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Brown v. Kraft Foods, Inc., IAB No.: 1384244 (Nov. 29, 2012)

The Board finds that an injury sustained during a union meeting is not within the course and scope of employment, despite mandatory union membership.

In this case Claimant was attending an off-premises union meeting. Claimant fell while retrieving something from her vehicle in the parking lot of the venue where the meeting was held. Claimant sustained significant injury to her knee as a result of the fall. Claimant argued that because she was attending a union meeting, and that union membership was mandatory through her employer, that her injury was compensable within the course and scope of her employment.

Employer argued that although membership in the union was mandatory, attendance at the meetings was not mandatory. Further, Employer had no prior knowledge of the meeting, nor did the Employer provide any logistical arrangements or transportation for the meeting. Employer did not approve the venue nor exercise any control over where the meeting was held. Lastly, Claimant was not paid or compensated in any fashion to attend the meeting, nor did the meeting occur during Claimant's working hours.

The Board rejected Claimant's allegation that her involvement with the union was inherent and integral to her employment relationship with the Employer. The Board distinguished the recreational activity cases cited by Claimant and noted that the Employer did nothing to encourage attendance at the meeting nor did the Employer have any say in the location of the meeting. Ultimately the Board held that the Employer had no control over the meeting and gained no discernable benefit from Claimant's attendance at the meeting. Accordingly, the Board denied Claimant's Petition to Determine Compensation Due.

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