Ohio Company’s Refusal to Protect Employees Results in Court Action

April 4, 2012

An Ohio judge has ordered Gray Container, a 55-gallon drum manufacturer, to discontinue its operations for repeatedly refusing to maintain workers’ compensation coverage.

The injunction against Gray Container, requested by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), was filed to protect employees. This injunction is believed to be the first action of its kind by the BWC. The Attorney General’s Office represented BWC during this action.

“This case is ultimately about fairness—fairness to the employees who deserve protection in the case of workplace injury and fairness to the 250,000 other Ohio businesses who have to pick up the tab when a worker for an uninsured company is injured,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “In this instance, Gray Container ignored repeated efforts by our staff to find a workable solution, even as multiple claims were filed by its workers.”

Gray Container allowed its policy to lapse in September 2006 and despite repeated attempts by BWC to assist the company to maintain coverage, it failed to protect its employees. During that time, 22 claims, one of which was a death claim, were filed and Gray Container now owes almost $700,000. Ohio law ensures benefits for the injured workers even if the employer is without coverage. When an employer fails to pay premiums, other Ohio employers are forced to carry the burden.

The company’s owner already pled guilty in May to felony failure to comply with workers’ compensation laws. At a hearing in June of last year, Gray agreed to make a lump sum payment, make monthly payments, and continue to report payroll and pay premium in a timely manner. In all instances, Gray failed to meet any of these agreements.

Source: Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC)

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