Since the workmen's compensation statute was designed to provide benefits for an employee's work-connected injury or death, it necessarily follows that there must have been an employment relationship within the coverage of the statute and that the person or persons claiming the benefits must be within the class entitled to do so. The application of this basic premise, which on its face appears simple enough, was involved in three cases before the Tennessee Supreme Court during the survey period.
Bowling v. Whitley was a workmen's compensation suit brought by an employee against his immediate employer, a subcontractor, as well as against the general contractor and the general contractor's foreman. The employee had been engaged at the time of his injury in work which his immediate employer had contracted to perform for the general contractor, but the subcontractor employed less than five employees and therefore was not an employer covered by the statute.
J. Gilmer Bowman, Jr.,
Workmen's Compensation -- 1961 Tennessee Survey (II),
15 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vlr/vol15/iss3/22