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Archive | February, 2012

California Labor Commissioner Launches Criminal Investigation Unit

Posted on 28 February 2012 by admin

By Dept. of Industrial Relations

OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 27, 2012 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE, also known as the Labor Commissioner’s Office) today announces the creation of the Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) designed to investigate employers who perpetrate wage theft and other criminal activities against workers.
“We are very excited to announce the creation of this unit, which will be tasked with leveling the playing field for California employers by raising the stakes for those who underpay, underbid and under-report in violation of the law,” said California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “This is a vital tool in our efforts to step up enforcement to protect California workers and employers struggling to make an honest living.”
The CIU is made up entirely of sworn peace officers who have completed the police academy and report directly to the Labor Commissioner. CIU peace officers qualify quarterly to be permitted to carry firearms and meet yearly guidelines for additional training established by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. Their functions will include investigations and arrests for Labor Code violations, filing of criminal charges and serving subpoenas and inspection warrants.
“Employers who violate labor laws at the expense of their workers should know that we are now applying a new enforcement tool to address flagrant mistreatment of workers,” added DIR Director Christine Baker. “The new Criminal Investigation Unit will be tasked with supporting existing enforcement and moving cases that need greater attention to the next level of prosecution.”
Members of the unit are currently providing training to DLSE staff in district offices across the state to highlight laws covered by the CIU. This training will assist staff in identifying cases that can be referred to the unit for criminal investigation.
Cases handled by the Criminal Investigation Unit include workers’ compensation violations, theft of labor (which can be a felony or misdemeanor), payment of wages with bounced checks or other insufficient funds, unlicensed farm labor contractors and garment manufacturers, kickbacks on public works projects, violations involving minors on the job, and impeding of Labor Commissioner investigations.
“As a law enforcement agency, we will use all tools available to us to bring about compliance. The Labor Code’s criminal provisions acknowledge that wage theft is a threat not just to those most directly affected, but to public safety and the health of our economy,” added Su. “It is my job to enforce those provisions, and now we will do so.”
The DLSE protects employees’ rights in the workplace while preserving a level playing field for employers who comply with the Labor Code by adjudicating wage claims, investigating discrimination and public works complaints, and enforcing state labor law and Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders. To learn more about the functions of the California Labor Commissioner, visit
Employees who have work-related questions or complaints can call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.
CONTACT:Erika MonterrozaDean Fryer(510) 286-1161

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Hispanic Construction Workers Have Greater Risk of Dying

Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

Republished with permission from


According to a new study from the Center for Construction Research and Training, construction workers in the United States have a large risk of work-related injuries and an increased risk of work-related illness and death.

Researchers peered over data from several national sources and discovered that a construction worker has a 75 percent chance of suffering a disabling injury over a 45-year career, and a 1-in-200 risk of being fatally injured at work. (WCxKit)

Meantime, Hispanic construction workers have a 20 percent greater risk of dying from a work-related injury than whites.

The authors of the study also discovered that people who begin construction work at age 20 have a 15 percent chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease over their lifetime and an 11 percent chance of developing dust-related changes to the lung tissue.

“While great strides have been made in reducing construction injuries and illnesses, the numbers are still stubbornly high,” Pete Stafford, executive director of CPWR, commented in an APHA news release. (WCxKit)

“Workers and their families suffer the consequences of disabling injuries, and this research shows it’s far too common. So we must continue to raise awareness of the problems and hope to see our research findings put to use to reduce construction fatalities, injuries and illnesses,” Stafford added.

Nova Scotia Labor Department Charges Employer Following Death

Nova Scotia’s Labor Department has laid charges following an 18 month investigation into the death of a 12-year-old boy who was run over by a truck in Cape Breton.

According to information from the NSLD, Dylan LeBlanc of Cheticamp was killed while riding his bicycle near a local inn that was being renovated in August 2010. The boy was hit and run over by a boom truck. (WCxKit)

Labor Department spokesman Brian Taylor reports charges were laid recently against 5823 NWT Ltd., the company that owns Maison Fiset House, and project manager Darren MacPhee.

Taylor says the company has been charged with failing to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the health and safety of people at the workplace and failing to take adequate precautions to ensure pedestrian safety.

He says MacPhee is charged with failing to take reasonable precautions to ensure health and safety at or near the project.

Taylor says a third person who has not been named by officials is also charged, but that person has not been served notice yet. (WCxKit)

Those charged are to appear in provincial court in the spring in Port Hood, N.S


Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:

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DA visits local construction sites for workers’ comp check

Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

Three area contractors out of compliance

Tomoya Shimura, Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE • Carrying a badge and a gun on his belt, Steve Rivera walked into a trailer at the new Walmart Supercenter construction site.

The senior investigator for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office politely asked site supervisors to give him a list of their subcontractors, explaining he was making sure they are carrying workers’ compensation insurance.

