Facts: Yvonne Slayton worked in the delicatessen department at Costco's
Modesto store, but also occasionally helped out in the bakery. On July
15, 2006, Slayton told her coworker that she had decided to clock out
early, but first planned to stop by the bakery and pick up a cake that
she had ordered for her sister earlier in the day.
Costco policy prohibited employees from purchasing items while on duty,
but they could do so on breaks, as Slayton had done. According to
testimony, employees routinely set aside purchases that they would take
home after completing their shifts.
When Slayton arrived at the bakery, the sole employee stationed there
was attending to four waiting customers. The case was not on the rack
that is normally used for purchases awaiting pickup, so she decided to
package it herself.
Slayton fell while carrying the cake, injuring her right knee. Costco
denied her claim, saying it did not arise out of or occur in the course
Procedural: An administrative law judge ruled that the injury did arise
out of and in the course of employment. The Workers' Compensation
Appeals Board denied Costco's petition for reconsideration.
On appeal, Costco argued that Slayton's injury did not occur while in
the course of employment, because she was not acting to further its
business interests, but instead was making a purchase on behalf of her
Analysis: In its majority opinion, the 5th DCA WCAB recited testimony
that Slayton had told her coworker before picking up the case that she
would “be right back,” meaning that her work shift had not yet ended.
The court noted that when Slayton saw the only worker stationed in the
bakery was busy with customers, she decided to wrap and package the cake
“While perhaps personally motivated to help her sister with purchasing
the cake, Slayton was simultaneously furthering Costco's business
activities, which included producing, packaging, and selling cakes,” the
court said in its opinion. “If Slayton had not retrieved the cake
herself, another staff member would have been needed to perform the