Calif. Authorities Give Comp Fraud a Clean Sweep

March 7, 2005

In a joint effort, investigators from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), overseen by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Workers’ Compensation Fraud Division are conducting a countywide enforcement sweep of businesses suspected of operating without workers’ compensation insurance. The sweep started Tuesday, March 1 and was expected to continue through Tuesday, March 8.

“DLSE exists to enforce minimum labor standards, including workers’ compensation which is needed to ensure employees are fully protected and working under lawful conditions,” said Donna Dell, labor commissioner and chief of DLSE. Dell added “It is also our goal to protect employers who comply with the law from those who attempt to gain competitive advantage at the expense of their workers by failing to comply with minimum labor standards. The sweep is one method used to enforce labor standards to protect both the employees and compliant employers.”

Thirty-four inspections have been performed in the first three days of the sweep. Investigators issued 22 Stop Orders/Penalty Assessments totaling $154,000 in assessments, as well as one Notice to Discontinue (NTD) for failure to obey a stop order.

Additionally, there were three cash pay citations with a total assessment of $21,000, one minimum wage citation assessed at $5,600 and one overtime wage citation assessed at $5,500. There were a total of 27 citations issued plus one Notice to Discontinue with the total assessments at $186,000.

“We are aggressively pursuing businesses throughout the entire County of Los Angeles who are operating without proof of workers’ compensation insurance for their employees,” stated Supervising Investigator Greg Frum of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. “Safeguarding the rights of the employees is the main focus of our sweeps.”

The DA’s office approached DLSE in early February to discuss the possibility of enforcement sweeps targeting employers in violation of workers’ comp requirements. DLSE agreed that enforcement sweeps were warranted and developed coordinated sweeps designed to ensure that all employers have workers’ compensation insurance policies. The Underground Economy Task Force of the Employment Development Department aided in the process by screening employers for DLSE and the DA’s office.

In California it is illegal to operate a business without workers’ comp insurance for employees. Failure to have insurance carries a mandatory minimum fine of $10,000.00 and a possible sentence of up to one year in county jail.

“Uninsured employers pose a financial drain on taxpayers and an unacceptable danger to employees,” added Frum. “Therefore, the District Attorney’s Office and DLSE remain committed in continuing their wide-range sweep of uninsured employers.”

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