CURIOUSLY DIFFICULT

Here's a fun game. Go to your state's website for unemployment benefits. Look for the link for "reporting unemployment insurance fraud". Then search for the link to report labor law violations by employers. Look all around the Department of Labor website.

I checked a handful of states (I'm relying on the readers to get all fifty cumulatively because, come on, I don't have that much spare time on my hands) and while the "report some lazy moocher stealin' your tax dollars" link or button was displayed prominently and required no effort to locate, the link to report labor law violations either didn't exist or required some digging to find.

Because, you know, the real problem with this country is that The Gub'mint is so damn liberal.

40 thoughts on “CURIOUSLY DIFFICULT”

  • I went to the Washington Dept. of Labor & Industries website (http://www.lni.wa.gov/) and found the link to report a workplace rights violation fairly quickly. It wasn't on the main page but took just a couple clicks.

  • Massachusetts is basically impossible to find on the dept of labor website but is somewhat easy to find with competent google-fu. Though to report a labor violation they require you to attach some sort of proof (time cards usually) whereas basically anyone can file a report to accuse someone of UI fraud, a link to which is impossible to miss on their webpage.

    I knew where to find the labor law link because I tried to report a violation where I work several weeks ago. The situation didn't affect me directly but I was so angry with it that I wanted to report it anyway. Much to my despair, I couldn't because I lacked the requisite "proof" to file a claim and the affected party refused to file for fear of retaliation.

  • There seems to be a federal level of lower standard to report fraud.
    Looking at the Oregon Dept for Unemployment, they at least bury it a bit in a hot link salad.
    Perhaps removing the "anonymous" tip-off clause would be a start. Usually it's a disgruntled ex who's dobbing the person in.

    Adding a tip-off trigger for investigation of bad employers would be another.

  • On a related note, my company is engaging in some really shady insurance practices ($2500/month for basic coverage, $4000/year deductible before insurance even kicks in, lifetime $100,000 limit, for example), and when the spouse got a new job with phenomenal benefits just as open enrollment for my company rolled around, I notified my company that I'd be cancelling my insurance and taking the spouse's. They informed me it was illegal for an employee to cancel insurance (seriously). I tried to report them to my state, and guess what? Even with advanced google-fu and several sympathetic co-workers working as my Scooby Gang, none of us could find a way.

  • Rhode Island has a rolling banner of a dozen or so notices, mostly job fair kind of stuff but two or three are on how to report insurance fraud. I spent several minutes looking around, but didn't find any place to report wage theft or other labor violations. That's deep blue Rhode Island . . .

  • I'll give Colorado credit where credit is due. Under the 'Contact Us' link, I found this contact information at the bottom of the page:

    "Unemployment Insurance Integrity

    Detects employer and claimant fraud, establishes and collect overpayments, conduct employer audits, collect delinquent tax reports and taxes due, and conduct quality reviews of benefit payments for the citizens and employers of Colorado to ensure compliance with unemployment laws and regulations."

  • NC has both Wage and Hour Complaints and free labor law posters in the Quick Links on the front page. Nothing about unemployment fraud.
    Frankly , I'm surprised. Pleased, but surprised.

  • Anonymouse:
    I'm guessing that Unemployment matters are all handled by the Unemployment office. All matters relating to being dicked by your employer are under the Bureau of Labor. So take a look there.

  • Anonymouse, do you have a high-deductible health plan (HSA qualified) and does your employer pay 100% of premiums? Did you attempt to join the spouse's insurance as soon as you could? (When you say you waited for open enrollment, was that a requirement of spouse's insurance or a personal decision?) How large is the company you work for? Is there a union involved?

    Sorry for the intrusive questions; I was an insurance lifer before I switched careers to social work. Don't answer here if you don't care to — but please do call the ombudsman's office. This could be a labor issue AND an insurance compliance issue.

  • @xynzee; I tried the Bureau of Labor; they told me to call the Insurance Commisioner, who said that wasn't their dept. and sent me somewhere else. I ended up threatening to hire a lawyer against my own company, and they "graciously" let me stop paying for their worthless insurance, with the caveat "Don't tell anyone we let you do this".

    Their first response was that I was free to go on as a dependent under the spouse's plan (which costs 1/3 the amount and actually covers things), but I must keep paying my own company's insurance premiums because it's illegal not to get coverage from your employer, if you can't believe such a bald-face lie. Then they bashed our President.

  • Anonymouse, if the employer is offering certain forms of healthcare through the ACA, there might be a good deal of truth in what they said — however incomplete, incorrect, and slanted against the President their explanation might have been. Please do talk to the ombudsman. As hateful and labyrinthine as the ACA can be for certain employers, passing that odiousness along to employees is punitive and possibly illegal.

