EMPLOYEE HURT AT AN EMPLOYER’S PARTY IS NOT ENTITLED TO WORKERS COMP
In previous articles we have discussed the requirement that employees must be within the course and scope of their employment when injured in order to get workers compensation benefits. In a recent case in the Commonwealth Court, the Court held that an employee hurt at an employer’s party is not entitled to workers comp. In the case of Canning v. WCAB, the Court held that a staff member who worked for a Pennsylvania state Senator and was injured while leaving a Christmas party held at an off- site location was not within the course and scope of her employment and therefore was not eligible for workers compensation benefits. In so holding the Court focused on whether the Claimant’s attendance at the party served to “further the employer’s business interests.” In examining the issue, the Court considered a number of factors including the following:
- Claimant’s attendance at the holiday party was voluntary;
- There was no evidence that Employer promoted attendance at the party, or that the purpose of the party was to improve morale;
- There was no finding that the purpose of the party was to further Employer’s interests; and
- The Claimant’s attendance at the party was not necessary to maintain her skills as a receptionist.
In addition, the Court found as significant the fact that the Claimant was leaving the party at the time she was injured.
While workers compensation benefits were denied based on the particular facts of this case, the Court did recognize previous instances where employees injured at off-site social functions were eligible for benefits. In particular, Tredyffrin-Easttown Sch. Dist. v. Breyer, 408 A.2d 1194 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1979) (affirming grant of benefits for track coach’s loss of eye when struck at team picnic; picnic was for graduating seniors and purpose was to discuss track and students’ futures); Feaster v. S.K. Kelso & Sons, 347 A.2d 521 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1975) (affirming grant of benefits for fatal injury sustained at company picnic as purpose of picnic was to promote good relationships among employees; employees were not paid for attending picnic and employer supplied the food).
Contact our law firm to speak with a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for a free consultation and evaluation.
For a copy of the Canning decision, click here http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Commonwealth/out/985cd14_1-9-15.pdf#search=%22CAnning%22.