A Walmart employee was recently denied workers’ compensation benefits for an attack she sustained in the store’s parking lot. The arbitrator argued against the employee’s claim because she was off duty at the time of the attack.
In the workers’ compensation case Turner v. Walmart Inc., a part-time Walmart cashier clocked out at 10:03 p.m. on September 16, 2013 after finishing her shift. She then began shopping for groceries in the store. Twenty minutes later, she paid for her groceries and went to her car, which was in an employee designated area of the parking lot. After she loaded her car, an attacker struck her on the back of the head and fled with her purse.
The arbitrator in this matter denied Ms. Turner workers’ compensation benefits, arguing that she failed to prove she was acting in the course of her employment at the time of her assault. Though she was on her employer’s premises, the injured worker was no longer an employee at that time but a paying customer, since she had clocked out and engaged in shopping. Therefore, her decision to remain on the premises was purely personal at that point. Her actions “severed the nexus to her employment,” since she was not performing any duties for the benefit of her employer.
Furthermore, while Ms. Turner was parked in an area of the lot provided by her employer for its employees, both employees and customers shared the lot, and it was still open to the general public. There was also no evidence of an enhanced risk of criminal assault, since the police had not been called in the past for attacks in the parking lot. Therefore, the claimant was not exposed to an increased risk compared to the general public.
If you or a loved one has been injured at your place of employment but are not sure whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, contact one of our Illinois Workers’ Compensation Lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling our firm at (312) 464-1234.