It’s a felony under Illinois law not to have workers’ compensation insurance. A lot of employers try to be “smart” and look for ways around calling their employees actual employees. The most common “smart guy” thing to do is to call them independent contractors. They act as if they’ve come up with some genius way to get around the law. The truth is that even if you claim someone is a contractor, if they really aren’t, they still get work comp if they get hurt on the job.
I almost understand how small businesses make this mistake. You bring on one person and maybe don’t know if you have to call them an employee or not. But when big businesses do it, it’s shameful and in my opinion should be jailable.
This was shown recently in a claim of a maintenance worker against a housing complex. The owner has apartment complexes all over the country. This isn’t some small business who could say they didn’t know what they were doing. The called the maintenance worker an independent contractor and knew it was b.s.
How do you know he wasn’t a contractor? Let’s count the ways:
- He completed a job application.
- He was given a uniform to wear while he worked.
- He was assigned daily tasks by the property manager.
- He had set hours.
- He had to be on call during off hours to address emergency issues.
- They gave him instructions on what to do.
- He wasn’t allowed to hire help.
- He couldn’t decline a job.
- If his cell phone wasn’t working he was required to regularly report to the property manager’s office.
- He was paid an hourly wage and submitted daily time sheets.
- He was paid the same day other employees were, twice a month.
- They provided him tools for the jobs.
- They could fire him any time for any reason.
Does that sound like an employee or a contractor? Obviously he worked there. They had control over him. Yet when he got hurt performing an assigned task they said, “You don’t work here.”
It’s really gross and shows how little they value their employees and how much they worship money over morals. He won in the end, but had to jump through hoops of going to trial at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. His injury surely got worse and he suffered economically.
It was a very serious injury with over $130,000 in medical expenses and about 12 weeks off work. The employer even appealed the decision and lost there too. It’s likely a case of an employer that is too smart for their own good, which sadly caused a worker to suffer. I only wish the attorney in this case had gone after penalties and fees because asshole companies like this one need to be punished when they act this way.