Firm News | December 29, 2021

Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo Solidifies Rights of Traveling Employees in Unanimous State Supreme Court Case

It has been long-established that a traveling employee ― one who has no fixed place of work or for whom travel is an integral and regular part of one’s employment ― is considered in the course of scope of work when coming and going to work. This gives such employees a large scope of coverage under workers’ compensation insurance, as even their travels are covered employment, whereas an employee with a fixed place of work would not be covered when in transit to or from work. Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo’s Alexis Berg-Townsend, a partner at the firm, successfully solidified these rights of traveling employees at the state’s highest court.

Our firm is proud to announce that on November 17, 2021, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its decision in Peters v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Cintas Corp.), No. 1 MAP 2020, 2021 Pa. LEXIS 4002 (Nov. 17, 2021). This unanimous and critical decision overturned numerous holdings of lower courts that unfairly held that a traveling employee was not within the course and scope of his employment after departing a work-sponsored event. It was during this travel that the employee in question suffered an automobile accident, which was not covered by workers’ compensation insurance under the original decisions.

In overruling the Commonwealth Court’s decision, the Supreme Court disagreed with the Commonwealth Court’s contention that the claimant abandoned the course and scope of his employment and was thus no longer covered because traveling to the work-sponsored event happened to take claimant past the exit for his home. The Supreme Court stated, “An employee’s course of employment does not end simply because the employee passed his or her home during the workday. For example, if claimant had passed his home while traveling from one customer to the next, he surely would not have ceased to be in the course of his employment simply by passing his home.”

Next, the Supreme Court held that the fact that the work-related event that was voluntary and social in nature did not remove claimant from the course of his employment.

Alexis Berg-Townsend said the following after receiving word of the decision: “This decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is a unanimous confirmation that traveling workers in Pennsylvania are entitled to the highest level of protection available under the workers’ compensation system. If your job is to travel for your employer, it is only fair that you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance while you are doing so. No such person should be arbitrarily deprived of such protection just because they happen to pass their house or because they attend their employer’s own event.”

I would like to thank my associate, William Clifford Rambo, for his assistance every step of the way in achieving this victory. We are proud to have done our part in securing the rights of Pennsylvania’s traveling workers.”

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