Union workers can wear many hats in relationship to their employment. They are like most other employees, union or otherwise, during the workday. They are supporters for fair wages and employment conditions during a strike. And those involved with union leadership are advocates for union members and negotiators of collective bargaining agreements with management. So, if a union member is injured when performing union activities, does that member/employee have a valid worker’s compensation case?
In the case of Pueblo County v. ICAO, the Colorado Court of Appeals determined that Mary Rodriguez, who was the president of the local union of Pueblo County employees, had a valid worker’s compensation claim against her employer, Pueblo County, when she suffered an injury following a meeting to review and revise a new collective bargaining agreement.
Pueblo County argued that Rodriguez’s activities for the union at the meeting were not within the course and scope of her employment and should not be covered by worker’s compensation. The County highlighted that her participation in the meeting was voluntary and she was not paid for her time spent in union activities. Additionally, Pueblo County noted that no one in management attended the meeting. However, the Court of Appeals disagreed.
Even though Rodriguez had clocked out after her normal working day and Rodriguez fell while getting into her car after the meeting was over, the Court of Appeals determined that she had a worker’s compensation claim against Pueblo County because her union activity, in reviewing and revising the collective bargaining agreement being negotiated, was “mutually beneficial” to the union and the employer. The Court of Appeals went on to state that the location of the injury is not determinative where it is determined that the worker’s activities conferred mutual benefit to the union and employer.
An accident that seems to have minimal connection with the worker’s employment can in fact result in a valid worker’s compensation claims. The facts of each accident are extremely important and should be analyzed by an experienced attorney to make sure that all valid claims are made. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact the injury lawyers at Mintz Law Firm for a free case evaluation.