Partnering with the California Contractor’s State License Board and other state agencies, the District Attorney’s office conducted surprise compliance checks Thursday with Victor Valley businesses involved in construction-type work at their job sites.

In response to some contractors failing to provide the insurance coverage, county authorities began cracking down on the fraud a few months ago.

According to the law, prosecutors can file criminal charges against any businesses owners who have employees but don’t get proper workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Rivera said the insurance protects both the employers and employees.

Looking a bit puzzled and nervous, the general contractor supervisors at the Walmart site left to contact their corporate office and get the list. Rivera waited patiently outside with other state agency officials until the supervisors came back with the list after about 30 minutes.

“Big guys” — like Walmart — “are usually in compliance,” Rivera said.

But workers’ compensation insurance inspections are so rare that one worker at the site said he had never seen one in his 20-year career.

Rivera and another team of investigators contacted a total of 22 businesses at 14 construction sites Thursday. All the businesses Rivera visited in the Victor Valley were in compliance, he said.

But the other team found three contractors not in compliance, and the state license board issued them stop-work orders.

Rivera said most contractors will try to comply within a week so they can resume work again. But if they don’t, Rivera said they could face criminal charges and a fine of $10,000 for each employee they have.

Tomoya Shimura may be reached at (760) 955-5368 or Follow Tomoya on Facebook at

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Shasta County man convicted of worker’s compensation fraud, grand theft

Posted on 16 February 2012 by admin

By Record Searchlight staff

A 52-year-old Shasta County man is facing more than four years in Shasta County jail after being convicted today by a jury of insurance fraud, worker’s compensation fraud and grand theft.

Tony Roey Stevenson is due to be sentenced on April 13 and faces a maximum sentence of four-years, four-months in jail, Deputy District Attorney Patricia Van Ert said.

Stevenson was employed as an auto detailer at Crown Motors in Redding when he claimed he slipped and injured his back in February 2007, she said.

Stevenson began collecting worker’s compensation benefits and returned to work on modified duty while being paid for wage loss, she said.

But, she said, it was later suspected he was committing fraud when his insurer learned he was racing go-carts at an indoor racetrack in Redding and was also videotaped detailing his own car and bending over in a manner that was inconsistent with the injuries he described to his treating physician.

Van Ert said Stevenson must pay $30,524 in restitution, including $8,907 is for the worker’s compensation benefits he received and another $21,617 to cover the cost of his insurer’s investigation.

© 2012 Record Searchlight. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Foxconn Working Conditions: iPad Plant Better Than The Norm, Says Fair Labor Association

Posted on 16 February 2012 by admin

By Terril Yue Jones

BEIJING (Reuters) – Working conditions at Chinese manufacturing plants where Apple Inc’s iPads and iPhones are made are far better than those at garment factories or other facilities elsewhere in the country, according to the head of a non-profit agency investigating the plants.

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) is beginning a study of the working conditions of Apple’s top eight suppliers in China, following reports of worker suicides, a plant explosion and slave-like conditions at one of those suppliers, Foxconn Technology Group.

Auret van Heerden, president of the FLA offered no immediate conclusions on the working conditions, but he noted that boredom and alienation could have contributed to the stress that led some workers to take their own lives.

In addition to Foxconn, FLA investigators will later visit facilities of Quanta Computer Inc, Pegatron Corp, Wintek Corp and other suppliers, who are notoriously tight-lipped about their operations.

After his first visits to Foxconn, van Heerden said, “The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm.”

He spent the past several days visiting Foxconn plants to prepare for the study.

“I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory,” he said. “So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. . It’s more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps.”

He noted that the organization has been dealing with suicides in Chinese factories since the 1990s.

“You have lot of young people, coming from rural areas, away from families for the first time,” he said. “They’re taken from a rural into an industrial lifestyle, often quite an intense one, and that’s quite a shock to these young workers.

“And we find that they often need some kind of emotional support, and they can’t get it,” he added. Factories initially didn’t realize those workers needed emotional support.”

Van Heerden dismissed the notion that his organization might paint a cursory and positive picture of Apple’s suppliers.

Companies that join the FLA abide by rigorous commitments, and their interests are balanced by non-governmental organizations and more than 200 universities that sit on the board of the organization with the corporations, he said.

FLA evolved from a group originally convened by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1996 with the goal of reducing sweatshop labor around the world. Its board includes executives from sneaker companies Nike and Adidas.

“Apple didn’t need to join the FLA,” he said. “The FLA system is very tough. It involves unannounced visits, complete access, public reporting.

“If Apple wanted to take the easy way out there were a whole host of options available to them,” he added. “The fact that they joined the FLA shows they were really serious about raising their game.”


