It was recently reported in the Insurance Journal that the New York State Workers’Compensation Board filed a $79,000 judgment against comic Tina Fey on March 20 for an alleged failure to carry workers’ comp insurance during a fifteen month period. The article does not provide what types of workers were covered under her workers’ comp policy. In this particular case, it appears that there was a clerical error and that Fey did in fact have insurance coverage for the time period, but this case serves as a reminder that there are very serious penalties for an employer’s failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Failure to maintain insurance is taken very seriously in New Jersey. Sanctions for uninsured employers are severe, ranging from prosecution as a strict liability disorderly person’s offense to a fourth degree criminal offense. Cases of willful failure to comply with the law are routinely forwarded to the Attorney General for action. In addition to criminal sanctions there are civil fines and penalties. Uninsured employers, upon identification, can be assessed penalties of up to $5,000 for the first ten days of non-compliance in addition to up to $5,000 for every ten day period thereafter.
With the exception of public employers and employers of domestic workers, the law requires that employers operating in New Jersey provide for the payment of workers’ compensation benefits through an insurance policy or an approved plan of self-insurance. If you suspect that your employer is in violation of this requirement, you should immediately notify the Office of Special Compensation Funds at (609) 292-0165 or at P.O. Box 399, Trenton, NJ 08625-0399 of your suspicion. You need not identify yourself but you should be prepared to provide the name and exact address of the employer and, if possible, the names of the principle operators of the business.
Additionally, proof of coverage should be displayed in a prominent location at the place of business.