|We've got NEWS|
|Thursday, July 22, 1999 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
DWD News Office
MADISON--The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today announced that it has completed its labor law and workers compensation investigations and has recommended penalties against YES LLC, the magazine subscription sales company linked to the March 25 van crash that killed seven people and injured five others.
The department has cited the company for a total of 92 labor law violations and has ordered YES to pay $29,051 in fines for operating in Wisconsin without Workers Compensation insurance. In addition, $184,600 is being sought to cover claims that have been filed to date with the Uninsured Employers Fund.
"In the wake of this tragedy our agency has determined that YES violated Wisconsins labor laws and was not insured as required by law," said DWD Secretary Linda Stewart. "Unfortunately, these young adults were clearly exploited and now the company must pay for their violations."
The department reported that YES LLC violated Wisconsins Workers Compensation law by employing up to 38 people in the state without the required workers compensation insurance. By statute, the penalty for operating without coverage is twice the cost of the premium that would have been paid for insurance during the uninsured time period. DWD has notified YES LLC that the $29,051 penalty is due within 30 days.
Claims relating to the van accident are being paid from the Wisconsin Uninsured Employers Fund. DWD is seeking $184,600 from YES, which is the estimated cost for settling all workers compensation claims that have been filed with the Fund. Additional claims may be filed, which would mean that the state would increase the amount it seeks to collect from YES.
The fund pays workers compensation benefits to employees who are injured while working for illegally uninsured employers. The fund is maintained through penalties assessed against employers for illegally operating without workers compensation insurance in Wisconsin. An uninsured employer is personally liable for benefits that are paid by the Fund on their behalf and must settle all outstanding claims.
"It is important to recognize that most Wisconsin employers are very conscientious about observing the insurance requirements of the Workers Compensation Act. Only a small percent try to beat the system," Stewart stressed.
In a separate investigation of labor law issues, DWDs Equal Rights Division completed their investigation and documented a total of 92 violations against YES LLC. DWD has reported 49 law violations relating to the employment of minors in street trades, 14 violations of the minimum wage law, 14 violations of the wage payment law, and 15 violations of the administrative code requirements for record keeping. If taken to court, statutory forfeitures may be assessed at over $40,000 for the law violations.
In addition, a report from the Equal Rights Division documented $8,627 in minimum wage and penalty wage payments that the company owes to 15 employees.
Secretary Linda Stewart has asked Attorney General James Doyle to include the violations in any lawsuit that the Department of Justice may issue against YES LLC, and to recover the assessed penalties and reimbursement of payments from the Uninsured Employers Fund.