Friday, May 18, 2018


Train injuries
Lies with whom?

ADVISEN FPN1 – ONE OF MY FAVORITE risk-related sites provided an bountiful selection of things to consider on Friday (5/18).

Three that got my attention were

  1. Laborers on a ‘Billionaires’ Row’ Tower Cheated of Wages, D.A. Says
  2. A Burger King worker thought a black man’s $10 bill was fake. He was arrested. Now he’s suing
  3. Amputees sue railroad in Iowa, saying it creates danger

EACH ARTICLE had something an enterprise risk management practitioner should consider.

For example

Laborers on a ‘Billionaires’ Row’ Tower Cheated of Wages, D.A. Says

According to the New York Times2,

    The laborers were doing concrete work on the luxury Steinway Tower at 111 West 57th Street, a needlelike skyscraper set to open next year full of condominiums for some of the world’s wealthiest people. But the company employing the $25-an-hour workers, the authorities said, was cheating them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages by purposely shorting their hours and failing to pay them overtime.

    The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said on Wednesday that the company, Parkside Construction, and its affiliates stole more than $1.7 million in wages over three years from about 520 workers at the tower and seven other high-rise buildings. The company also hid nearly $42 million in wages from state insurance officials to avoid paying millions in workers’ compensation premiums.

    Many of the cheated workers were undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Ecuador, Mr. Vance said. When the workers complained, they were falsely told the money would be in their next check or were encouraged to find work elsewhere.

Where is ICE (the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement )?

One of the things I learned from an HR assistant (the manager apparently was oblivious to the issue) is that lack of I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms can prove costly for employers.

According to the Garvey - Schubert - Barer (GSB)3 and the Fisher Phillips4 web sites,

    With no fanfare and minimal notice, the government has significantly increased the penalties that can be assessed for a variety of offenses related to the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9.

    A “mere” error on the paperwork, such as failure to check a box or confirm that the employee dated the document, can result in a penalty of between $216 and $2,156. Previously, the penalty ranged from $110 to $1,100. This almost doubling of the penalty range is significant because penalties for paperwork errors can be the largest aspect of government fines, even for the best of employers.

    The penalties for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized individuals have gone up, too. The “old” penalties for a first violation ranged from $375 to as much as $3,200 for each worker for a first-time offense. Under the new, current protocol, the penalty range is from $539 to as much as $4,313 for a first offense. An employer that gets audited and cited a third time can be ordered to pay as “little” as $6,469 and as much as $21,563 per unauthorized worker. (GSB)

    If there’s any good news, it begins with the fact that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a new Form I-9 (dated November 14, 2016). Using the new form became mandatory as of January 21, 2017. While this new form should help employers eliminate errors in completing the forms, it creates fewer excuses for employers who fail to execute it properly.

    The new form provides clearer instructions for employees and employers on the correct way to complete it. For those employers completing the form electronically, the new I-9 provides “smart fields” which will limit errors by those entering the data into the form. This new form, which replaced the version in existence since 2013, will be valid until August 31, 2019. After January 21, 2017, all previous versions of the Form I-9 are invalid for new hires, re-hires, and re-verification purposes.(Fisher Phillips)

Since New York already has established that many Steinway Tower workers are illegal immigrants, ICE should be knocking at the door of their employers. Anything else will simply encourage scofflaws.

*  *  *

A Burger King worker thought a black man’s $10 bill was fake. He was arrested. Now he’s suing

This is a case that never should have happened and the error was compounded apparently by the local police.

The first link I found was to a Washington Post article headed A Burger King worker thought a black man’s $10 bill was fake. He was arrested. Now he’s suing.5.

As a former reporter and editor, the WashPost’s headline (and the article that followed) rated a D minus for clarity. Who was arrested? The worker or the black man? Who is suing? The worker or the black man? It only got worse from the headline on.

Fortunately, the Chicago Tribune6 and SFGate7 did a much better job.

Basically, this homeless black man walks into a Boston-area burger joint and orders breakfast. He offers a $10 bill in payment.

The burger flipper decides the bill is counterfeit and calls the cops. The cops arrive and haul the guy to jail; charge: probation violation (for trying to pass funny money).

THREE MONTHS LATER, the Secret Service determined the bill was good and the man is released from jail.

Now he’s suing the burger joint for almost a $1 million.

All this could have been avoided had the restaurant’s owners had the good sense to train their employees how to recognize counterfeit cash.

The cops should have delayed an arrest until the $10 bill was taken to a nearby bank where it could be checked; the banks are as good at detecting funny money as the feds, and faster, too.

The black dude still might have sued, but probably not for close to $1 million.

Oh, and by the way, he never got his $10 back.

*  *  *

Amputees sue railroad in Iowa, saying it creates danger

According to The State8, two women are suing someone for loss of limbs when, as they tried to get from Point A to Point B by going between railroad cars, the train started to move.

The article failed to state that the women were suing the Canadian National Railway (I don't know where the head writer got that idea; not from the story) and its subsidiaries.

The women could be suing the the city (Waterloo) for several things. The city has an ordinance that prohibits trains from blocking crossings for more than 10 minutes, an ordinance apparently not enforced.

Since 1991, at least five people have lost hands, arms or legs while trying to climb through a stopped freight train that started moving unexpectedly, according to The State.

A Canadian National spokesman shifted the focus to the actions of the injured women, saying that trespassing on railways tracks and property "is illegal and very dangerous."

Since this is a recurring problem, and since the city failed to enforce the law, it could have avoided the accident by providing a pedestrian overpass. (The nearest unblocked crossing is said to be about a mile away.)

In their lawsuits, the women say they waited an unspecified "reasonable amount of time" before they tried to climb through long-stopped trains, which didn't sound any audible warnings before starting to move. They argue that the railroad has taken no other steps to protect the public at the site, such as building a footbridge over the rails or separating the trains at crossings when they are stopped.

Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart, who said his complaints to the railroad and GOP U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office about the blockages have gone nowhere.

Since this “accident-waiting-to-happen” has been ongoing since at least 1991, the city should have sued the railroad to force construction of a pedestrian overpass or built an overpass on the taxpayers’ dollars. The senator seems to have turned a deaf ear to the city but Iowa has two senators (the other being GOP Senator Joni Kay Ernst ) and Republican U.S. Rep. Rod Blum. (President Trump carried District 1.)

Bottom line for Waterloo: A risk manager would have told the city government to act for the safety of its citizens rather than waiting for Gadot (railroad and federal aid).









PLAGIARISM is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind.

Truth is an absolute defense to defamation. Defamation is a false statement of fact. If the statement was accurate, then by definition it wasn’t defamatory.

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