During the holiday season, and at various times during the year many employers sponsor parties, receptions, dinners, etc. During the warmer months employers often sponsor softball teams, picnics, etc. Are injuries sustained during these employer-sponsored activities compensable?
As a general rule, two tests must be met for an injury sustained during one of these activities to be considered compensable under the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation Act. First, the activity in question must provide a benefit to the employer over and above employee morale and health. There must be a tangible benefit to the employer. For example, if an employer sponsors a holiday party and invites customers and prospective customers with the intent of increasing business, the first test is usually met. On the other hand, if the party is just for employees as a “reward” and to celebrate the holiday, this test is not met.
The second test is there must be some compulsion on the part of the employee to attend. If the employees are simply invited to attend, the event probably does not meet the second test.
Obviously, each situation will be fact-sensitive. Workers injured during employer-sponsored parties should always consult with a qualified Worker’s Compensation attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys in the Worker’s Compensation Department at Stark & Stark are always ready to help such injured workers.