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Grant v. Blazer Coordinating Council of Youth Development

Decided: June 17, 1970.

EVA GRANT, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
BLAZER COORDINATING COUNCIL OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



Yancey, J.c.c.

Yancey

This case is an appeal from a judgment of the Division of Workmen's Compensation. The facts are not in dispute. Petitioner Eva Grant sustained injuries when she slipped and fell at the food preparation center of respondent-appellant Blazer Coordinating Council of Youth Development.

At the time of the accident petitioner was a trainee in the Blazer Work Program. She had been participating in this program for 1 I/4 years. Respondent is a work-training program which is funded primarily by the Office of Economic Opportunity. As part of its entire operation respondent created the Blazer Work Training Program. This program was funded expressly to train "Title 5" students. "Title 5" is a work experience program which is an arm of the Department of Welfare of the City of Newark. The purpose of the Blazer Work Training Program was to coordinate a program in conjunction with the "Title 5" of Newark to make welfare recipients employable.

At the time of the accident petitioner was a welfare recipient. She was sent to respondent's Blazer Work Training Program by the Department of Welfare of Newark. Most trainees in the Blazer Work Training Program were in fact referred to respondent by "Title 5" of the Department of Welfare. While trainees were in this program they received their regular assistance check from "Title 5" of

the Welfare Department and an additional $44 to $50 per month for lunch money, transportation and other expenses involved in participating in the program.

Respondent is a nonprofit organization. It maintains several schools in the Newark area for the purpose of training the individuals referred to them. One of their schools was designed for instruction in the preparation of food and catering. The trainees were taught how to prepare foods and how to serve them. To implement the program a lunch kitchen was opened by the food preparation section of Blazer. The restaurant so formed was not federally funded; rather, it obtained its original support from the individual staff members who contributed $33 to $35 each to the program. The monies taken in from persons who purchased their luncheon at respondent's restaurant were funneled back into the program for purchase of further foodstuffs. Eventually the food-serving program became self-supporting.

At the time of the injury petitioner was a trainee in Blazer. She slipped and fell while serving tables at respondent's restaurant. Her total income at that time consisted of $84 a month from the Newark Department of Welfare, plus an additional $44 a month she received for the expenses incurred while working in the program. The only other income petitioner received was tips which she made while serving lunch at the Blazer Food Preparation Center. At a hearing in the Division of Workmen's Compensation there was an award of temporary and permanent disability.

Appellant's first contention is that an employer-employee relationship did not exist between it and petitioner. This relationship is the essential basis of recovery under the Workmen's Compensation Law. Heget v. Christ Hospital , 26 N.J. Misc. , 189 (C.P. 1948). Krause v. Hamline University , 243 Minn. 416, 68 N.W. 2d 124 (Sup. Ct. 1955); 1A Larson, Workmen's Compensation Law , § 47.43(a) (1967). A number of tests are used to determine whether an employer-employee relationship exists.

The payment of wages may be one of the elements of proof in determining whether a relationship of employer-employee exists at a particular moment for the purposes of Workmen's Compensation, but it is not a controlling factor. The Court will also consider the factors of hiring, control, and power of dismissal, with control being the single most important factor. [ Silagy v. State of New Jersey and County of Mercer , 101 N.J. Super. 455, 459 (Cty. Ct. 1968), aff'd 105 N.J. Super. 507 (App. Div. 1969)]

1A Larson, op. cit. , § 44.00.

In the present case there is no conclusive evidence that petitioner received any sort of wages from appellant. Quite to the contrary, appellant is a nonprofit organization designed as a training school for unemployable welfare recipients. Its function was not to be in the restaurant business but to operate a training school. Nevertheless, our Compensation Act does not limit the term "employee" to narrow, common law concepts or ordinary wage earners because it also "includes all natural persons * * * who perform services for an employer for financial consideration." N.J.S.A. 34:15-36. Gross v. Pellicane , 65 N.J. Super. 386, 394 (Cty. Ct. 1961). "Financial consideration" has been held to include anything of value to be received in return for services rendered, but not hope of future favors. N.J.S.A. 34:15-7, 36. Hawksford v. Steinbacher Packing Co. , 73 N.J. Super. 175 (Cty. Ct. 1962), aff'd 80 N.J. Super. 129 (App. Div. 1963); 1A Larson, op. cit. , § 47.43(a), at 784-5. Food and lodging were held to constitute "financial consideration" in the case of Johnson v. Industrial Commission , 88 Ariz. 354, 356 P. 2d 1021 (Sup. Ct. 1960). In Johnson prisoners from the county jail were loaned to a private corporation to perform work for it. They were at all times under the direction of the corporation's employees. The prisoners received no ...


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