Some 30 FLA staff members are visiting two Foxconn factories in Shenzhen in southern China and one in the central city of Chengdu. Each plant has about 100,000 workers, although not all work on Apple products.

Over three weeks, some 35,000 workers will be interviewed about 30 at a time to answer questions anonymously, entering their responses onto Apple iPads.

Questions will include:

* how the workers were hired

* if they were paid a fee

* if they were offered and signed contracts and whether they understood them

* the condition of their dorm rooms and food

* if complaints are acted upon

* their emotional well being

The data will be uploaded immediately and consolidated, and an interim report will be made public in early March.

The eventual FLA report will identify areas the suppliers need to improve and offer suggestions, van Heerden said.

“There might not be a clear policy on hiring, that could lead unwittingly to discrimination against hepatitis B sufferers,” he said as an example.

“There might not be adequate documentation that could lead to the risk that workers get hired with fake documentation, that underage workers come in . We can recommend very specific actions they can take.”

(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones and Venus Wu; Editing by Derek Caney)

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California lawmaker writes ‘Public Employees Bill of Rights’

Posted on 14 February 2012 by admin

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, has introduced legislation that would give unionized state workers more workplace discipline protections and first dibs on state government work.

SEIU Local 1000 and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists support AB 1655, the “Public Employees Bill of Rights Act.” Here’s what it would do:

• Gives unionized state employees priority over outside contractors and excluded state workers to fill permanent, overtime and on-call positions.
• Sets a one-year statute of limitations for employers to take an adverse action against a state employee. (The current law allows disciplinary actions up to three years after the discovery of fraud, embezzlement or records falsification.)
• Establishes a peer review committee to provide workplace operations input.
• Guarantees that the state won’t impose “unreasonable quotas” on employees.
• Bans extra work created by vacancies, furloughs of layoffs without “fair compensation.”
• Gives priority to workplace safety and health grievances.
• Explicitly bans workplace discrimination.
• Strengthens whistleblower protections.
• Requires employers exercise “preventive and corrective” actions before administering harsher employee discipline.
• Settles grievances in favor of the employee if the employer misses contractual deadlines for response.
• Defines protections and performance and merit evaluation processes for professionally licensed employees.
• Guarantees independent legal representation for professionally licensed workers named as codefendants in litigation against their employers.

According to a press release from Dickinson’s office, the measure extends to unionized workers the same kind of employee rights found in the Peace Officer Procedural Bill of Rights, the Firefighter’s Bill of Rights, and the Bill of Rights for “excluded” state employees.

The bill language won’t be online until Tuesday. Thanks to Taryn Kinney in Dickinson’s office for faxing the author’s copy, which The State Worker (with help from Capitol Alert colleague Torey Van Oot) has posted below.

Assembly Bill 1655

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Cocktail Hour Fundraiser for Arturo Chavez 2012 51st District State Assembly Seat

Posted on 14 February 2012 by admin


Thursday, February 16, 2012, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

714 W. Olympic Boulevard, Suite 450, Los Angeles, CA 90015


Please mail your contributions to:

Chavez for Assembly 2012, C/o David L. Gould Company

3700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1050-B, Los Angeles, CA 90010

This event is made possible by co-hosts: and Latino Comp

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California: New W.C.A.B. Commissioner Appointed by Governor

Posted on 14 February 2012 by admin

Posted by

Richard M. Jacobsmeyer

Governor Jerry Brown’s website today announced the appointment to the W.C.A.B. of , a widely respected applicant’s attorney from Northern California. Ms. Sweeney joins the W.C.A.B. as former Commissioner Joseph Miller departs at the end of his term earlier this month. The new appointment still leaves the W.C.A.B. short 2 members but is at least an optimistic sign that the Governor is aware of the need for appointments to the remaining open seats.

Ms. Sweeney has been an attorney since 1978 practicing in the Redding area for most of her career. She is best known for her work representing the applicant in Sandhagen v W.C.A.B., a case in which she convinced the California Supreme Court to limit employer’s ability to challenge requests for authorization to Utilization Review under Labor Code § 4610. She persevered in pursing that issue after an adverse W.C.A.B. en banc decision and an adverse Court of Appeals decision. Her skill and effort earned her the award as applicant attorney as Applicant Attorney of the year from the State Bar Workers’ Compensation Section in 2007.

Commissioners serve 6 year terms and require Senate approval. Sweeney can serve for up to a year waiting for Senate approval but will likely not have to wait that long. Her nomination is likely to be viewed favorable by both applicant and defense bars as she is widely respected and liked on both sides of the fence. While viewed as a passionate advocate on behalf of her clients, she has made her points through careful and thoughtful legal arguments presented in graceful yet firm manner, traits that should serve her well in her new position.

