This recent situation in Washington state was written about by guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm in Seattle. It is important to keep in mind now because with all the storm damage in Nebraska and Iowa this summer, many roofs will continue to be repaired through the fall season. Though workers’ compensation systems vary from state to state, when businesses are expected to have workers’ compensation insurance and don’t, the results are stark for injured workers and their loved ones. In addition to creating an unfair advantage for the business that’s not paying for the insurance, taxpayers often foot the bill when, not if, but when, a worker who thought he or she was covered by workers’ compensation faces the challenge of recovering from a work-related injury.
A Mason County, WA roofing contractor faces a criminal charge for allegedly failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance for his employees while they were on the job.
The Washington State Attorney General’s office has charged Peter Daniel Yeaman, 55, with unregistered contracting and doing business when his workers’ comp coverage was revoked.
The latter charge is a felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Yeaman is scheduled for arraignment in Kitsap County Superior Court today, July 23.
The case resulted from a Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation into Yeaman and his company, Southgate Roofing, of Belfair.
Unfair business advantage
“When contractors skip out on workers’ comp, it’s illegal and it’s incredibly unfair to legitimate contractors who pay their fair share and get underbid by these lawbreakers,” said Annette Taylor, deputy assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards.
“Workers’ comp premiums for roofers are among the highest in building construction and the trades, based largely on the safety risks those workers face.”
State law requires employers to provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. The coverage provides medical care and other financial support if employees are injured on the job.
Construction contractors also must register with L&I. The department confirms they have liability insurance and a bond and that, if they employ workers, they’ve paid their workers’ comp premiums.
At least six roofing employees
L&I suspended Southgate Roofing’s contractor registration in November 2012 for failing to pay workers’ comp premiums, and later officially revoked the company’s workers’ comp coverage.
Nonetheless, according to the charges, L&I found two consumers in Silverdale who had work done by the company in May 2014 and in August 2014.
During the August job, six workers told an L&I inspector they worked for Southgate Roofing. Yeaman himself told the inspector he needed to pay a bill before he could register as a contractor, charging papers said.
Eight previous infractions
In addition, the charges say that between October 2013 and September 2014, the company bought roofing materials numerous times from a Bremerton supplier and made numerous trips to a Bremerton disposal site.
Apart from the criminal charges, L&I has cited Yeaman with six unregistered contracting and two permit-related infractions since 2013, and several safety violations in 2013. L&I currently lists him as ineligible to bid or work on public works projects. He owes the department more than $28,000 for the unpaid fines and more than $131,000 for unpaid workers’ comp premiums, penalties and interest.