Tag Archives: wage theft

Wage Theft Claim Results in Fines for Evasion of Workers’ Comp Insurance

Employer who tried to skip out on paying workers’ comp must repay L&I nearly $12K 

The co-owner of a Mill Creek, WA housecleaning business has been ordered to pay the state more than $11,700 for trying to evade workers’ comp insurance bills.

Blake Joseph Standley, of Bothell, pleaded guilty last Thursday to third-degree theft and attempted false reporting, both gross misdemeanor offenses.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent sentenced Standley to 364 days in jail, but suspended all but 15 days, which were converted to community service.  Standley will face additional penalties if he commits a new crime or fails to follow restitution requirements in the next two years.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case based on an investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Charges are still pending against Monica Ann Covey-Standley, who was married to Blake at the time of the incidents, and ran their company’s daily operations. 

Paper trail, worker interviews

Standley filed reports to L&I in 2013 and 2014, claiming he had no employees in his housecleaning business, known as Kogaty Interiors.

However, an L&I investigation uncovered bank records showing the company was paying employees to clean houses during that time. Employees told investigators they worked for the company, and provided wage and tax statements, along with time sheets as proof.

According to charging papers, the couple should have paid nearly $12,000 in workers’ comp premiums.

Theft of wages

The theft charge stems from Standley’s failure to pay an employee for about two weeks’ worth of work cleaning houses in 2014. The worker told investigators that the couple ignored her emails and messages, and hung up whenever she called.

She filed a wage complaint to L&I, which determined the Standleys owed her about $1,000. Last week, Blake Standley paid the worker half of the wages, $515. Prosecutors will seek the remainder from Covey-Standley, who is scheduled to be tried on June 9.

Workers’ comp fraud raises costs

L&I administers the state workers’ comp system that provides medical and other services to help workers who are injured on the job heal and return to work. Employers and employees fund the system, and if some don’t pay, that raises rates for everyone else.

Report workers’ comp fraud at www.Lni.wa.gov/Fraud or call 1-888-811-5974.

 

Photo credit: janwillemsen via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA 

 

Ladies of Charity

Kim Bobo

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

Mary Domer heads the local chapter of the Ladies of Charity and just chaired the national conference held in Milwaukee.  She recruited Kim Bobo, Director of Interfaith Workers Justice and author of Wage Theft in America to speak to the assembly. Kim’s presentation reminded us of the disparities of wealth in America and how that wage gap is increasing, in some measure because of wage theft.  Among the gems garnered from Kim’s presentation

  • If your employer tells you you are an independent contractor, you’re probably not.
  • Methods of “contingency employment” are on the increase including ever increasing temporary workers, seasonal workers and permanent “part time” workers.
  • Three-quarters of low wage workers don’t get overtime.  These include folks who can’t do all the work needed in 40 hours, but who would be fired if they didn’t perform all the work needed, daycare workers who have to stay off the clock and wait for parents to arrive, and “off the clock” work done in set up and clean up.  The most egregious examples were McDonalds workers told by their managers to clock out and sit and wait in the car until they were needed when more customers arrived.

Kim noted that many “tip” workers do not receive any of the tips, reminding us to either ask the question about whether the worker would receive a tip paid for by credit card or alternatively to simply pay in cash.  She noted an average of $2,600 lost average per year for low wage workers including janitors, drivers, landscapers, care workers.

Despite these negative trends, Kim suggested five ways in which we can all support low wage workers.

  1. Support campaigns to increase the minimum wage.
  2. Help with legislation and ordinances on paid sick days (40 million low wage workers have no paid sick days).
  3. Push Wal-Mart, McDonalds and other employers to increase their wages.  (She noted Wal-Mart does pay well in Europe so they have the capability when they are forced to do so.  Astoundingly, she noted six members of the Walton family possess a significant portion of the wealth in America.)
  4. Support legislation to provide a clear paystub to all employees.  (Many are being paid by debit cards where they have to actually pay money to their employers to get paid.)
  5. Honor employers who pay well through “a living wage certification program” in each of our communities.

 Through these methods and many more, we can all be men and Ladies of Charity.

 

Wage Theft Is Illegal And Immoral

Kim Bobo

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Wage theft is an issue we encounter all too frequently in our cases, particularly in situations with undocumented workers or others who may be paid “under the table.” They often have their wages under-reported to the Department of Labor and Industries, decreasing their compensation rate under the claim. It can be very difficult to prove the correct wage rate if insufficient documentation of payments exists.

Kim Bobo, the Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice and the author of “Wage Theft in America,” recently spoke at Duke Divinity School and then at N.C. Central University School of Law in Durham, N.C. Ms. Bobo, who was awarded the Pacem in Terris Peace Award in 2012 (other recipients are John F. Kennedy, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr.), has a simple reason for the work she does: as a person of faith, she recognizes injustice and seeks to correct it. Wage theft, which is defined as stealing from workers what they have rightfully earned, is not only illegal it is immoral. She is simply trying to get people to do something about it.

In September a $4 million settlement was announced by the Harvard Club of Boston for not paying tips to its staff.

At N.C Central law school, Bobo spoke to students about waiters not getting tips, even though the restaurant collected those tips when the bill was paid, and asked if anyone in the room had experienced that type of theft. Indeed, one student shared a story about working at an exclusive club in South Carolina where that practice was routine. After reporting the problem and getting nowhere, he finally gave up and quit. He is still bitter about it. In September, a $4 million settlement was announced by the Harvard Club of Boston for not paying tips to its staff. Small amounts can add up for the employer.

Bobo gave some action items to the audience that I wanted to share with you.  She said we need to:

  • start recognizing the seriousness of the problem;
  • start getting attention about the problem in order to fix it;
  • stay focused; and
  • if necessary, cross of the lines of our comfort zone.

For more information about Interfaith Worker Justice, go to: www.iwj.org/