Two restaurant owners may be facing possible prison time for their role in trying to defraud the government and avoid protecting their employees. The California Labor Commissioner responded to an anonymous complaint concerning the lack of workers' compensation insurance for employees at the restaurant. By law, the owners must provide the protection for all of their employees or face heavy fines and penalties.
According to news reports, the anonymous tip led to a fine and a civil citation. The fine totaled $18,000. A follow-up visit shortly afterwards also led to a violation discovery, and the owners were unable to provide the needed documentation to prove the workers' compensation issues had been taken care of.
The owners then allegedly forged documents showing proof of insurance that they didn't have. The pair faces felony charges of forgery of an insurance policy for worker's compensation and other charges. They could be sentenced to a maximum of 16 years in prison if found guilty.
This California case highlights the need for workers in all fields to be sure they are protected. If injured or worse while on the job, the employee has the expectation that the employer will do what is right and cover the cost of his or her care. However, this case shows how some business owners may try and avoid living up to that responsibility. Workers' compensation is a serious issue and everyone should know their rights and what they may be entitled to when on the job. If employers do not have the proper insurance, the injured party may be able to seek damages in the form of monetary compensation.
Source: hola-arkansas.com, "California Labor Commissioner Investigation Results in Criminal Forgery, Fraud Charges against Restaurant Owners," Feb. 19, 2013