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What rights does an employer have if injured while on a business trip for the employer? Are you still “on-the-job” if you slip and fall and injure yourself while dancing away at the hotel disco after working hours?

According to a recent Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision, Gravette v. Visual Aids Electronics, et al., you very well might be!

In this case, the employee, Mr. Gravette (no relation to Mr. Greivell), was sent by his employer to stay at the Gaylord Hotel while working on the audio visual systems at the Gaylord Center in Prince George’s County. His working hours were from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. At midnight, while dancing at the hotel’s Pose Ultra Lounge & Nightclub, Mr. Gravette slipped on some liquid and injured his pelvis.

He requested worker’s compensation benefits from the employer and they turned down his claim, arguing his dance activities were not part of his employment. The Worker’s Compensation Commission agreed and the Circuit Court affirmed, stating dancing was not “reasonably incidental to the travel required by the employer.”

So Mr. Gravette shuffled his case on up to the next level and the Court of Special Appeals found in his favor. *Maryland has long accepted that when an employee is required to stay out of town, the hotel becomes the employees’ place of business and injuries incurred while sleeping or eating in the restaurant are usually compensable.

But dancing at midnight? Your life doesn’t come to an end just because you’re on the road, the Court directed, and reasonable recreational activities properly undertaken are still part of the job. In fact the use of anything – the pool, the gym, etc.- on the premises provided by the employer is now part of your new place of employment.

And with that came a clear admonition, too, that if Mr. Gravette had decided to take the party up the road to a different lounge, he might not recover. (Then again, maybe another lounge’s floor may have been dry).

If you have questions about a possible compensation claim for an on the job injury, call Erika!

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