When horseplay at work leads to injuries, you and your coworkers could face consequences beyond write-ups. Horseplay may seem like good fun at the time. In reality, it is a big safety and liability risk for both you and your employer.
People usually call it horseplay when employees:
- Grab another employee’s body
- Playfully wrestle
- Run around in the workplace
- Fake a punch for laughs
- Toss around equipment or toys
Employees often like to joke around at work, keep things light, and have fun. Unfortunately, joking behavior may cause safety risks and horseplay can easily lead to serious injuries. Wrestling could cause a pulled muscle, or throwing equipment could cause a head injury or abrasion.
In Minnesota, employees injured during horseplay can recover workers’ compensation benefits in most cases. Exceptions could include if you self-inflicted the injuries or if you were intoxicated at the time, but even some injuries in those circumstances could be compensable. Usually workers’ comp judges do not look at “fault”, so it does not matter if you were doing something against the rules. It only matters that you were at work, and your injury arises out of and occurs in the scope of your employment.
If you were injured while engaged in horseplay, you may be angry at your coworkers for going too far. You did not mean to get hurt and were just having fun, but your coworkers punched too hard or pulled your arm the wrong way. In most cases, your coworkers and your employer will not face legal liability for their actions. The only exception is if you can show they were grievously negligent or had criminal intent. This is possible if your employer or the other employees disregarded safety regulations that led to your injury.
You and your coworkers may receive write-ups, written warnings, or negative performance evaluations because of the horseplay. Whether you get them is for your employer to decide. Talk to a lawyer if you feel that a write-up for horseplay was retaliatory – meaning that you only got written up because you reported the injury and sought workers’ comp.
Were you injured during horseplay in the workplace? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.