Whether an employee hurt during the commute to work is covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (Act) is always a difficult analysis, and one we often encounter here. Each case depends on the specific facts involved. While most employees (those who are “stationary” employees) are not covered for the commute to work, one reaches a point in the commute when the employee is no longer still commuting, but has, for the purposes of the law, arrived at work. “Parking lot” cases are frequently an aspect of this situation.
Recently, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania made a decision in the matter of US Airways, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Bockelman). This was one of those “parking lot” cases. Here, the employee (Claimant) labored for US Airways as a Philadelphia-based flight attendant. Employees were not required to drive to work, but, if they did so, there were two designated employee parking lots. These lots were owned, operated, and maintained by the City of Philadelphia/Division of Aviation (DOA), for the use of all airport employees, not just those of US Airways. An employee identification badge was required to park in these lots. A shuttle bus, operated by DOA (and not US Airways) then took the employee from the lots to the airport terminal. Claimant hurt her left foot when she slipped while riding this shuttle bus after parking her car.
As could be expected, the Employer denied that Claimant was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, since her injury was sustained while on the commute to work. A Claim Petition was filed. After considering the evidence, the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) found that Claimant was within the scope and course of her employment at the time of the injury, and granted the Claim Petition. This was affirmed by the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB).