The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission properly denied a benefits claim for an injury the claimant suffered while renovating the Harvey Colored School, a historic school building being restored by the Harvey School Historical Society. The Commission correctly held, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, that the Historical Society was not the claimant’s statutory employer.
The claimant contends that he lost his benefits claim because Code § 65.2-302 wasn’t interpreted liberally in his favor. But rightly applied, the liberal-construction principle means only that an interpretation of the Workers’ Compensation Act should take into account the humane, beneficent purposes embedded in the legislative quid pro quo. Here, the Commission reviewed the history of the Historical Society, its informal governance structure, its charitable and nonprofit purposes, its fundraising and community-outreach efforts, its lack of any experience or involvement in the business of construction or renovation, and its founder’s role in its activities. The claimant failed to persuade the Commission that his reconstruction work on the school building was part of the Historical Society’s trade, business, or occupation. The complete reconstruction of the school was beyond the restoration project envisioned by the Historical Society, and its members were not involved in the reconstruction project or other construction activities.