The Governor’s announcement reads as follows:

Marguerite Sweeney, 60, of Redding, has been appointed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Sweeney has been the principal attorney at the Law Office of Marguerite Sweeney since 1990. She was an attorney at Sweeney and Sweeney from 1982 to 1989 and an associate attorney at Baker Cornell and Baumbach from 1979 to 1982. In 2007, Sweeney received the Applicants Attorney of the Year award from the State Bar of California Workers’ Compensation Section. She is a member of the California Applicants Attorney Association and the Redding Chamber of Commerce. Sweeney earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $128,109. Sweeney is a Democrat.

On a personal note, I can say I have known and admired Marguerite for close to 30 years starting when we served together for several terms on the Northern California Board of Governors of CAAA in our formative years as young applicant attorneys. Most recently I spoke on a panel with Marguerite at Richard Montarbo’s Annual program in Sacramento (one of the best education experiences available). The amount of work she put into the program and the knowledge she demonstrated were amazing; undoubtedly foreshadowing the effort she will put in as commissioner. Marguerite was always perceived as an advocate who looked for balance and rationality to evaluating issues and in her approach to the law. She was always willing to engage in discussion, firm in her own position but respectful of other’s issues.

The one issue she could not be viewed as a moderate on was the passion with which she sought to protect the rights of her clients and obtain the best results for those she represented. I cannot imagine a better choice for the W.C.A.B. in terms of knowledge, integrity and passion for workers’ compensation. I do not expect her to agree with my clients, or me, on all issues, but we will all know we have been heard and our concerns considered. She is certainly a welcome addition to an already hardworking, knowledgeable, but shorthanded (hint, hint Gov) W.C.A.B.

© Copyright 2012 Richard M. Jacobsmeyer. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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Chiropractors and the Primary Care Debate Under New Health Care Legislation

Posted on 13 February 2012 by admin

Republished with permission from

Since the late 1960s, the chiropractic industry has been debating the definition of primary care and whether chiropractors can fulfill that definition. In the January and February 2012 issues of the industry’s publication, ACA News, the American Chiropractic Association reviews the history of its industry on this point.

The article notes, “In primary care, the physician is expected to treat end-organ dysfunction to a certain level before referring to a specialist and then to manage a chronic condition referred back from the specialist (once a treatment plan is agreed upon), and important to this model is the expectation of the physician to manage medications. Can our profession fulfill these expectations with what the health care industry and medical community consider to be truly primary care?”

The association says conservative primary care physicians can take the burden from traditional primary care physicians in spinal pain, sports injuries, common sprains/strains and headaches related to structural faults, and can encourage lifestyle changes for tobacco use and alcohol and drug abuse among other chronic diseases.

In making a case for a place for chiropractors in conservative primary care the ACA says they must do the following four things:

1. Strive to integrate into the nation’s health care system.

2. Participate in the emerging multi-physician primary care approach.

3. Continue educational growth.

4. Encourage colleges to allow students and doctors to have greater exposure to primary care patients in integrated settings.

The industry must address wellness and preventive medicine without prescriptive rights, according to the ACA. “It becomes clear that we currently treat patients with primary care issues that are not being fully addressed, and that we are naturally positioned to fill in the treatment gap,” writes the ACA news.

The article suggests chiropractors improve their results by thoroughly questioning the history of the present illness, past medical history, family history and social history. A ROS (Review of Systems) can help move into the diagnosis and treatment stage seamlessly.

It concludes, “Doctors of chiropractic are the physicians most poised to embrace this lifestyle treatment approach to address primary care problems. In other words, for many patients, resolution of chronic back pain may require a primary care approach, so why not embrace this tremendous opportunity?”

Note: Now that I have become a patient of a local chiropractor, who fixed my back strain, and now I can walk straight up instead of bent over (!), I watch chiropractic news more than in the past, and I absolutely swear by their care whereas in the past I discounted the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment. Not anymore. Two visits with my chiro and I was better, and I learned a lot about how to care for my back.

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:

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California Auto Repair Shop Failed To Have Workers’ Comp For Employees

Posted on 13 February 2012 by admin


Santa Cruz, CA ( – Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee announced that DA Inspectors issued citations to L&M Auto Repair business at 27 First Street in Watsonville on Thursday 2/9/12. The citations were for failing to have a proper license from the California State Bureau of Auto Repair and Failure to have required Workers Compensation Insurance coverage for employees.

The District Attorney Investigations Bureau conducts ongoing enforcement of businesses failing to have required Workers Compensation Insurance coverage on employees. Businesses who do not carry the insurance can undercut prices of the legitimate businesses because they have less overhead. Enforcement and compliance provides a level playing field for all businesses.

Workers Compensation Insurance is required by state law for businesses who have employees.

Proof of coverage must be posted at the place of business. Workers Compensation Insurance not only provides help to injured workers, it protects businesses from certain liability.


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