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The "reasonable expectancy" of employment requires two elements: (1) whether the employee subjectively believes his or her participation in an activity is expected by the employer, and (2) whether that belief is objectively reasonable. The burden rests upon an employer to insure that no subtle or indirect pressure or coercion is applied to induce involuntary participation by an employee.
Linda Burnett Kidwell suffered an injury at her home while practicing a jump that was a required test protocol of respondent employer's fitness test. Kidwell filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits and respondent denied the claim on the grounds that Kidwell’s injury did not arise out of and in the course of her employment. A workers' compensation judge found that Kidwell practicing the jump in her home while off duty was a reasonable expectancy of her employment and thus the injury was industrial. The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board rescinded that judgment and found that Kidwell was injured in an off-duty athletic activity that was excluded as a job-related activity and that Kidwell’s belief that practicing the jump was expected by respondent was not objectively reasonable.
Is Kidwell’s injury, which occurred while she was practicing at home to pass one of the protocols in an annual physical fitness test given by her employer, compensable under California’s workers' compensation laws?
The court found that Kidwell’s belief that practicing the jump was job related was an objectively reasonable expectancy of her employment under Cal. Labor Code § 3600 because respondent indirectly encouraged her to practice, as failure to pass the fitness test could result in the loss of a raise. The court held Kidwell’s injury was compensable and annulled the Board's decision.