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Free v. Indus. Comm’n of Ariz. - 7/23/2020

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that an employee’s average monthly wage does not include an unused per diem food allowance.

An employee traveled regularly for work and was provided a per diem based on the federal government’s location-based reimbursement rates for meal expenses.  After injuring her shoulder, the employee filed for worker’s compensation, which was awarded, but without her per diem being included in the calculated wages.  The employee appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that only in cases where an employee is provided a per diem that is more than an approximately reasonably reimbursement for the expense involved can that per diem be included in a wage calculation.  Here, the Court held that the federal government’s location-based reimbursement rates for meal expenses are objectively reasonable.  And even if the employee had shown the per diem were unreasonable, the Court noted she provided no evidence of her actual expenses compared to the per diem.

Judge Perkins authored the opinion; Judges Weinzweig and Morse concurred.

Posted by: Travis Hunt

Posted On: 9/10/2020