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An employee-recognition event sponsored by the employer was not a “voluntary recreational program” within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 176.021, subd. 9 (2014), when it took place during work hours and employees either had to attend the event or use limited vacation time in order to avoid a loss of pay or benefits, held the Supreme Court of Minnesota. Moreover, the individual activities that take place during a voluntary recreational program do not constitute separate “programs.” The employee-recognition event in question consisted of dinner followed by bowling, then a game of laser tag. The employee injured his right ankle while playing laser tag. The compensation judge held that the relevant question was whether the “program” was voluntary, not whether the activities within the program were voluntary. The Court agreed, noting that the employer could have paid all the employees for the regardless of their attendance at the recognition event. Conversely, it could have paid none of the employees for the time at issue. In either circumstance, no implicit coercion would exist. Here the employee had to attend or lose pay or vacation time. The event was not voluntary.
Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).
LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.
See Shire v. Rosemount, Inc., 2016 Minn. LEXIS 58 (Feb. 17, 2016) [2016 Minn. LEXIS 58 (Feb. 17, 2016)]
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 22.04 [22.04]
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.
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