An Illinois Appellate Court held that a suburban Chicago park district has been ordered to pay an Illinois worker’s compensation claim to an employee that got hurt playing a sport during his work shift because the activity didn’t technically qualify as “recreational”. Elmhurst Park District v. Industrial Commission of Illinois, et al., No. 1-08-2289 WC.
In 2002 the worker fractured his right leg while playing wallyball – a version of volleyball that’s played on a racquetball court. At the time of the incident he was employed by the Elmhurst Park District as a fitness supervisor.
The worker sought benefits for his injury pursuant to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The park district countered with an argument stating that Illinois law prevents employees from recovery for accidents that occur during a voluntary recreational program unless they are ordered by their employer to participate. The worker responded by arguing that it was within the scope of his job duties since those duties included promoting and implementing the classes and programs that the district offered to its patrons and therefore should be treated as an Illinois workers’ compensation claim.
On the day of the accident, the worker was asked to play wallyball on the park district’s team by an off-duty co-worker. At the arbitration, the injured worker explained that though he was not told it was mandatory to play, he did believe that it was part of his job to promote the park district’s programs, like wallyball.
The arbitrator found that Section 11 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act did not apply because the worker was performing incidental job duties and was not participating in a voluntary recreational activity.