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PA Court Continues Trend of Expanding the Definition of Work Premises

On February 22, 2018 the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the growing practice of expanding the boundaries of work premises in order to protect employees injured on the job. US Airways, Inc. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Bockelman), 179 A.3d 1177, 1183 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2018), reargument denied (Mar. 28, 2018). A Philadelphia flight attendant working for US Airways, Inc. suffered significant knee and leg injuries while attempting to move her suitcase onto the luggage racks of the shuttle bus that transports employees from a separate parking facility to the workplace of her employer. US Airways did not own, rent, or lease the shuttle buses, and did not require use of the shuttle or provide any directive at all to employees as to how employees should commute to work. The attendant brought a claim seeking compensation to cover the medical expenses for her injuries. The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) found that the employee was injured in the course and scope of her employment, US Airways appealed.

On appeal US Airways challenged the argument that the shuttle was part of the protected premises for employees. The Court emphasized that the term “premises” in the scope of the workplace was not limited solely to property actually owned or leased by the employer. The Court relied on precedent to establish that “premises includes reasonable means of access to the workplace” and that “means of access customarily used by employees” may be considered within the scope of employer’s premises. US Airways understood that employees who drove to work would almost always be required to park in the separate parking facility and use the shuttle system. The court found that the use of the shuttle system was “a necessary part of her employment.” Even if US Airways did not explicitly require its employees to use the shuttle, it was so integral, connected, and expected for employment that the WCJ did not err in concluding that the shuttle was required by nature of the employment. The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board’s order was affirmed, and rearguement was denied on March 28, 2018.

For more information, call our Philadelphia employment lawyers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.