After David Gross suffered severe burns while cleaning a pressure cooker at a KFC restaurant chain, the 16-year-old high school student began receiving workers' compensation for his injuries. However, after the company investigated the claim, it found Gross was ineligible for workers' comp because he had violated KFC safety rules, which resulted in his termination.
On Dec. 27, Ohio's Supreme Court found in favor of Food, Folks & Fun Inc., which owns KFC, reversing a lower court's ruling that upheld Gross' right to receive compensation.
At the heart of the issue was whether Gross' termination resulted from his injury or his violation of a safety rule. According to the decision, Gross received an employee handbook when he joined KFC in 2003, which explicitly told employees to "never boil water in a cooker to clean it," and stated that safety violations were grounds for immediate termination. Gross ignored the rule--causing an explosion that burned him and two other workers.
The appeals court concluded that Gross was terminated because of the injury and, therefore, entitled to temporary total disability benefits. However, the Supreme Court found ample evidence that showed Gross voluntarily abandoned his job by flagrantly disobeying the safety rules and therefore is ineligible for compensation.