Illinois Court Rules Employee Injured at Company Picnic Can File for Workers’ Comp

February 13, 2003

An Illinois appeals court has decided that an employee who injured his knee playing basketball at a company picnic can file a workers’ compensation claim.

The decision overturned a ruling by an arbitrator who ruled against the man, William Woodrum, saying he was not required to attend or participate in sporting activity at the picnic and therefore was not covered by workers’ compensation. The Illinois Industrial Commission had affirmed that decision before being overturned by the Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court, Industrial Commission Division.

The picnic, tagged “Zero Defects Day,” was held on company properties on a workday, but employees were told they could take a personal or vacation day if the didn’t want to attend. There was no punishment for not showing up.

“Where an employee must chose between forgoing pay or benefits and attending a company-sponsored recreational program,” the appeals court said, “the employee is, as a matter of law, assigned to attend the function.”

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