There is one gigantic problem with scumbags. Well, there are two problems, but one of them is blatantly obvious. The fact that a person is a scumbag is indeed a problem that is usually easily recognized. The lesser recognized problem is that they are so darn consistent with their scumbaggery. In the world of workers' compensation, we see this most often with employers who fail to follow the law when it comes to required coverage for their workers.
They don't just fail to buy insurance. They lie about the status of their business. They conceal the number of employees they have, or the type of job they perform. But their corrupt behaviors don't stop there. They also are the ones most likely to fail to respect safety practices. They refuse to provide or use safety protection equipment. They completely disregard the value of human life.
And a tragic workplace death brought about by their own greed and ignorance won't stop them, as they frankly couldn't give a crap about anything other than their own selfish lives. Yes, the biggest problem with scumbags is that they are extremely consistent, living their life while ruining others with overtly fraudulent activities.
Our latest example of this comes out of Ohio, where an Akron contractor has just been sentenced to up to 5 years in prison for manslaughter. His employee, a 39-year-old married father of five, fell from a third story roof on the construction site and was killed. There was no workers' compensation insurance coverage in force for his family. He was provided no safety equipment. It was his second day on the job.
But this isn't the only fall for this errant contractor. Prior to this event he had two other employees seriously injured in falls. There was no workers' comp in force for them, either. I did say something about consistency, didn't I?
This story gets even worse, if you can believe it. After the deadly accident, this contractor lied to Ohio BWC, telling the state agency/insurer that he was no longer in business. Investigators found his crew working on a rooftop (sans safety equipment, of course) five months after the deadly fall. An audit found that he had paid almost $300,000 in payroll during a period where he had insisted he had no employees.
Thank God that scumbags can also be consistent in their stupidity.
The only real cure for consistently bad behavior in the world of workers' comp is for society to stop accepting it and offering true disincentives for its existence. Our scumbag du jour will have to spend up to five years in prison for a needless employee death (not enough, IMHO) but will do no jail time for the lack of coverage for his employees. For that portion of his evil acts he will only need to pay some substantive fines. If we are really serious about stopping employer fraud as it relates to workers' comp, we should put some teeth into the punishment that would better suit the crime.
Until that point, consistency won't just be the hobgoblin of little minds. It will continue to be the realm of the selfish and small-minded scumbag as well.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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