Hiring Employees Receiving Workers Compensation Benefits
Recent case illustrates potential problems in hiring employees receiving these benefits.

State ex rel. Rollins v. Industrial Commission, 2004 WL 422684 (Ohio App. 2004)

Background. A pastor had a second job working for a secular employer. He sustained an injury while working for the secular employer and was awarded monthly benefits under the state's workers compensation program based on his medical inability to return to work.

The pastor was able to continue his duties as senior pastor of his church where he conducted three services each week. The church paid him a fixed amount each week, payable by check. The checks noted that the money was a "love offering."

The state workers compensation agency received information that the pastor was employed while receiving workers compensation benefits, and it conducted an investigation. The pastor admitted that he received the money but stated that his service to the church was not employment, and that he was just "serving God." He said he had been the pastor before the injury and simply continued to serve his church after his injury. He explained that, during a church service, he would read a passage from the Bible and then explain or preach whatever God placed on his heart, which was "not a job but a privilege." A member of the church stated that there was no job description or job application.

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