What is the Personal Comfort Doctrine?

by Kara Dolan-West | Dec 22, 2014 | Workers' Compensation

The personal comfort doctrine is a legal principle that states that the course of employment is not interrupted by certain acts relating to the employee’s personal comfort (such as short breaks for eating, drinking, using the restroom, smoking, and the like). Courts utilize the personal comfort doctrine to determine when an entirely personal workplace activity is sufficiently incidental to the employment to permit recovery under a workers’ compensation statute.

In holding that injuries which occur during personal comfort times occurred in the “course of employment,” courts have reasoned that employee’s conduct is “appropriate and helpful to the accomplishment of the purpose of the employment, and that “the injury followed as a natural incident of the work and as a result of exposure occasioned by the nature, conditions or surroundings of the employment.”

Tags: personal comfort; personal comfort doctrine; break time injury; injury at lunch