Tennessee’s SB 1909 Impacts Awards for Recreational Activities
With the stroke of a pen, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen signed SB1909 into law, prohibiting workers’ compensation awards when an injury occurs during an employee’s voluntary participation in recreational, social, athletic or exercise activities on or off the employer’s premises.
The bill passed the Tennessee House and Senate unanimously by margins of 97-0 and 31-0, respectively.
In order for an injury to be compensable under workers’ compensation, the previous law generally required an injury must happen out of and during an employee’s employment.
In Gooden v. Coors Technical Ceramic Company, 236 S.W.3d 151 (2007), the Tennessee supreme court held that a fatal heart attack suffered by an employee during a voluntary basketball game played on the employer’s premises during a work break was a compensable injury because the employer was aware its employees regularly played basketball games on the premises during breaks and it acquiesced to such activity.
With passage of SB1909 (State Senator Mark Norris), introduced back in February, awards for workers’ compensation are prohibited when an injury or death is due to an employee’s voluntary participation in recreational, social, athletic, or exercise activities whether or not the employer pays some or all of the costs thereof, unless:
1. Expressly or implicitly required by the employer.
2. Participation produced a direct benefit to the employer beyond improvement in employee health and morale.
3. Participation was during work hours and was part of the employee’s job duties. Or
4. The injury occurred due to an unsafe condition during voluntary participation using facilities designated by, furnished by, or maintained by the employer on or off the employer’s premises and the employer had actual knowledge of the unsafe condition and failed to curtail the activity or cure the unsafe condition. (workersxzcompxzkit).
Author: Robert Elliott, J.D.
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