Earlier this week, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that a religious colony must purchase workers compensation insurance for its members working in commercial enterprises. The justices were divided in their 4-3 decision in "Big Sky Colony Inc. v. Montana Department of Labor and Industry."
According to a Business Insurance article, the Hutterische Church Society live communal lifestyles, similar to the Amish and Mennonites. Traditionally, the Hutterites specialize in agricultural work, but have expanded into construction, which raised complaints from businesses saying that they could not competitively bid against the group.
"In 2010 the colony sued the department, alleging the new law swept its members into the definition of an 'employee' and 'employer' under the state's workers comp law," the article explained. "That would require the colony to buy workers comp insurance for members engaged in commercial activities."
The district court ruled that the law violated the Hutterites constitutional rights, so the department appealed. However, the Supreme Court reversed the decision. Four of the justices said that the law does not treat religious organizations differently than any other employer under the workers comp system - it just regulates their commercial business.
Justice James Nelson wrote the dissent, saying that the ruling violates the U.S. and Montana constitutions by allowing the state to interfere with a religious group's beliefs.
Finding comprehensive workers' compensation insurance
It's important for businesses across many industries to keep themselves protected from accidents and other unexpected events, including injuries to their workers. The coverage is necessary for employees' financial protection and to shield a company from legal liability.
Business owners who are unsure of the type of coverage necessary for their organization can partner with commercial insurance specialists to guarantee that the right policy is selected. Along with general business insurance, having a comprehensive workers' compensation plan is crucial in ensuring the longevity of a company.