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Employee Injury Sustained on 'Holiday Trip' Covered by Workers' Compensation

Are injuries that one of your employees sustains as the result of a “holiday trip” covered by Kansas workers’ comp laws? They are when the “trip” in question happens in the workplace. Confused? Read on. 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the plant ...

It’s Christmas Eve. Your plant is shut down for the holidays. One of your employees -- let’s call her Virginia -- has waited until the last minute to do her holiday shopping. Even though the plant is closed to the general public, your employees have been told that they can pick up their final paycheck for the year on December 24 or wait until the plant reopens on the 27th.
Virginia needs money to do her shopping, so she goes to the plant to get her check. Unfortunately for her, as she’s leaving her manager’s office, she trips over a scale, falls, and injures herself severely. Is she entitled to make a workers’ comp claim for that “holiday trip‘?
Getting Grinchy
No way that could really happen, right? Wrong, Reindeer Breath! This exact situation was the subject of a Kansas Court of Appeals ruling.
Did the court find this “mistletoe mishap” covered by workers’ comp? Well, you think, for an employee’s injury to be covered by workers’ comp, it must “arise out of and in the course of” her employment. Virginia wasn’t working when she was injured, was she? And your plant wasn’t really even open, was it? Therefore, you merrily conclude, her claim obviously isn’t covered. Wrong again, Elf Brain!
I’m dreaming of a green Christmas...
The court of appeals (swayed perhaps by the spirit of the season?) found Virginia’s claim to be covered. Why?
Well, Virginia was present on her employer’s premises when the injury occurred. And the only reason she was there was as part of her employment relationship, i.e., to receive payment of wages for work she had performed. Accordingly, the court said that to allow the employer to escape liability merely because the employee took the employer up on its offer to let her pick up her paycheck on a day the plant was otherwise closed would be “simply illogical.”
And besides, it was Christmas! (No, the court didn’t actually give that as a reason, but you know they thought it.)
Moral of our story
For those of you who have lost the wonderment of childhood, the message of this story is clear: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he wears a long black robe.

Don Berner Image
Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
Boyd Byers Image
Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
Jason Lacey Image
Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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