A workers’ compensation claim by a Canadian teacher who was injured while playing baseball with students during a lunch break was denied by the court.
The Worker’s Compensation Appeal Tribunal rejected the claim of a teacher who injured his wrist while playing baseball with high school students, saying the game did not arise out of his employment duties.
The teacher, who was not named in the ruling, decided to participate in a “staff versus students” game during a lunch break. Because he teaches social studies, not physical education, the appeals council said he was acting out of the scope of his employment. Below if a portion of the tribunal’s ruling.
“The organization of, or participation in, recreational, exercise or sports activities or physical exercises is not normally considered to be part of a worker’s employment under the Act. There are, however, exceptional cases when such activities may be considered to have an employment connection. The obvious one is where the main job for which a worker is hired is to organize and participate in recreational activities. There may also be cases where, although the organization or participation in such activities is not the main function of the job, the circumstances are such that a particular activity can be said to be part of a worker’s employment.”
Despite mentioning that there are cases where participation in sports can lead to an acceptable workers’ compensation claim, the tribunal did not believe this situation was one of those circumstances. According to the ruling, the tribunal listed four findings that led to the dismissal of the claim. They found:
- The softball game was not part of the teacher’s scope of activities or duties.
- The softball game was not supervised by the employer
- The teacher was not under any direction or instruction to take part in the game by his employer
- His participation was strictly voluntary
Susan Lambert, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation said the ruling was disappointing. She said the teacher’s union stressed the importance of “teaching and work-life balance”, and in the ruling the teacher stated the game took place “just more or less for fun and to create harmonious school staff/student interaction.”
“[My attendance was] all part of a ‘good will’ thing between teachers and students,” the teacher said.
The BCTF plans to evaluate participation in similar recreational events during the next round of collective bargaining agreements.
Related source: The Vancouver Sun