Unpaid Charitable Activity Does Not Bar Temporary Total

Unpaid Charitable Activity Does Not Bar Temporary Total

Posted: March, 2004

State, ex rel. Best Buy Stores v. Hawkins (2/5/04), Franklin App. No. 02AP-1329, 2004-Ohio-551.

Issue: Do unpaid activities at a middle school constitute “work” which would bar an injured worker from receiving temporary total?

Background: Hawkins was injured while working as a shipper and handler for Best Buy. Hawkins also was the athletic director and coach at a middle school. She received $700 every six months from the school for her work as athletic director.

She received the stipend until December, 2000. Hawkins had surgery due to her injury in November, 2000. The pain medication Hawkins took prevented her from being able to perform all the duties she had previously done at the middle school. Therefore, after December, 2000, although Hawkins continued to perform some duties for the middle school, she did those duties on a voluntary basis.

Evidence showed that after the surgery Hawkins could not answer phone calls from other athletic directors. Nor could she schedule games, and she could not drive to games due to the pain medication. Hawkins had no control over any school funds. She did request that the school buy athletic uniforms but the Commission found that the school had obligation to honor that request.

The Commission found Hawkins ineligible for temporary total during any time when she received a stipend from the middle school. However, the Commission found that charitable activities (the activities which she did after December, 2000, after she no longer received the stipend) did not bar temporary total. Therefore, the Commission awarded temporary total starting January, 2001.

The employer filed a mandamus complaint in the Franklin County Court of Appeals, challenging the Commission’s decision to award temporary total.

Decision: Court denies the requested writ.

Whether Hawkins’ activities at the middle school constituted “work” can only be considered after examining all of the evidence. The Court notes that the Commission has reviewed the evidence and determined that Hawkins did not “work” after December, 2000 and “some evidence” supports the Commission’s decision.

Information courtesy of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin. Subscribe to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin to keep informed about the Ohio workers’ compensation system.