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Scott v. Foodarama Supermarkets

398 N.J. Super. 441, 942 A.2d 107 (App. Div. 2008)

WORKERS COMPENSATION — Where an employee is not being paid for travel time, but is only reimbursed for actual gas consumption plus tolls and wear and tear on the employee’s vehicle, the “going and coming” rule precludes a workers compensation award to the employee who is injured while traveling to and from his or her place of employment.

A supermarket chain’s salaried loss prevention officer was driving home from work when he was injured in an accident. He worked on a time clock, and he was assigned to various supermarkets on a rotating basis. He received $200 a month for wear and tear on his car. That amount was included in his salary. He also was reimbursed for gasoline, tolls, and out-of-pocket expenses. The officer filed for workers compensation benefits, and a workers compensation judge determined that the officer was acting in the course of his employment at the time of the accident, finding that the officer was paid by the mile. He was awarded temporary disability and medical benefits. The supermarket chain appealed, arguing that the officer was not paid for his travel time but only for expenses and thus he was not within the course of his employment while traveling to and from work.

According to the Appellate Division, generally, accidents occurring while an employee is traveling to and from work are not considered within the scope of employment unless the employee is engaged in the direct performance of duties assigned or directed by the employer. This is known as the “going and coming” rule. There is an exception to the rule under the Act when an employee is paid for travel time to and from distant work sites even though the employee may not be acting in the direct performance of his or her duties while traveling. The Court stated that so long as the added compensation is identifiable as for travel time, the travel directly benefits the employer, and the employee is traveling directly to or from his or her home or the designated job site, coverage should be afforded.

In the instant matter, the Court concluded that the officer was not being paid for his travel time, but was only being reimbursed for actual gas consumption plus tolls and wear and tear on his vehicle. Accordingly, the Court reversed the workers compensation award.


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