Workers Compensation Commission rules "no foul" in insurance company's denial of Wal-Mart basketball player's injury claim

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In a split decision, the Full Commission ruled on March 4th that a Wal-Mart employee who was injured in a company team’s charity game was NOT entitled to workers comp benefits. In a 2-1 decision, the VWC concluded “the claimant did not prove that the employer mandated, encouraged or promoted his participation at the game or that participation was part of his job duties. To the contrary, the claimant agreed that the associates volunteered to play and that each associate paid his entry fee. The claimant was off the clock, and he had anticipated taking off time to participate. He provided his own transportation to the off-premises game site. The claimant failed to show that the employer sponsored the game in any fashion, required his participation or benefited from his participation. This was not a case where the employer sponsored an event which was strongly connected with the employee’s employment in purpose, time, location and function. Instead, the current claimant was injured while voluntarily participating in an off-duty game that was not part of his employment requirements. We are simply not persuaded by the claimant’s arguments that the game was incidental to his employment.” Thus benefits were denied in OXENDINE v. WAL-MART, VWC File #236-00-42

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