Rahla v. Medical Center at Bowling Green, 2014-SC-000236-WC (Ky. 2016) (to be published): Injuries sustained during the course of a pre-employment physical examination are not work-related.

In Rahla, the claimant applied for a position with the Medical Center at Bowling Green. She completed the interview process and received a written offer contingent upon passing a physical examination and a substance-abuse screen.  As part of the examination, she was required to perform a functional capacity evaluation.  During that examination she injured her neck.  However, she passed the physical examination and the substance-abuse screening and was hired.  She reported to work three weeks later, but her neck pain lingered.  She eventually required surgery and she filed a claim for benefits. The claim was denied at all levels with the Supreme Court affirming.

The Court reasoned that because Rahla was not employed at the time of the injury and was not performing a service  to the employer, the claim was not compensable. As Rahla only received confirmation of her hiring after the exam was completed and since she did not start employment until three weeks later, the Court concluded she was not an employee under KRS 342.640(1).

Further, the physical exam was not a service because it was not work in furtherance of the employer’s business and there was no scenario where Rahla could have expected payment for the physical examination. KRS 342.640(4)

The Court differentiated this situation from the scenario where an employee tries out a new position on a trial basis without pay to demonstrate his abilities, as doing so constitutes employment activities or conditions.

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