  • I googled for about 5 minutes trying to find any way to report a labor law violation in Pennsylvania, and was not successful. The first five links I followed were to pages discussing the labor laws, but had no actual way to report violations.

  • CT Dept of Labor, http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/ , has links for Employer and Employee Labor violations on the front page and easy to find.

    OT:
    I thought the ACA outlawed lifetime caps on health insurance?
    Anonymouse's I would not listen to anything your HR dept is saying. If you are a domestic partner, DP, you can't be classified as a dependent on your DP health plan. Its very likely your DP health plan charges a special fee for DP who opt out of their own healthcare, you would be committing fraud, IMO, by claiming you are a dependent.

  • @ladiesbane: my company has 30-some employees, so we are exempt from the ACA. We have no HR "dept"; we have the owner and his lackey, the HR/whatever person. They're both right-wingers, and reality is anything they define it to be in that particular moment, but can change on their whim.

    @cat: my spouse's healthcare is set up in two categories: 1) employee, and 2) employee-plus-dependants, to include spouse (in my case, a heterosexual marriage), spouse-and-child/dren. So there's nothing illegal about it.

  • In Florida it's called re-employment assistance, as opposed to unemployment compensation. There are prominent links for reporting re-employment assistance fraud. Googling for a state office to report labor law violations leads to the US Department of Labor web site. There doesn't seem to be a comparable department in the state government. Given that it's legal to fire people for wearing colors that management doesn't like (and I had to guffaw at the follow-up story to this drama in which the law office in question claimed the fired employees were "bullying" a manager), it's not surprising that the state government gives not a piffle about the lowest-ranked members of the workforce.

  • I expected DC's website to be unhelpful. So perhaps this is confirmation bias, but DC's website was particularly unhelpful. Circular links, informational PDFs, and 'administrative and semi-judicial proceedings' for worker's comp. But nowhere, not even under the banner of "Occupational Safety and Health" can violations be reported.

    http://does.dc.gov/service/occupational-safety-and-health

    There are plenty of phone numbers, however – especially for "questions or concerns regarding DC government worksites, contact the Office of Risk Management at (202) 727-8600." #CYA

  • Similarly, when I tell people I work in detecting health care fraud I always get "so is there a lot of patients that get care and aren't paying for it?" to which I always reply "I don't know but I'll bet you real money that it's an infinitesimal fraction of the other side of the equation." At this point in the conversation I display a large grin showing teeth studded with diamonds and for effect, I raise my hands at chest level, fingers pointing up. My interlocutor slowly takes in how every finger is weighted down with a massive ring with more jewels. And then I'll say, "yeah, I recover money from hospitals, clinics, doctors, and other providers and we sometimes get a small amount back from the racketeers".

  • Surprisingly not that difficult in Michigan once you find the proper department. (Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, apparently.) The "report a violation" link

  • Okay, that comment was posted early by accident. Here's what it should have been:

    Surprisingly, it's actually not that bad in Michigan. The Labor-equivalent (Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, for some reason) takes one extra link than the Department of Human Services, but that's only because the "File A Complaint" link on the former lets you pick from stuff like ADA and workplace discrimination violations as well as non-payment of wages. Plus, both department websites have the relevant link in the same area and in the same format (plain text).

  • New Mexico's Dept of Workforce Solutions has several headings on its website. One is Labor Relations where it says the Dept will assist employees seeking to claim unpaid wages. Good. There's also a heading for claims of workplace discrimination.

  • @ladiesbane; sorry I missed this in the responses. To clarify; my spouse started a new job just as Open Enrollment was going on with my company. It was a happy coincidence. His insurance was so very, very, VERY much better (meaning that it's actual insurance, not just paying huge chunks of money for no service whatsoever) that he signed us up under his insurance plan, and I notified my company that I was not re-enrolling in their terrible plan because I was moving to the spouse's plan. That's when the HR thing at my company informed me it was illegal to quit an employer-sponsored plan, so I could be part of my spouse's plan if I wanted to, but I would still have $2500/month deducted from my pay for the company plan. I countered that THAT wasn't what my lawyer said and offered to bring the lawyer in for a meeting with my company (spoiler: there was no lawyer). My company backed down, but they insisted it was all President Obama's fault.

  • OMFG
    The State of Nebraska, as red as you can get, has on the department of labor website, a link that takes you right to how to report unpaid wages.
    They also have a link on the unemployment page on how to report fraud.
    I think it's because no matter how "red" Nebraska is, it is still full of people who believe in "fair" and are "small c" conservatives. Having grown up in Nebraska and moved elsewhere, I have noticed that people there are often more interested in getting stuff done than blaming and yelling at each other. Of course, they keep electing football coaches and slugs to Congress, but whatever.

