Q: I was a police officer employed by the Town, and a candidate for the County’s part-time SWAT team. During a physical fitness test in connection with my candidacy, I suffered heat stroke. For the purpose of the test, I was under the control of the County. However, the Town paid my wages, gave me permission to attend the team test on my regular work day, paid my workers’ compensation benefits, and retained the authority to discharge or discipline me.
A: As an employee who was entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you may not sue your employer for injuries occurring during the course of employment. Seemingly, the Town was your employer, and only the County may be vulnerable to a lawsuit. However, the County may contend that, no, it was your ‘special’ employer.
Determining whether a special employment relationship involves a number of questions. Who controlled and directed the manner of your work? Who was responsible for payment of wages and benefits? Who furnished the equipment? Who had the right to discharge you? Was the physical fitness test in furtherance of the County’s business, or the Town’s?
General employment is presumed to continue, and the presumption can only be rebutted by a clear demonstration of surrender of control by the Town and assumption of control by the County. To establish its immunity to a negligence suit, the County will need to submit sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption that you remained a general employee under the control of the Town. Otherwise, the County will need to rebut whatever proof you may have of its negligence, if any.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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