Abraham Alex was employed as a security officer/guard by All Nation Security Services, Inc.
On August 24, 2017 a homeless person came inside the lobby of the Greyhound bus station where he was working. The homeless person was dancing and speaking badly in the lobby. An employee asked Applicant to escort the homeless person outside. Applicant asked whether the homeless person had a ticket and asked him to leave. The homeless person did not leave and cursed at Applicant and hit Applicant in the left temple with a fist. Applicant fell outside the lobby and the homeless person ran off.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury with evidence of intracranial hemorrhage for which he underwent surgery and continues to have symptoms associated with concussion. He filed a workers’ compensation claim for his injuries.
Company rules state that the security officer is expected to manage aggressive behavior or disturbed persons but refrain from chasing, restraining, and subduing individuals. The employee manual it provides that the security offices are “expected to challenge persons in a professional manner to enforce access to restricted areas” but are not to put themselves in danger. It further instructs officers to diffuse incidents verbally or call the proper authorities and refrain from touching, tackling, chasing, assaulting or grabbing anyone.
The employer denied the injury claiming it was outside the scope of his employment. However the WCJ concluded that “the record shows Applicant was performing his job as a security guard in furtherance of the Greyhound business when he was injured. This is true even if the injury was caused by an impact with the ground outside the station or if Applicant violated a policy in the process. Applicant is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.”
Reconsideration was denied in the panel decision of Abraham Alex v All Nation Security Services Inc.
In Westbrooks v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. and Greyhound Lines (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 249 [53 Cal.Comp.Cases 157], the Court of Appeals stated: Employee misconduct, whether negligent, willful, or even criminal, does not necessarily preclude recovery under workers’ compensation law. In the absence of an applicable statutory defense, such misconduct will bar recovery only when it constitutes a deviation from the scope of employment.
In determining whether particular misconduct takes an employee outside the scope of his employment, “A distinction must be made between an unauthorized departure from the course of employment and the performance of a duty in an unauthorized manner. Injury occurring during the course of the former conduct is not compensable. The latter conduct, while it may constitute serious and willful misconduct by the employee (Lab. Code, § 4551), does not take the employee outside the course of his employment.”
If the employment places an applicant in a location and he or she was doing an activity reasonably attributable to employment or incidental thereto, an applicant will be in the course of employment and the injury may be industrially related. (Western Greyhound Lines v. Ind. Acc. Com. (Brooks) (1964) 225 Cal.App.2d 517 [29 Cal.Comp.Cases 43].)