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An employee's fall in a parking lot, located between buildings leased by the employer, while intending to leave the premises for an unpaid lunch is held to be within the scope of employment under §301(c)(1).

October 1, 2010
ICT Group v. WCAB (Churchray-Woytunick), No. 2315 C.D. 2009; filed May 26, 2010; by Judge Brobson

The employer argued that an employee who left the workplace to take an unpaid lunch break and who slipped and fell on the surface of a parking lot not owned or leased by the employer was not "on the premises" thereof and, thus, was outside the scope of her employment. In finding against the employer, the court reaffirmed the principle that a reasonable means of access to the workplace is considered an integral part of the employer's business, citing Newhouse v. WCAB (Harris Cleaning Services), 530 A.2d 545, 546-47 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987). Here, the lot was adjacent to and within ten feet of the workplace, between two buildings housing the employer's operations, and the area where the claimant fell was reserved for ICT's employees. These facts distinguished the case from Ott v. WCAB (PPL Services Corp.), 874 A.2d 1264 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005), which held that the parking lot was not an integral part of the employer's business because use thereof was purely optional and it was located about one block from the business. The court also rejected the employer's argument that because the claimant fell while on her lunch break and was not required to be at the site where she fell, the injury was not compensable. Although usually reserved for situations where the employee is arriving for work or leaving the workplace at the end of the workday, the court invoked the rule here that, since the employee was required to take lunch during a predetermined time and was within ten feet of the workplace in a location she parked every day, the case was compensable.

Case Law Alert, 4th Qtr 2010

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Francis X. Wickersham
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