participation was voluntary for company employees, the plaintiff's situation was different. The court determined that as the organizer, he was "expected to attend as part of his professional duties." His boss had testified that he would have been "surprised and shocked" if the man hadn't come to the game.
The high court justices who voted in the minority noted that even if he was expected to attend the game, he may not have had to play. It was not reported whether he had any previous injury or medical condition that would have prevented him from being expected to safely play. The court will determine how much money the man will receive in a separate hearing.
Most Pennsylvania workers' compensation claims involve injuries suffered while an employee is performing his or her normal duties. However, cases are not always so clear-cut. Anyone who believes that his or her illness or injury falls under the banner of workers' compensation should seek experienced legal guidance. This compensation can help employees get the medical care and treatment they need and help cover lost wages so that the family isn't thrown into financial turmoil.
Source: ABC News, "State Court: Workers' Comp OK for Kickball Injury" Meg Kinnard, Associated Press, Aug. 27, 2014