Employee's Misconduct May Bar Recovery
a general rule, employee fault does not bar an award of worker’s
compensation. Rather, such awards are determined based on whether the
injury occurs within the scope of employment and without reference to
fault. However, some statutes provide for various defenses that
employers might invoke to deny or reduce compensation awards when the
injury resulted from employee misconduct. Among those defenses are
willful misconduct, injury by intoxication, self-injury and injury by
conduct specifically prohibited by the employer or the law.
Nevertheless, none of these defenses are absolute. In this section, I
discuss how each potential employer defense is limited in scope and
subject to rebuttal by the employee. Finally, employee fault may be
relevant in the context of intoxication, illegal acts and self-injury
to the extent that such fault constitute a departure from employment.