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Pastor An Employee, Court Rules

Classification means church must pay workers compensation insurance.

St. John's Lutheran Church v. State Compensation Insurance Fund, 830 P.2d 1271 (Mont. 1992)
Key point: In some states, clergy are considered to be employees protected by workers compensation law. This may mean that their employing church must pay workers compensation insurance for both clergy and lay employees.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that a Lutheran pastor was an employee of his church for purposes of workers compensation coverage, and accordingly the church had to pay workers compensation insurance for him.

The church argued that its pastor was self-employed rather than an employee, and pointed out that the pastor reported his federal income taxes and social security taxes as a self-employed person. It also vigorously maintained that the relationship between a church and its pastor is a purely theological matter, and that by "calling" a pastor a church "does not ...

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  • March 1, 1993

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