The coming-and-going rule usually prevents employees who get hurt en route to or from work from getting workers’ comp. But what about an employee who’s coming to work for the second time in one day, because he forgot something the first time and went back home to get it?
That was what a Nebraska court had to decide in the case of Parks v. Marsden. And it came down in favor of the employee.
Gill Parks worked a second job as a janitorial supervisor at a building in Omaha from 4 p.m. to midnight.
On the day in question, he arrived at work and clocked in, but then realized he’d left his lanyard with his identification badge and access card to the building at home — not the first time he’d done that, his wife later testified.
Since the building locked down at 6 p.m., he wouldn’t be able to gain access to various suites without his card.
So he drove back home to get it, without clocking out. On his way back to work, he had a serious accident resulting in, among other things, a traumatic brain injury, fractured vertebrae, a ruptured spleen, and multiple rib fractures.
The question for the court: Were the injuries work-related?
The company argued that his decision to leave after his shift had started amounted to a substantial enough deviation from employment that comp wasn’t warranted.
But the court disagreed. It said the accident had arisen out of, and was within the course of, his employment.
Its reasoning: He hadn’t left for any reasons having to do with personal convenience or comfort. He’d left only because he thought he had to. The company had a rule. No one was allowed to borrow anyone else’s access card. And employees were instructed not to let anyone in the building without one.
He had to have his access card, said the court, to do his job.
It didn’t even matter that he’d broken a couple of other rules to get it. He was supposed to clock out if he left, and he was supposed to get permission to leave. He did neither, but those didn’t constitute enough of a deviation from his employment, said the court.
He was on the clock, and the trip home was related to his job duties, so the events that transpired did so within the course of his employment, the court ruled.
Was it the right decision? Let us know what you think in the comment box below.