Traveling Employee Doctrine provides more protection for traveling employees who are injured in transit
December 2, 2021
The case of Peters v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Cintas Corporation) is the first time the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has specifically addressed the Traveling Employee Doctrine, which gives traveling workers the benefit of the doubt that any traveling is part of their work responsibilities.
Mr. Peters was a traveling salesman for Cintas and was injured on his way home from a work sponsored after hours event. The lower courts had ruled that Mr. Peters was not eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits but the PA Supreme Court noted that “The issue herein is whether Employer rebutted the presumption that as a traveling employee who set out to work in the morning, Claimant’s injury occurred while in the course and scope of his employment.” The Court found that “The traveling employee doctrine…provides a broader scope of employment for traveling employees than stationary employees.” It becomes the burden of the Employer to then prove that the worker had abandoned his employment prior to becoming injured.
Previously, the Workers’ Compensation Judge had held that the event was voluntary and not a work event – therefore it was not in the scope of employment. However, the PA Supreme Court ruled that the event benefited the employer and was enough of a work event that it did not constitute “abandonment” of Mr. Peter’s job. Thus, the worker was eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
What does this mean? Under the traveling employee doctrine, the onus is on the Employer to prove that a worker has “abandoned” his or her job duties. The doctrine provides a broader scope of employment that helps to protect traveling employees who are injured while working on the road.
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