Denial of Benefits to Voluntary Police Unconstitutional

September 26, 2005 ( - The US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado has ruled that a voluntary police officer may get worker's compensation benefits.

According to Business Insurance, the appellate court ruled that a provision in Colorado’s worker’s compensation law that allows municipalities to deny worker’s compensation benefits to voluntary police officers is unconstitutional. In its decision, the court said that the law violated equal protection guarantees because other types of volunteers, including posse members, firefighters, and rescue and ambulance teams, are considered employees for purposes of eligibility for worker’s compensation benefits.

Booth Pepper “allegedly suffered mental impairment and experienced stress as a result of a shooting incident” while he was a member of the Florence, Colorado volunteer police reserves in 2001, according to the court document, Business Insurance reports. He filed for worker’s comp benefits, but the Industrial Claim Appeals Office denied his claim since the city of Florence had previously decided that volunteer police reservists were not eligible for workers comp coverage.

Business Insurance reports that the court set aside the Office’s decision and sent Pepper’s claim back to them for further consideration.