We love helping union workers in Illinois. They are usually hard-working people and when their cases are denied, it’s very often without good reason so we are able to help a lot of them.
Union stewards, especially ones that care about their job, can be a huge support resource for their members. Most, but not all union stewards actually have jobs on top of their union duties. And while you’d think that the steward job is separate employment, that’s not necessarily the truth.
In an interesting recent case, a State of Illinois worker at a mental health center had double duty as a vice president and steward of her local union. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the State, a union representative is allowed reasonable time off with pay during work hours to attend grievance and labor-management meetings.
On the day she got hurt, she was asked to come to a nearby building for a disciplinary hearing for another member. When she sat down in a chair in that building, it broke and caused her to fall backwards into a brick wall.
While she lost her trial, she won on appeal because the Arbitrator clearly got it wrong. She was hurt while assisting another employee of the State while on State property. Her doing so was not only expressly authorized under the collective bargaining agreement, it benefited the State because those types of meetings help avoid problems between the workers and management. Her case was also strengthened by her testimony that she was often called to help mediate disputes that came up.
When an employer benefits from the actions of a worker, typically injuries sustained while the worker is doing those things will be covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The activity isn’t as important as the fact that it helps the employer’s interests.
Odds are that you aren’t a union steward and won’t get hurt working as one. So why did I write this post? It actually applies to a lot of employees who normally do one thing for their work but get asked to do something else and get injured. If you are doing it with the permission of your employer, your benefits should be covered. If doing so helps the employer, your benefits should be covered. In most cases, if your actions are reasonable and foreseeable, your benefits should be covered.
Bottom line is that if you sustain an injury and are told you don’t have a case because you weren’t during your normal job activities, don’t take their word for it. Call us or any other experienced attorney for a free consultation to see if you actually have a case.