Workers’ compensation benefits are typically cut and dry when an employee is injured while performing their roles and responsibilities within the scope of their employment. But what happens when an employee is injured during a work-sponsored event, i.e. an office holiday party or a work-sponsored outing or recreation event? The ultimate legal issue that the worker is required to prove is that the injury occurred during the course of the worker’s employment.
This legal issue arose in recent case that came out of a Pennsylvania court after an injured worker petitioned for review from the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. In this case, the injured worker was employed as a receptionist for a state senator. The worker was injured at a Christmas party that was hosted by the senator’s friend when she fell down a flight of steps and sustained several injuries.
The issue in front of the court was whether the worker sustained her injuries while in the scope of her employment. The applicable rule in this case is that in order for an injury to be within the scope of employment, the employee must be engaged in an act that furthers the business activities of the employer. The worker argued that the injuries did occur during the scope of employment because the holiday party furthered the senator’s interest, who acted as an employer in this scenario..
Despite the worker’s argument, the court looked at her purpose during the time when she was injured. The injured worker testified that she wanted to go to the party because it was something she wanted to do herself. There was no evidence presented that the party was something that was promoted by the senator. Because of this, the worker’s presence at the party did not further the business interests of the employer and the court found that benefits were properly denied.
The court stated some important factors when making a determination of whether an injury at a social event furthers the interests of an employer. Because social events, by design, do not normally promote business interested, these factors must be assessed:
- The employer’s encouragement of the employee to attend the event;
- A finding by the workers’ compensation judge that the activity furthered a specific interest of the employer; and
- Whether the activity was required in order for the employee to maintain the skills required by for her normal roles and responsibilities.
When applied to these factors, the facts show that the injured employee does not show any evidence of being within the scope of employment. And to add insult to injury, the court further solidified its reasoning by finding that even if the factors were present, the worker was injured while leaving the party.
Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The details surrounding workers’ compensation claims can become very important when applying it to the present law. Because of this it is important to contact an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer to help you secure the benefits you are entitled to.