  • Federal employment law requires employers to publicly post LNI information at the worksite. Those posters detail your rights as an employee and will always contain information about how to contact your state's LNI department.

    Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by bad web design.

  • I'm old enough to remember when you didn't have to report labor law violations. They came looking for the violations. But the no-regulation, anything goes economy took care of that.

    Example. I worked for a small newspaper. The way newspapers worked back then is that they were very loosey-goosey. However, the company didn't screw us. We had comp time. That meant that during town meeting season, you might have to work extra hours. The company would give you those back in the summer, when things were slow, and you could have an extra week of summer vacation. Nobody complained — except the labor department.

    In one really F-ed up case, they went after the company for not paying overtime to employees who were in the building, but off the clock. A good example of that is one day I was going to play racquetball with a fellow employee after work. I had finished my work. So I grabbed a coffee and my book and sat at my desk, reading a novel and drinking coffee until he was ready to go.

    The Labor Dept. said that I should have been paid overtime — even though I told them that I was not working, I was there of my own volition, and I didn't think the company owed my anything for reading and drinking coffee while I waited for my friend. The Labor Dept. disagreed. The boss asked if he should just throw me out and make me wait outside in the snow. They said yes. They fined the newspaper an obscene amount of money.

    Today, many companies have found ways to make people work off the clock by some HR sleight of hand and not be penalized for it.

  • MN has an online UI fraud reporting system, and it's the first thing that pops up on google.

    For Labor law, you need to call the offices of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry up in the cities, or e-mail them if you have questions.

  • I used to work in the "Money Laundering" section of a DA's office. Soul crushing work. My boss, the Executive ADA mostly prosecuted illegal gambling rings. No biggie. Some tax fraud, no biggie. My and another guys area was prosecuting unemployment fraud cases. A 50 year old guy who was laid off and still collecting after finding 2 jobs. A guy barely getting by. I just couldn't do it anymore. I could help prosecute the mobbed up assholes doing illegal gambling and untaxed cigarettes. But not the little guy.

  • I more or less agree with Leo T. re: Michigan's website links. I found it easier, in the past, to find the UI fraud reporting link, but mostly because one of the few things I have ever gone to mi.gov to do is apply for unemployment. It didn't take much time at all to find the wage, overtime, workplace safety, and various discrimination complaint forms, all of which can be printed out and filled out by hand, or done online (just like more or less everything in MI now). It made me feel slightly better about my state.

    Then I remembered they just passed a "rape insurance" law.

  • Anonymouse, I am glad you got out from under them, but I hope you report them, and that they *fry*. One of the most common Shady Employer practices when I lived in NM was making workers pay for 100% of premiums when employers are required by law to pay at least 50%. Plans that require a percentage of participation exempt workers covered by spouses, so that was a straight-up lie. I wonder how many of your coworkers are still yoked to that plan, and why? Who is served by it? It's not as if you're paying premiums to them personally, unless they are stealing from workers outright. If a key worker has health problems, or would pay more personally for marketplace insurance, or has a relative acting as their insurance agent, they would profit. And they could potentially face jail time.

  • @ladiesbane; I spent a considerable amount of time making phone calls to various state agencies who all claimed they were not the ones to talk to. My co-workers pitched in and googled trying to find a place to report my company (my co-workers all work for different companies), and they were not successful. Here's my gut feeling; not only are the employees covering 100% of the premiums (without a cent of employer kick-in), but also the owner of my company & the HR lackey are getting kickbacks from the insurance company for using this particular crappy plan. Since I was depriving the company of my dollars, they panicked and tried to threaten me into continuing to pay for coverage I didn't need. If you want, we can continue this discussion off-blog…I have many, many examples of shady practices.

  • anothergrumpygradstudent says:

    Iowa isn't too bad. http://www.iowaworkforce.org is the main page from which you can get to the UI page, where the fourth item down on the left is "Report Claimant Fraud," and the fifth, "Report Employer Fraud." Wage fraud stuff is a little more complicated, but as long as you can intuit that the "Labor Services Division" is where you should go, you're golden. And with every visit, they automatically sign you up to receive a year's supply of popping corn, so, it's not all bad!*

    *this is not actually true.

  • Anon, I am at Gmail. If you feel like it, send me the jurisdiction (state) and if possible, the employer name. If I can dig up the key info, you can use it or shelve it as you wish. Worker exploitation burns me up, but using insurance as a lever messes with people's health and finances. It's completely unacceptable.

  • I'm chiming in because I checked Vermont's page, thinking that if any state is going to make it easy to report employer fraud it's going to be Vermont. The state includes all cases on labor-related fraud, employee or employer, on the same page http://labor.vermont.gov/fraud/

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