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Court opens door to challenge Ohio’s comp rules


COLUMBUS Ohio The Ohio Supreme Court has set a precedent for restaurateurs and other employers in the state to challenge Ohio’s no-fault workers comp program, ruling Dec. 27 that profound disregard for safety regulations rendered a KFC employee ineligible for payment.

In decision that drew nationwide attention, the court reasoned that the employee, David Gross, had technically abandoned his job in November 2003 by boiling water in a pressure cooker to clean it, defying warnings from co-workers and his supervisor as well as a cautionary alert on the equipment itself. A warning is also included in the employee handbook used by the franchised Dayton store, which is operated by Cincinnati-based Food, Folks and Fun.

Gross, 16 years old at the time, suffered second and third-degree burns when he lifted the cooker’s lid to view his progress.

By flouting the rules, the court ruled 5-2, Gross in effect had negated the terms of his employment and thereby forfeited his job. Since he wasn’t employed at the time, the court in effect decided, he was not entitled to worker’s comp for the injury.

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