Workers’ compensation is an important protection for workers who are injured while on the job. These benefits can help families avoid devastating financial consequences that can follow a serious work-related injury, and can give workers the ability to focus on getting better and getting back to work, which is a goal shared by both employees and employers. However, there are many cases in which California workers take steps to defraud both their employer and the system. Employee fraud is a serious issue, and one that drives up costs for everyone, including the rest of the company’s workforce.
An example is found in a recent case involving a professional dancer. The 29-year-old California man works on commercials and as a back-up dancer for live performances. In 2010, he was working on a project with John Cossette Productions, Inc. when a piece of ceiling fell and struck him during a sound check. As a result, he began collecting disability and workers compensation benefits, which continued for a period of one year.
The man claimed that he was unable to work during that period of time, but it turns out that he was still picking up professional dancing gigs. Most notably, the man starred as one of the dancing hamsters featured in a Kia Motors Corp. commercial. He is also believed to have taken on gigs as a back-up dancer for Madonna and other performers during that period of time.
When confronted by authorities, the man admitted guilt for making false statements and committing insurance fraud. He was recently sentenced to a period of 90 days of electronic monitoring. He will also perform 400 hours of community service, and be required to pay $24,000 in restitution. For California employers, the case serves as an example of the importance of being aware of employee fraud and taking action by alerting the authorities are and when the need arises.
Source: Businessinsurance.com, “Dancing hamster gig leads to comp fraud conviction“, Jan. 27, 2016