Costco Wholesale and Sedgwick CMS v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board and Yvonne Slayton, No. F057008 (Cal. Ct. App. 03/27/09, unpublished).
The California Court of Appeal found the claimant's slip-and-fall accident arose out of and in the course and scope of her employment.
What it means: In California, an act of personal convenience will be considered in the course of employment so long as it is reasonably contemplated and provides some benefit, no matter how minimal, to the employer.
Summary: The claimant worked in the employer's deli department and occasionally in the bakery department. The claimant fell and injured her right knee when she went into the bakery to retrieve a cake she had purchased for her sister. The employer denied reimbursement for her knee surgery, claiming the accident was not work-related and that picking up the cake while still on the clock was a violation of the store rules. The Court of Appeal ruled that the injury both arose out of and in the course of her employment.
The court determined that retrieving the cake was more than a personal convenience. The claimant was simultaneously providing a financial benefit to the store in furtherance of the store's business activities. The court stated that according to the state's "dual purpose doctrine" when an employee combines her own business with that of the employer or attends to both at substantially the same time, the court will not make an inquiry into which business the employee was actually engaged in at the time of injury, unless it clearly appears that neither could be serving the employer.
The court reasoned that her injury occurred during her regularly scheduled shift, and that even though she had planned to leave work early, she was still on the clock. The court pointed to evidence that it was common practice for employees to set aside items and pay for them after their shift ended. If she had not retrieved the cake herself, another staff member would have had to retrieve the cake for her. The court affirmed the award of benefits and granted the employee's request to remand the case to determine her attorney's fees.
May 7, 2009
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