September 19, 1996
Lack of Worker's Compensation Coverage Costs Employer in Court
An $89,329 judgment has been obtained against an employer who did not provide worker's compensation coverage for his workers, announced Gregory Krohm, administrator of Wisconsin Worker's Compensation Division.
The judgment was obtained against Yellow Checker Cab, of Superior, and its owner, Larry A. Ritchie, of Duluth, Minnesota. The penalty was assessed with the assistance of the Wis. Department of Justice. The default judgment was entered in Douglas Circuit Court by Judge Michael T. Lucci.
The taxi company had been without worker's compensation insurance for six years, from May 1990 through May 1996. The Worker's Compensation Division made many efforts to persuade Ritchie and his company to voluntarily obtain the required coverage. That coverage was obtained only after the state filed a motion to close his business.
The penalty for uninsured employers is severe. They must pay a fine totaling twice the insurance premium the employer normally would have paid. Uninsured employers are also liable for a fine of $10 a day. The fine money goes into a state fund for the benefit of workers whose employers are not covered by worker's compensation insurance.
Employers must carry worker's compensation insurance if they employ three or more workers or if they pay $500 or more in total wages in any three months to one or more worker.
Ritchie has had previous problems with the state's worker protection laws. On July 13, 1992, Ritchie was assessed $22,287 for unpaid wages and forfeitures for violating the state's labor standards regulations.
Information on employer worker's comp requirements may be obtained from the WC Division's Bureau of Insurance Programs, 201 E. Washington Ave., Room 161, Madison, WI 53707. Telephone 608/266-1340. Worker's Compensation is a division of the Wis. Department of Workforce Development.