Young actor in a theater. Theater employees called as witnesses also said stage crew often used the back entrance to load or unload equipment at the theater, and they didn’t know of a penalty for employees who used the back entrance. (Credit: metamorworks/Shutterstock)

A theater security guard’s award of workers compensation benefits has been affirmed by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania even though the guard used a building entrance that his employer had prohibited employees from using. The case is Fine Arts Discovery Series, Inc. v. Critton, 2022 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 444 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2022). Please note that this case is an unpublished decision and may be cited and relied upon when relevant under the doctrine of the law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel. It may also be cited for its persuasive value, but not as binding precedent. 

Daniel Critton worked as a security guard at a theater run by Fine Arts Discovery. In February 2019, Critton attended a theater staff meeting where the head of security reminded employees that they should not use the back entrance; this point was repeated at a special meeting for security staff, including Critton, later that same day. A few weeks later, Critton was walking to the back entrance of the theater to begin his shift when he was injured slipping on ice. The injury was immediately reported, and Critton was treated for a broken arm at the emergency room. Fine Arts Discovery denied his claim because he was using the back entrance at the time he broke his arm. Before a workers compensation judge (WCJ), Fine Arts Discovery asserted the “positive work order” defense, which requires an employer to prove that there was a specific policy in place, the claimant employee knew about the policy, and that the claimant’s conduct at the time of injury removed the claimant from the course of employment. 

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