Five Things You Need to Know: Thursday, 1/12 Edition

                               
Texas Employer Sued for No Overtime Pay
    • The Global Edge Consultants, LLC out of Galveston, TX is being sued by three employees out of Brazoria County. The trio alleges the company violated workers' compensation acts in not paying overtime wages, according to Philip Gonzales of the SE TexasRecord. Philip writes, "Sean Bates, Charles Gary Jones and Mike Kahl filed a lawsuit Dec. 12 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas against The Global Edge Consultants LLC, alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act." The trio worked as safety representatives/specialists regularly more than 40 hours per week, according to the complaint.
West Virginia Files Complaint Against Virginia Employer
    • The State of West Virginia (West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner, Charleston) filed a complaint against J P Rice Inc. and Jonathan R. Price. The complaint alleges that the employers failed to maintain its workers' compensation coverage, according to Philip Gonzales of the West VirginiaRecord. According to the complaint, "The state of West Virginia seeks trial by jury, a maximum fine of $10,000, an order enjoining the defendants from doing business in West Virginia until all fines and penalties are satisfied and the defendants to obtain workers' compensation coverage for themselves, litigation costs and expenses."
Fat Cats and Construction Workers in Connecticut
    • Middletown, a small city in Connecticut, is seeing some big action. Five iron workers march with signs near a fire in an oil drum, and a few feet away is an... inflatable cat. In particular, a large fat cat with a diamond on its pinky on one hand; the other squeezing what we are led to believe is a construction worker. According to Kathleen Schlasser and Cassandra Day of The MiddleTown Press, "Steelworx LLC, a Fedex subcontractor, was issued a $30,300 civil penalty after the state’s labor department issued a stop-work order at the local site because the Florida-based company failed to produce proof of state Workers' Compensation insurance to labor officials.The penalty came as the weeks-long picket continues by unemployed residents who belong to Ironworkers Local 15." The workers picket outside a FedEx site, which used to be Aetna (insurance) about seven years ago. "The workers are demonstrating against the hiring practices of Bluescope Construction, which hired Steelworx, in a process that excluded local union workers and hurt state taxpayers," according to a union official quoted in the article. 
AIA Vice President Addresses Committee in Washington, D.C.
    • Steve Schneider, Midwest region Vice President for the American Insurance Association (AIA), addressed the Illinois House Labor and Commerce Committee regarding House Amendment 4 to SB 2901 on Jan. 9. The following is a summary of the statement he issued thereafter, featured in a PRWeb release posted on Benzinga.com. According to the release, "If enacted, SB 2901 and Amendment 4 would throw out 35 years of successful workers' compensation insurance regulation and impose government price controls on workers' compensation insurers. It would require insurers to submit rates to the Department of Insurance, and then wait up to thirty days before using them. This removes considerable flexibility for both insurers and their customers, Illinois businesses." Schneider stated that the bill would hide: "...an employer's experience modification rating for ‘repetitive or cumulative trauma' claims filed by workers during their first 90 days of employment." He also said it wouldn't be the correct approach to workers' compensation reform in the state and insurers are willing to work with policymakers on improving the system so that insured workers get the right kind of care. 
Pipe-Fitting and Tree-Climbing in Mississippi
    • Picture this: An employee is on a break. Said employee climbs a tree, falls out and gets hurt. Are they in their scope of employment? It was left to the Workers Compensation Commission to decide in the winter of 2016. Reporter Christina Lumbreras of Risk & Insurance sets the scene in a Jan. 9 article, for readers to review and decide. A pipe fitter for Fabricated Pipe, a Louisiana/Mississppi-based company, was taking a break from cleaning up the work yard with his coworkers. The coworkers threw clumps of dirt at him, and some of them started to climb a tree. The pipe fitter followed suit, up to 25 feet high. The tree snapped, and he fell 25 feet to the ground. Citing a spinal cord and multiple rib injuries, he filed for workers' compensation benefits. According to the article, "The administrative judge found that he suffered a compensable injury." But the Workers' Compensation Commission found these injuries were not obtained during the normal scope of employment. "In Haney v. Fabricated Pipe, Inc., (11/08/16), the Mississippi Court of Appeals held that the pipe fitter’s injury was not within the course and scope of his employment," reporter Lumbreras writes. The court also came to the conclusions that 25 feet in the air isn't "present and ready" to commence in work-related activities and that falling out of a tree wasn't a risk in pipe-fitting.
 

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