Pennsylvania Workers Compensation and Holiday Parties

EventPhotoFull_holiday-partyWith the Holiday season rapidly approaching, it also means numerous Holiday parties, and that includes, Holiday parties through our place of employment.  Ultimately, you may hear of an employee getting injured while at a company Holiday party.  If an employee is injured at a company Holiday party, are they entitled to workers compensation benefits in Pennsylvania?

The answer to that question is — it depends.  These cases are often very fact sensitive and case law has identified factors to be considered in whether a work injury at a company party is compensable under the Act.

Under Pinn v. W.C.A.B., the Commonwealth Court identified three factors that could make a holiday party injury compensable.  Those factors are:

  1. Whether the Employer encouraged or made attendance mandatory;
  2. Whether the event further a special interest of the Employer, such as good will, morale, good relations, etc…;
  3. Whether the event helped maintain or improve skills of the employee

Likely, the first two factors would be those that would be at issue in a Holiday party injury.  They are very fact sensitive.

Essentially, the first factor involves attendance at the event and whether the employer requires attendance.  However, it is important to note, just because attendance wasn’t mandatory, that does not mean this factor can’t bet met.  There are also facts that could lead to a determination of whether the employer ‘encouraged’ attendance.  Again, these can be very fact sensitive cases, and just because one employee received workers compensation benefits when injured at a holiday event, doesn’t mean you will.  All cases are different and facts, no matter how slight, can change the outcome.

The second element may revolve around whether the employer meant the party to be a morale boost, foster good relationships with employees, etc . . . Again, this is very fact sensitive and the burden is on the employee to demonstrate that fact.

There are also other factors that can be complicated factors, such as alcohol.  These cases are rare, but they do occur.  One thing is clear, if you, a relative, or a friend were injured while at company sponsored Holiday party, call Mooney & Associates right away to evaluate whether entitlement to workers compensation benefits exists.  The consultations are always FREE and we can meet with you in anyone of our twelve convenient south central Pennsylvania offices.   Call us today at 1-877-632-4656 to speak with an Attorney or arrange for a FREE consultation.


Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.