An appeals court in an out-of-state case recently awarded a police sergeant who was forced to do pushups in preparation for a fitness test more than $12,000 in workers’ compensation benefits. The somewhat unique case could have far-reaching implications for companies across the country.

The Post-Crescent newspaper recently reported on a workers’ compensation battle between the police officer and the city of Appleton, Wisconsin, a four-year battle that the city lost. At the center of the legal battle were, well, pushups.

The case began when a sergeant with the city police department injured his right rotator cuff while doing pushups. He was performing the pushups to prepare for a work-based fitness test that provides employees who are in excellent health with a lump-sum cash premium and a retirement bonus. During part of the test, examiners measure the number of pushups that police officers complete.

The appeals court hearing the case ruled that the pushups, because they were directly related to the police officer’s employment, were not voluntary. Because of this, the officer was within his rights to sue the department and receive workers’ compensation benefits, the appeals court ruled.

The city of Appleton appealed this ruling to the Wisconsin state Supreme Court. That court, though, in August decided against hearing the case. This means, then, that the police officer has won the case and will be collecting $12,500 in workers’ compensation.

A resource claims that the city didn’t try to fight the claim because of the size of the reward. Instead, it fought, the employee said, because a ruling in favor of the plaintiff leaves the city liable for future damages if other employees hurt themselves outside the workplace.

What do you think about this case? Should the officer have been awarded his compensation? Did the pushups fall under the classification of a work-related task in your eyes? Would you have sought workers’ compensation if you were in his position?

Source: Appleton Post-Crescent, “Pay for pushups: City loses legal battle over workers’ compensation,” Nick Penzenstadler, Oct. 31, 2012