On appeal from the Civil Service Commission.
Michels, Pressler and Trautwein. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Michels, P.J.A.D.
Carol Anne Appleby (Appleby) appeals from a final administrative action of the Civil Service Commission (Commission), denying her sick leave injury (SLI) benefits.
The facts giving rise to this appeal are essentially uncontroverted. On November 17, 1981 at approximately 8:00 p.m., Appleby, a Social Worker II with the Division of Youth and Family Services in the Department of Human Services, was involved in an automobile accident. At the time, she was driving home from work after having completed her last assigned client interview at the client's home. Because home visits were part of Appleby's duties, she was not entitled to
overtime wages, but was classified "N.L." (no limit) as to weekly hours.
On this day, Appleby left her office at 2:45 p.m. to conduct four home interviews, the last at 7:00 p.m. She was scheduled to attend a training program early the next morning at the Middlesex County district office. Therefore, she requested and received authorization from Dorothy Borrelli, an assistant supervisor in her office, to take a state automobile home. She had completed her interviews and was on her way home when she was injured in a one-car accident. She claims that she had planned to telephone a fifth client when she arrived home. In the accident, Appleby suffered a slight laceration of her left instep and bruises on her right hip. X-rays at County Memorial Hospital after the accident showed a "questionable cortical fracture" of the right elbow; but an examination by Dr. Jacob Seltzer the next day showed only a contusion of that elbow. Dr. Seltzer could give no estimate of a return to work date because appellant never returned for further examination. However, he allegedly told appellant to stay home the rest of the week, which she did. She then developed headaches and stayed out a total of nine or ten days. On November 30, she was examined by Dr. David Sobel, who found "no neurological deficit" and "no evidence of trauma." He recommended no time off.
By letter of December 18, 1981, the appointing authority denied Appleby SLI benefits, citing the Commission's policy that employees on the way home from work are not in the course of employment for purposes of SLI benefits and suggested that she apply for Workers' Compensation.*fn1 Appleby appealed to the Commission, which denied her appeal.
Appleby appeals to this court contending (1) that the Commission's conclusion that she was not acting within the scope of her
employment at the time of the accident is contrary to the facts, and (2) that the Commission's policy of denying SLI benefits to employees injured going and coming from work violates the mandate of N.J.S.A. 11:14-2. We disagree and affirm.
By virtue of N.J.S.A. 11:14-2, each state employee in the classified civil service is to be granted one day of paid sick leave for each month until the December 31 following his appointment and at least 15 days paid sick leave per year thereafter. Determination of the exact number of sick leave days is expressly left to the chief examiner and secretary of the Commission, who is to fix the number by regulation. The statute reads, in part:
In the preparation and administration of regulations regarding sick leaves of absence with pay as provided in section 11:14-1 of this Title, every employee in the classified service shall, in addition to his annual vacation leave with pay, be granted sick leave, as hereinafter defined, with pay of not less than 1 working day for every month of service during the remainder of the first calendar year of service following permanent appointment, and in addition 15 working days in every calendar year thereafter. If any such employee requires none or only a portion of the allowable sick leave for any calendar year, the amount of such leave not taken shall accumulate to his credit from year to year and such employee shall be entitled to such accumulated sick leave of absence ...