JOHN CONNELL, Employee/Appellant, v. STROM ENG’G CORP. and CHARTIS INS., Employer-Insurer/Cross-Appellants.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COURT OF APPEALS
JANUARY 4, 2012
JURISDICTION - OUT-OF-STATE EMPLOYMENT; STATUTES CONSTRUED - MINN. STAT. § 176.041, SUBD. 3. Where the employee was at his home in Oklahoma when he was offered a temporary job in Texas by telephone from an employer representative at the employer’s headquarters in Minnesota, and the employee was injured at the Texas jobsite, the compensation judge properly denied the employee’s claim for Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits on jurisdictional grounds.
Determined by: Wilson, J., Stofferahn, J., and Milun, C.J.
Compensation Judge: Paul V. Rieke
Attorneys: Thomas A. Atkinson, Atkinson Law Office, St. Paul, MN, for the Appellant. Nicole B. Surges, Erstad & Riemer, Minneapolis, MN, for the Cross-Appellants.
DEBRA A. WILSON, Judge
The employee appeals from the compensation judge’s finding that the employee was not hired in Minnesota as contemplated by Minn. Stat. § 176.041, subd. 3. The employer and insurer cross- appeal from the judge’s decision that the employee was temporarily employed outside of the state. We affirm.
Strom Engineering Corporation [employer] is a Minnesota corporation that provides temporary workers to businesses with short-term labor needs around the United States. The employer’s recruitment, payroll, and human services functions are run out of its corporate headquarters in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
John Connell [the employee] worked off and on for the employer beginning in September of 2005. Each job was temporary, lasting two months or less. In May of 2009, the employee was contacted by Cari Ahlstrom, recruiting manager for the employer, who called from Minnesota to the employee’s residence in Oklahoma. The employee was offered a temporary job to work as a bus driver in Sealy, Texas. During this conversation, Ms. Ahlstrom described the job duties, rate of pay, minimum hours per week, who the employee would report to, and where he would report. Ms. Ahlstrom made the job offer contingent upon the employee passing a drug test on his arrival at the Texas job site. The employee accepted the offer at that time, while on the phone at his home in Oklahoma.
The employee reported to BAE Systems in Sealy, Texas, on May 21, 2009. At that time, he signed a Project Assignment Agreement, agreed to a drug test, and completed a W-4 form. About two months later, on July 29, 2009, the employee sustained an admitted work-related injury in Texas. The injury was reported to the employee’s supervisor, and the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier paid the employee Texas workers’ compensation benefits. On October 5, 2010, the employee filed a claim petition in Minnesota, seeking Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits. The matter proceeded to hearing, and, in findings and order filed on July 25, 2011, the compensation judge determined that all three of the requirements in Minn. Stat. § 176.041, subd. 3, for Minnesota extra-territorial jurisdiction, had not been satisfied, and the employee’s claim was denied on that basis. Both parties appeal.
Minn. Stat. § 176.041, subd. 3, provides,
Temporary out-of-state employment. If an employee hired in this state by a Minnesota employer, receives an injury while temporarily employed outside of this state, such injury shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter.
The compensation judge found that the employee had not been hired in Minnesota. Rather, citing case law that applied contract theory in determining where a hire occurs, the judge concluded that the employee had been hired in Oklahoma, where the employee had been when he was offered and accepted the job.
The employee contends that this is a case of first impression and that this court must determine “whether the location of ‘hire’ is dictated by where the prospective employee is located or the location of the employer representative offering the job.” We are not persuaded.
A contract of employment is governed by the same rules applicable to other types of contracts, including those relating to offer and acceptance. Smith v. Employers’ Overload Co., 314 N.W.2d 220 (Minn. 1981) (citing Houle v. Stearns-Rogers Mfg. Co., 275 Minn. 345, 157 N.W.2d 362, 24 W.C.D. 485 (1968)). In Summers v. Northern Indus. Erectors, Inc., No. WC10-5092 (W.C.C.A. Sept. 15, 2010), this court observed that the “general rule is that a contract is deemed to be made at the place where the final assent is given.” It is uncontested in this case that the employee was in Oklahoma when he accepted the employer’s offer of employment. We would also point out that the employee was not, nor has he ever been, a Minnesota resident. The employee is an Oklahoma resident, and the injury occurred in Texas. His sole connection to Minnesota is that he was hired by a business that just happened to be headquartered here.
We find no sound reason to overturn or distinguish prior case law governing the situs of an employment contract. We therefore affirm the judge’s conclusion that the employee was not hired in Minnesota and his denial of the employee’s claim on that basis. Given our conclusion on this issue, we need not consider the employer and insurer’s arguments as to the judge’s finding that the employee was temporarily employed outside of Minnesota.
 The employee does not contend that he was hired anywhere other than in Minnesota.
 In Pierce v. Foley Bros., Inc., 283 Minn. 360, 168 N.W.2d 364 (1969), the supreme court concluded that an oral contract consummated over the telephone is deemed made where the words of acceptance are uttered. At oral argument, the employee focused on the Pierce case and argued that the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution would allow coverage in this case. This court lacks jurisdiction to determine constitutional questions. Irwin v. Surdyk’s Liquor, 598 N.W.2d 132, 59 W.C.D. 319 (Minn. 1999).