Employee Going To Work In Privately Owned Vehicle May Be Within Scope Of Employment.

In Laird v. Whager, the New Jersey Appellate Division in applying the “going and coming” rule reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the employer, Securitas, for a fatal accident caused by its employee, Whager.

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer may be held liable for the actions of an employee who at the time of the occurence ” was acting within the scope of his or her employment”. Generally , however, respondeat superior does not extend to employee conduct occuring when the employee is traveling to and from work in his or her own vehicle.

Here, the court found that per Securitas instructions,  the Securitas employee arrived at a location in close proximity to the job site at 8 pm where he waited until “dusk” before proceeding to the job site and beginning his security work, the employee’s services were billed starting at 8 pm , and the employee was required to bring a vehicle to the job site for shelter in the event of bad weather.

The Appellate Division noted that New Jersey recognizes 3 ” dual purpose ” exceptions to the going and coming rule, including where the employer requires the employee to drive his or her personal vehicle to work to be used for work related tasks. The court found genuine issues of fact, reversed summary judgment to the employer and remanded the case for trial.

Please contact Robert Ball at rball@wcmlw.com with any questions regarding this post.