Tag Archives: employer fraud

Roofing Company Owner Faces Felony Charge for Not Paying Workers’ Comp

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case, from Causey Law Firm.

A Mason County, WA roofing contractor faces a criminal charge for allegedly failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance for his employees while they were on the job.

The Washington State Attorney General’s office has charged Peter Daniel Yeaman, 55, with unregistered contracting and doing business when his workers’ comp coverage was revoked.

The latter charge is a felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Yeaman is scheduled for arraignment in Kitsap County Superior Court today, July 23.

The case resulted from a Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation into Yeaman and his company, Southgate Roofing, of Belfair.

 

Unfair business advantage

“When contractors skip out on workers’ comp, it’s illegal and it’s incredibly unfair to legitimate contractors who pay their fair share and get underbid by these lawbreakers,” said Annette Taylor, deputy assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards. 

“Workers’ comp premiums for roofers are among the highest in building construction and the trades, based largely on the safety risks those workers face.”

State law requires employers to provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. The coverage provides medical care and other financial support if employees are injured on the job.

Construction contractors also must register with L&I. The department confirms they have liability insurance and a bond and that, if they employ workers, they’ve paid their workers’ comp premiums.

 

At least six roofing employees

L&I suspended Southgate Roofing’s contractor registration in November 2012 for failing to pay workers’ comp premiums, and later officially revoked the company’s workers’ comp coverage.

Nonetheless, according to the charges, L&I found two consumers in Silverdale who had work done by the company in May 2014 and in August 2014.

During the August job, six workers told an L&I inspector they worked for Southgate Roofing. Yeaman himself told the inspector he needed to pay a bill before he could register as a contractor, charging papers said.

 

Eight previous infractions

In addition, the charges say that between October 2013 and September 2014, the company bought roofing materials numerous times from a Bremerton supplier and made numerous trips to a Bremerton disposal site.

Apart from the criminal charges, L&I has cited Yeaman with six unregistered contracting and two permit-related infractions since 2013, and several safety violations in 2013. L&I currently lists him as ineligible to bid or work on public works projects. He owes the department more than $28,000 for the unpaid fines and more than $131,000 for unpaid workers’ comp premiums, penalties and interest.

Photo credit: davidwilson1949 / Foter / CC BY 

How Employer Fraud Is Destroying Our Middle Class

Last September I invited Dan Reilly from the Teamsters to give a continuing legal education talk at the annual conference of the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group. Dan presented on the topic of employer fraud, and in particular on an increasingly common practice known as misclassification. The video above is just a short clip from an interview we did after his talk. I’ll continue to share more clips from our fascinating conversation on this blog from time to time.

These workers have no benefits, and none of the protections that they should legally have. They simply do not have a safety net.

The term misclassification sounds innocent enough, but in reality it is a growing practice of exploitation that is taking away the rights of working people all across the United States.

Companies like FedEx “misclassify” workers who do the same jobs that full-time employees do by calling them independent contractors. This practice saves companies significant amounts of employee-related costs such as health care, workers’ compensation, unemployment taxes and other benefits.

What misclassification means for these independent contractors is up to 25% less salary than Continue reading

Cost Shifting: The Dirty (not so little) Secret of Workers' Comp

Today’s post comes to us from my colleague Tom Domer of Wisconsin. This is isn’t the first post that has appeared on this blog on unethical and illegal employer practices. In the future, we will continue to cover issues like cost shifting and worker misclassification, which pose ever increasing problems for today’s workers. 

Seasoned workers’ compensation practitioners know some employers and worker’s comp carriers consciously employ questionable tactics to limit their exposure. They mischaracterize high risk employee job titles as low risk to reduce premiums; they call long-term employees “Independent Contractors” to get them off worker’s compensation roles; they hire doctors to render boilerplate predictable opinions to deny claims; and they discourage genuine worker’s comp claims by telling employees to submit work-related medical bills to group insurers, Medicare or Medicaid.

They discourage genuine workers’ comp claims by telling employees to submit work-related medical bills to group insurers, Medicare or Medicaid.

This last piece of fraud is extremely nefarious, especially since medical costs now exceed indemnity payments in Wisconsin and most other states. The cost shifting means we all pay (as increased group health premiums and taxes) for medical expenses that should be paid by worker’s comp carriers. In states such as Wisconsin where work injury related treatment expenses are paid at doctors’ usual and customary rates, shifting the cost to a group carrier, Medicare or Medicaid saves worker’s comp carriers millions.

The cost shifting means we all pay (as increased group health premiums and taxes) for medical expenses that should be paid by workers’ comp carriers.

Denial of a claim by using “legitimate doubt” or purchasing the opinion of an adverse medical examiner results in medical treatment provided at reduced negotiated rates through non-workers’ comp coverage (Union health care, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.). Continue reading

14 Signs That Your Employer May Be Committing Workers' Compensation Fraud

Is your employer committing fraud?

All employees should be on the lookout for signs that their employer or potential employer is engaging in workers’ compensation fraud.

The list of signs below was inspired by this one from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

These signs may indicate that your employer is not paying workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. If they aren’t, this could put you in a very difficult situation if you are ever injured on the job.

If any of these signs sound familiar, report the employer to the Fraud Investigations Department of the North Carolina Industrial Commission and, if at all possible, find another job.

Your employer may be engaged in workers’ compensation fraud if:

  1. They pay you in cash and don’t give you any kind of payroll stub.
  2. They give you a 1099 form instead of the standard W-2.
  3. They pay you other than in cash or check, by such things as free rent, reimbursement of expenses, barter, etc.
  4. They pay you on a piecework basis and do not record hours.
  5. They require you to work long hours but turn in fewer hours than you actually worked.
  6. You or somebody you know is injured on the job, and the employer promises to pay the medical bills rather than reporting the accident to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
  7. The reported hours on an injured worker’s accident report do not match the hours the employer reported to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.  Continue reading