An employee is injured while playing volleyball. He files for workers’ comp, saying it was part of his job. His employer disagrees, saying it wasn’t part of his tasks. Does the employee in this case get comp?
Here are the details:
Sean Murphy worked at a fitness facility as a fitness supervisor.
One day while at work, a co-worker asked him to participate in a game of wallyball (volleyball on a racquetball court).
At first he declined, but the co-worker, who wasn’t his supervisor, insisted, saying without him, the game couldn’t go forward “because they didn’t have enough people to participate.”
He agreed to play, and when he jumped up to block a shot, he came down and injured his right leg.
He underwent surgery to repair a fracture.
Since one of his duties was to promote and implement the classes and programs that his employer offered, he filed for workers’ comp.
An arbitrator awarded him comp benefits. The employer appealed for these reasons:
- Murphy had no duties in the racket sports department
- Wallyball wasn’t within Murphy’s responsibilities
- His supervisor never ordered or directed him to play or participate
- The center had a policy prohibiting employees from playing while they were on duty, and
- Playing wallyball was a voluntary recreational activity.
A state court upheld Murphy’s comp benefits, saying his participation in the game “clearly benefited the business of operating a health facility and [Murphy] clearly believed the activity was part of his work duties.”
The court said Murphy’s situation was similar to that of a pro athlete: Recreational activity was part of his job.
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