Whether it’s helping stock a local food shelf or running a marathon to raise cancer awareness, there is perhaps no better way to boost morale and encourage bonding among employees than through charitable events. Interestingly enough, however, the mayor of one Chicago suburb is actively moving toward preventing a certain class of employees from participating in just such an event.
According to reports, a group of employees from the Park Ridge Police Department have formed a team comprised of 18 police officers and two civilian employees to take part in a “plane pull” as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run festivities to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois.
Here the plane pull is actually a competition at O’Hare International Airport in which teams go head-to-head to see which one can pull an 180,000-plus pound UPS Airbus A300 airplane a distance of twelve feet in the fastest amount of time.
What exactly is the problem with police officers participating in this charity event?
At several city council meetings this month, Park Ridge Mayor David Schmidt has voiced his concerns about the potential for injuries to the participating police department employees and, perhaps more significantly, the risk of having to pay a potentially large sum to an employee who sustains an injury.
The mayor’s concerns, which appear to be shared by the city council, stem primarily from a recent case in which the city paid $100,000 to a police officer who sustained a serious work injury while moving furniture at the stationhouse.
“Why would we want to have our officers pulling a plane when it cost us $100,000 for an officer who got hurt moving furniture?” he said. “I’ve asked our city manager to research it and get back to me and the council on it.”
For their part, the police officers have indicated that it shouldn’t be an issue since they will all be off-duty at the time of the plane pull. Nevertheless, both Schmidt and the city council are waiting to hear back from the city’s attorneys for the final word on whether to allow the police to participate in the charity drive.
“I have done some workers’ compensation law as a lawyer and if it’s job related, it still may be covered by insurance, even though they are off-duty,” said Schmidt.
If you have been injured at work and need help securing the work comp benefits to which you are legally entitled, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney.
Source: The Chicago Tribune, “Liability concerns raised about Park Ridge police doing charity plane pull,” Bob Chiarito, August 14, 2013