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An Underground Economy Hurts Us All

by admin on 26th-May-2017

Shiane D. Jacocks

It is vital to ensure that employees who experience a sudden change or injury on the job are protected by worker’s compensation. 

On May 17, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office issued a reminder that all California employers must provide workers' compensation insurance for their employees. 

“Those employers who break the law to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors are also putting their employees at risk," District Attorney Mike Ramos said. "Our office will continue to ensure that all workers are protected and that the playing field is level for law-abiding business owners who wish to conduct business in San Bernardino County.” Ramos added that when contractors violate the law and feed the underground economy, everybody suffers. 

An underground economy includes activities where businesses fail to comply with business and consumer licensing requirements and fail to pay or under-pay payroll and income taxes. It also includes employers who engage in unfair labor practices such as wage theft, paying under the table and/or denying insurance benefits. 

Many employers in this underground economy fail to acquire workers' compensation insurance, or make fraudulent misrepresentations to insurers to gain a competitive advantage over competitors in compliance with all requirements. 

In December 2015, investigators discovered multiple violations at a job site on the 6600 block of Pinion Court involving 37-year-old Joseph Blanco of Corona, owner of DBA Rescue Green.

Blanco was placed on 24 months of summary probation, and must maintain workers' compensation insurance, pay a $1,000 fine, and serve 10 days in the county jail’s weekend/work release program. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Scott Byrd in the Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit. 

Investigators from the District Attorney's Workers' Compensation Insurance Fraud Unit, California Contractors State License Board, Department of Industrial Relations Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and the California Employment Development Department continue to work together to shut down the county’s underground economy. 

This fiscal year, monthly sweeps conducted by the District Attorney’s office in partnership with these local agencies have yielded more than 59 investigations and resulted in 17 cases filed in Superior Court with criminal charges pending. 

For more information, visit daworkerscomp@sbcda.org or call (909) 891-3523.

Category: In The News.
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