Law School Case Brief
Zhu v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. - 12 Cal. App. 5th 1031, 219 Cal. Rptr. 3d 630 (2017)
When an employee engages in a special activity which is within the course of his employment, and which is reasonably undertaken at the request or invitation of the employer, an injury suffered while traveling to and from the place of such activity is within the course of employment and is compensable. The employer's special request for a service outside the employee's regular duty is a decisive factor, including the performance of the usual service but at an odd hour. Like the furnishing of the employee's vehicle, the travel is at the employer's request and provides a particular advantage to the employer through the bother and effort of the trip itself. Also, where an employee is required by the employment to work at both the employer's premises and at home, he is in the course of employment while traveling between the employer's premises and home. The basic question to be answered in a particular case is whether the trip involves an incidental benefit to the employer, not common to commute trips by ordinary members of the work force.
An in-home caretaker was riding her bicycle from one private home where she worked to another home where she was scheduled to work when she was struck and injured by a car. Her employer, the State Department of Social Services (Department), paid the caretaker for working at both of these locations. When the caretaker claimed compensation benefits against her employer, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board concluded that the going and coming rule barred her claim for workers' compensation benefits but found that the required vehicle exception to the going and coming rule applied because the caretaker was impliedly required to provide her own transportation between patients' homes. The Department, however, insisted that the required vehicle exception did not apply and that the going and coming rule bars the caretaker's recovery.
Was the caretaker entitled to recovery under the workers' compensation statute?
The Court of Appeal annulled the board's decision and remanded, concluding that the caretaker was within the scope of employment when an accident occurred while the she was riding a bicycle between two homes where the claimant provided services. The going and coming rule did not apply because the accident did not occur during a commute between the caretaker's home and the workplace at a fixed time. Moreover, the caretaker's use of the bicycle bestowed a direct benefit on the department, which knew that the caretaker had to transit between homes to service more than one home in a day, and thus, made an implied request for the caretaker to perform such transit as a part of the employment relationship.
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