News roundup: NY, PCBs, heat stroke, horseplay, and FedEx

July 19th, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

New York rejects a rate hike. A 7.5 percent rate hike requested by the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board on behalf of insurers was rejected by state officials yesterday. As a reason for the rejection, officials stated that the New York market remains profitable. Officials also berated insurers for not being aggressive about pursuing fraud, and linked this as a reason for the denial. Officials cited one insurer that referred only 320 out of a potential 40,000 claims to its Special Investigation Unit for investigation out of a total policy count of over 40,000. It would seem that insurers have a vested interest in ferreting out fraud – perhaps the state’s expectations about the prevalence are unrealistic? In our experience, we find much of the talk about rampant employee fraud overinflated. It will be interesting to see what the industry response to this salvo will be.
Firefighter exposure to PCBs. The Washington Post features a story about firefighters who are developing cancer after exposure to PCBs in training exercises some 20 years ago. “At least 120 firefighters who graduated from the fire training academy in Millersville between 1968 and 1985 have been diagnosed with cancer, and at least 40 have died.” The article clearly demonstrates the uphill battle that workers face in trying to prove a casual link between an illness and the workplace. Thanks to Confined Space for pointing us to this.
Congratulations – to Michael Fox of Jottings by an Employer’s Lawyer on his reaching the 4 year mark in blogging. (A blogiversary?) We are approaching our 3 year mark this fall, and when we started, Michael’s blog was one of our inspirations and remains a favorite read. he has been consistently providing valuable information and excellent insight on employment law issues. Kudos and thanks for many fine posts, Michael!
Horseplay. Michael Fitzgibbon has a good post on horseplay and worker’s compensation coverage, discussing a recent Colorado court ruling that awarded workers comp benefits to an employee in the case of Panera Bread LLC v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office of the State of Colorado and Julio Medina (PDF). Michael offers a great overview of the four-part test the courts used in making its determination.
Avoiding heat strokerawblogXport points us to resources on how to avoid heat stroke, timely information for many workplaces.
FedEx drivers – more in the continuing saga of FedEx drivers seeking employment status. The issue of contractor vs. employee, particularly in the case of FedEx, is one that we’ve covered covered this issue repeatedly in several prior posts.

“A national class-action lawsuit with hundreds of plaintiffs from 30 states was filed in 2005 against FedEx Ground alleging that workers were misclassified as independent contractors.

Other cases against FedEx have already been filed and won. In June, a California Employment Development Department audit found that FedEx Ground owes the state at least $7.8 million in back employment taxes because contracted drivers were misclassified. In February, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that 23 FedEx drivers in Worcester, Massachusetts could join a union because they were employees of the company, and not independent contractors as previously classified.”