Employment: Employee

MONTANA SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
Hopkins v. Uninsured Employers' Fund, 2011 MT 49 The Montana Supreme Court affirmed this Court’s conclusion that the appellant, who assigned the claimant tasks and regularly paid him, was an employer within the meaning of the applicable statutes.  The “exchange of money for favors” is called “employment.”
Schimmel v. UEF, 2001 MT 280 WCC erred in concluding long-haul trucking company was not required to insure truck driver in Montana. Under section 39-71-118(1)(a), MCA (1997), an "employee" is "each person in this state, including a contractor other than an independent contractor, who is in the service of an employer, as defined in 39-71-117, under any appointment or contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written." This provision is determinative of the employee status of claimant, who resided in Montana. WCC erred in looking to section 39-71-118(10)(a), MCA, which defines an "employee or worker in this state" as "a resident of Montana who is employed by an employer and whose employment duties are primarily carried out or controlled within this state." That provision defines only the phrase "employee or worker in this state," a phrase used in section 39-71-118(8), MCA (1997), not the term "employee."
Dyess v. Meagher County [4/10/03] 2003 MT 78 A person enrolled in an Emergency Medical Technician training course, which includes participation in at least 10 hours of work-based learning activities on an ambulance, but involves no contract of employment or anticipated employment, no wages, and no actual services performed, is not an "employee" or "worker" within section 39-71-118(1)(g), MCA.
Dahl v. UEF, 1999 MT 168 Workers used to meet a company's baseline needs and working continuously and consistently for a company are not temporary employees within section 39-71-116(29), MCA (1993). Where section 39-71-401(1), MCA (1993), requires an employer to elect to be bound by the provisions of compensation plan No. 1, 2, or 3, an employer may not rely upon a workers' compensation policy purchased by a company furnishing employees and providing bookkeeping services such as issuing of payroll checks and paying employment taxes if the workers in question are in fact employees and not temporary workers. If a company has employees but does not itself carry workers' compensation insurance, the employer is uninsured under section 39-71-501, MCA (1993) if it does not itself carry workers' compensation insurance.
 
MONTANA WORKERS' COMPENSATION COURT DECISIONS

Erhard v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp. [08/01/12] 2012 MTWCC 26 An employment relationship is a contract between an employer and an employee, and whether an employment relationship exists is a question of contract law.  An agreement may contain conditions precedent which the parties must meet before the employment relationship begins.  Here, Petitioner was required to complete all necessary paperwork, sign a job application, and have the physical ability to perform the duties of the job.  Because Petitioner had not satisfied the conditions precedent at the time of his accident and injury, no employment agreement existed and he was therefore not injured in the course and scope of his employment. 

Geiger v. UEF [8/22/01] 2001 MTWCC 46 Sections 39-71-117 and -118, MCA (1997), which define "employee" and "employer," indirectly establish who must provide workers' compensation coverage and what workers are covered under the Montana Workers' Compensation Act. Where claimant was operating his own independent trucking business, he was not "in the service of an employer" within the meaning of section 39-71-118, MCA (1997). Thus, he was not entitled to benefits, and UEF correctly denied his claim. (Affirmed in Geiger v. UEF/Deckert 2002 MT 332.)
Thoreson v. UEF [6/28/00] 2000 MTWCC 40 Under 39-71-118 MCA (1997), a worker is an employee for whom an employer must carry WC insurance only if he is a resident of Montana whose employment duties are primarily carried out or controlled within this state. Where the alleged employer had offices in and controlled its business from Washington, and most of claimant's long-haul truck driving occurred outside Montana, claimant was not a "worker in this state" and Montana WC coverage was not required.

Schimmel v. UEF [6/28/00] 2000 MTWCC 41 Under 39-71-118, MCA (1997), a worker is an employee for whom an employer must carry WC insurance only if he is a resident of Montana whose employment duties are primarily carried out or controlled within this state. Where the alleged employer had offices in and controlled its business from Washington, and most of claimant's long-haul truck driving occurred outside Montana, claimant was not a "worker in this state" and Montana WC coverage was not required. [Note: The Montana Supreme Court reversed the WCC on this point. See Schimmel v. UEF, 2001 MT 280.]

Schimmel v. UEF [4/4/00] 2000 MTWCC 19 SJ motion arguing claimant was not sufficiently connected with Montana to constitute "employee" within MT WCA denied where evidence does not establish whether or not claimant spent more time in MT than any other state.
Synthetic Technologies Corp. and Weatherguard Corp. v. ERD, UEF [9/1/99] 1999 MTWCC 55 WCC affirmed DOL decision that corporations employing "shareholders" were uninsured and liable for penalties. Exemption under section 39-71-401, MCA (1995) for 20% shareholders did not apply because "shareholders" did not in fact own stock where they could be divested of ownership by others without compensation and one person had obtained "irrevocable proxy" for all shares.
Jensen v. State Fund [4/2/99] 1999 MTWCC 25 Where insurer has conceded claimant was an employee and not an independent contractor, employer cannot dispute that concession in workers' compensation proceeding.
Z Works, Inc. v. Barnaby and UEF [3/3/98] 1998 MTWCC 19 Summary judgment granted to UEF establishing liability of uninsured employer where undisputed affidavit proves painter/bookkeeper had not been granted an independent contractor exemption under section 39-71-120, MCA (1995). While the requirement of an exemption may be a trap for employers unschooled in the technicalities of the 1995 legislation, which added the exemption requirement, the Court must apply the law as written. Even assuming claimant told the employer not to purchase workers' compensation insurance, the advice of a bookkeeper or accountant, or even an attorney, cannot relieve the employer from its statutory obligation.
Daenzer v. State Fund/Curtis Bartell [1/29/98] 1998 MTWCC 4 As the logger claimant's employer, petitioner was required to maintain workers' compensation insurance, §39-71-401, MCA (1993), and in failing to do so is personally liable for benefits, §39-71-515(4), MCA (1993). As insurer for the logging company with which petitioner had contracted, State Fund was secondarily liable under section 39-71-405, MCA (1993), but is entitled to indemnification from petitioner.
Hammer v. UEF [5/31/96] 1996 MTWCC 40 Claimant temporarily living with alleged employer per terms of release on her own recognizance from criminal charges was employee within WCA where she worked for board and room. She was, however, exempt from the WCA under the provision relating to work for "aid and sustenance only" set out in section 39-71-401(h), MCA (1991). Note: this decision was affirmed by the Montana Supreme Court in Hammer v. Uninsured Employers' Fund, 280 Mont. 371, 929 P.2d 883 (1996).