WA State Landscaper Charged for No Workers Comp

Landscaper in Pierce County, WA Charged for Failing to Purchase Workers Comp

landscaperA landscaper in Pierce County, Washington has been charged by Labor & Industry (L&I) for failing to purchase workers comp insurance to cover his employees, when one of his employees was injured on the job.

Kenneth Ivan Winters, 49, faces one count of doing business without workers comp insurance, along with seven counts of making false reports to the Department of Labor & Industries, according to the filed complaint. Each charge carries five years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000.

Winters pleaded guilty to all eight of the workers comp charges in Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday, February 18th. His trial has been set for May 1st.

According to the charges, filed with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, an employee who worked for Winters’s business, Executive Lawn Care, between 2002 and 2012, was injured on the job in October 2012. The business’s workers comp coverage had been revoked eight months earlier, for failing to pay premiums. Despite his illegal lack of workers comp coverage for his business, Winters continued to employ all of his original workers full-time, until the accident in 2012.

Reportedly, Winters was on site at the time of the accident, and threatened the employee with retaliation against him and his family if the employee filed a workers comp claim.

As of January 7th, 2014, the injured worker’s claim has cost L&I more than $67,000 in medical expenses and lost wage payments.

Employer Retaliation against Workers’ Comp Claim

As an injured worker, you may fear that your employer may retaliate against you for filing and seeking compensation for a workers’ compensation claim. Employees also worry about cooperating in the investigation of and/or testifying in support of an injured co-worker.

Most commonly, people think of workers’ comp retaliation as retaliatory discharge or firing an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Improper retaliation can fall short of termination, such as discrimination or harassment, and may include the following:

  • demotion, negative reassignment, reclassification or transfer;
  • unwarranted disciplinary action and/or negative performance evaluations;
  • wage reductions, salary reductions or a reduction in the number of hours scheduled; or
  • an unreasonable increase or decrease in job duties or responsibilities.

Most states have some legal remedy for injured workers retaliation. The right to sue for workers comp retaliation varies from state to state, so it is a good idea to consult a SC work injury lawyer to protect your rights for workplace injury.

Possible remedies may be available through state agencies and/or in court actions. Even where legislative action has not protected such workers, many state courts have allowed hurt workers to file retaliatory discharge lawsuits if they are retaliated against for seeking compensation for workplace accidents.

Because South Carolina, like Washington, is an at-will state, employers may still legitimately terminate or discipline any employee, regardless of workers’ compensation status.  However, the employer’s reason for the negative action cannot be a pretext for workers’ compensation retaliation and the negative action may not violate any other employment law(s).

The Strom Law Firm Understands Worker’s Comp Legislation

The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.