Pueblo County, Colorado; and County Technical Services, Inc., Petitioners,
Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado; and Mary Rodriguez, Respondents.
Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado WC No.
Dworkin, Chambers, Williams, York, Benson & Evans, P.C.,
Mary B. Pucelik, Denver, Colorado, for Petitioner
Appearance for Respondent Industrial Claim Appeals Office
Michael W. Seckar, P.C., Lawrence D. Saunders, Pueblo,
Colorado, for Respondent Mary Rodriguez
and Fox, JJ., concur.
1 This appeal presents a workers' compensation question
of first impression in Colorado. Is an injury sustained by a
union officer during attendance at a union meeting to review
an employer's proposal for a new collective bargaining
agreement compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act
of Colorado (Act), sections 8-40-101 to 8-47-209, C.R.S.
2016? Applying the mutual benefit doctrine, we conclude, in
the context of this case, that the answer is yes.
2 Claimant, Mary Rodriguez, was the president of the local
union. She worked for Pueblo County (employer) in the Housing
and Human Services Department. Membership is required for
workers in a "bargaining unit" and union dues are
deducted from workers' paychecks, but participation in
meetings is voluntary.
3 On December 11, 2012, claimant stayed after work for a
union meeting. The meeting was held immediately after
claimant clocked out for the day and took place in a
conference room in the building in which she worked. Employer
does not pay workers for the time spent in union activities,
but it makes conference rooms in county buildings available
for union meetings.
4 The purpose of the meeting was to review and make any
necessary changes to the new collective bargaining agreement
that was being negotiated. No one in management attended the
5 After the meeting ended, claimant walked to the adjacent
parking lot where she normally parked at work. Claimant
opened her car door, reached in to place a few items on the
seat, turned around to get into the car, and slipped on ice.
She fell, hitting the frame of the car door and injuring her
shoulder, wrist, elbow, and shin.
6 Claimant filed a workers' compensation claim for her
medical expenses. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied
and dismissed the claim, concluding that claimant "was
not in the course and scope of her employment at the time of
her injury." In doing so, the ALJ pointed out that
"as a general rule, union activities are personal and,
therefore, if a worker is injured while participating in a
union meeting, the claim is not compensable."
7 The Industrial Claim Appeals Office Panel (Panel) disagreed
with the ALJ, concluding that claimant's union activities
were "sufficiently incidental" to her work "as
to be properly considered as arising out of and in the course
of employment." The Panel also stated that,
"assuming arguendo, that the claimant was required to
prove a benefit to the employer . . . the claimant met that
8 Accordingly, the Panel determined that claimant's
injury occurred in the course and scope of her employment and
arose out of her employment. It thus remanded the ...