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Employee Misconduct That Does and Does Not Deviate From Employment

Employee Misconduct That Does and Does Not Deviate From Employment

When an employee engages in misconduct, his receipt of workers compensation benefits can be jeopardized depending on whether such misconduct constituted a deviation from his course of employment. If the employee has deviated from the course of employment, and is then injured, he will generally be denied benefits. Prohibited conduct is a marker for misconduct. It is only that prohibited conduct concerning the employee's fundamental job for which he was employed that will affect compensation eligibility. Even though prohibited, conduct that merely violates the way or means that an employee uses to accomplish his job duties is still within the course of his employment.


An example where prohibited conduct deviates from the course of employment is an act personally benefiting the employee that is contrary to the employer's known rule on the subject. Consider the welder who is injured while refurbishing a trailer he had purchased in contravention of the employer's rule that all tools and equipment were to only be used for business purposes. With respect to prohibited conduct that does not deviate from the course of employment, contemplate the employee who fails to wear safety goggles when operating a saw. Even though the employer specifically forbade employee's from operating any machinery without wearing safety goggles, the employee will likely still receive compensation for an injury. Here, it is only the method that the employee used to accomplish his job duty that was against the employer's rule. Therefore, compensation should be allowed.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.