This week, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 7-0 in favor of Kim Goulding in the Court’s decision in Kim Goulding v. NJ Friendship House, Inc. Ms. Goulding was represented by Richard A. Grodeck, a partner with Piro Zinna Cifelli Paris & Genitempo, LLC, a Nutley-based firm. The Court’s decision, coming after rejection from two lower Courts, is a win for employees who are hurt during social or recreational activities of their employers.
Goulding, was an employee of North Friendship House, Inc., where she worked as a cook. In September of 2017, her company hosted a “Family Fun Day.” While she was not required to work, Goulding volunteered to cook on her own time.
After preparing breakfast, and while preparing lunch, Kim stepped in a pothole and fell, injuring her ankle. Despite her injury, she assisted cooking lunch.
Goulding’s Worker’s Compensation claim was rejected by both the Worker’s Compensation Court and then the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. Despite these set-backs, Piro Zinna Partner, Richard Grodeck, fought on for Goulding and filed an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
“Kim volunteered her personal time for the success of her employer’s event. She worked in her usual job and did not look to get paid. Through no fault of her own, she was hurt. She was a good Samaritan. She should have been protected by receiving worker’s compensation benefits even though she volunteered her pay to her employer that day. I knew that Kim needed someone to fight for her.”, Grodeck said.
The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed. In a unanimous decision, the Court ruled that Kim is entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. The Court noted that she was benefiting her employer at this public event that promoted community out-reach. In addition, when she was hurt, she was doing the same thing for her employer that she would usually have gotten paid for, cooking.
Grodeck concluded, “On two occasions, when the Courts told Kim, ‘no’, we didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I am gratified that the Supreme Court saw Kim’s plight the same way I did.”