An Arkansas Appeals Court has upheld the ruling of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission that the night manager of a grocery story is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained when he walked a 16 year-old employee to her car at night.
In CV’s Family Foods v. Harold L. Caverly, Case No. CA08-775, on appeal from the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission [NO. F607086], the grocery store had argued there “was no substantial evidence to support the Commission’s decision” that the grocery store manager, Harold Caverly, was “performing employment services when he was injured escorting” the employee to her vehicle after dark, according to court documents.
The court explained the incident in question as follows:
“Appellee [Caverly] was sixty-seven years of age at the time of the injury, and he had been employed by appellant for many years. He testified that the store closed that night at 9:00 p.m. Appellee clocked out, set the alarm, and waited for the only remaining employee, a sixteen-year-old girl, to finish counting the money. Appellee secured the lock, and they left the store together. Employees were required by store policy to park fifty to one-hundred yards away from the store in order to reserve the closer and more desirable parking spots for customers. As they entered the parking lot to walk to their vehicles, appellee noticed that there was a vehicle parked near to that of his employee. Appellee was watching the employee to ensure her safety when he tripped over an unseen concrete barrier in the parking lot and sustained the injury that the Commission found to be compensable.”
Caverly sustained a fractured hip from the fall. In a hearing, he acknowledged that while he thought it was his duty to ensure that his employees reached their vehicles safely, no one ever told him that it was his duty. Caverly’s employer, John P. Wilkinson, testified that it was not a requirement for the manager to make sure an employee reaches her care safely.
The appeals court, however, disagreed. It asserted that Caverly’s action in seeking to assure the safety of his employee was “more than gentlemanly and laudable: it was an activity that came within the scope of his oversight, and it benefitted the employer by ensuring the safety of a trained and valuable employee, and by helping establish a record of safety on the premises that would benefit the employer in its attempts to recruit future employees and to alleviate any fears that potential customers might have about the safety of the parking lot after dark.”
Source: Arkansas Court of Appeals, Divisions III and IV
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