DWC Beefs Up Staff, Targets Bad Actors

DWC Beefs Up Staff, Targets Bad Actors

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The California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) and the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) are improving cooperation while beefing up staff to better serve employers, injured workers and other members of the workers’ comp community, says Division of Workers’ Compensation administrative director Rosa Moran. She also notes that bad actors should be on notice — the various branches under the DIR umbrella are now actively sharing data and will be targeting the worst offenders for enforcement actions.

Moran delivered the opening keynote speech at DWC’s annual two-day educational conference in Los Angeles. The sold out event includes more than 900 attendees.

“We have people sharing data in the state – sharing data between EDD, DWC DOSH, Cal/OSHA – that data is really important because if there is one thing we’ve learned it’s that if you’re a bad employer, and there are lots of good employers out there, but if you’re a bad employer you tend to be bad all around,” says Moran. “You’re not just cheating on your workers’ comp, you’re probably cheating on your payroll, you’re probably not asking for documentation from your workers. By sharing that data it’s amazing how we can target a small group of people instead of bothering the employers who are actually trying to follow the rules.”

DIR recently took over direction of a collaborative effort to target the underground economy. “It’s about targeted enforcement. It’s not about going around randomly to different companies,” adds Moran. “We can use the data that we have and we have good data now and we can use that to look for the bad actors and go after them and support the good employers.”

In addition to trying to tear down the silos that have built up with DIR, Moran says the division is also gaining resources to help it do its job. She notes that Susan Hamilton, a retired deputy commissioner at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB), has joined DWC as a special assistant to the administrative director. “She knows comp inside and out and is the person we go to when we don’t know what to do,” Moran says.

“We also have a bunch of new judges coming on board and I am thrilled to death by it. Most of the boards added one if not two judges and a couple added three judges,” she says. The limited hiring authority that allowed DWC to bring in the judges also provided for a senior legal secretary to support each of the judges and allow them to keep up with the paperwork.

Being in Southern California, Moran acknowledges that Los Angeles was ground zero for the lien problem. She notes that during visits to area boards that the average board she visited had “200 to 300 banker boxes full of unfiled liens…It’s a Southern California problem but it’s creeping up towards Fresno.”

Moran says she will be looking for suggestions from the community when she and DIR Director Christine Baker tour the state in April. Six forums are currently scheduled and additional ones may soon be added. The current list includes West Sacramento on April 10, Los Angeles April 16, Fresno April 18, San Bernardino April 24, La Mesa April 25 and Oakland April 30. Seating is limited, so individuals should sign up now by clicking here. DIR says it will likely provide a sign up sheet for those who wish to speak, and each speaker will be limited to three minutes. Written comments will also be accepted, or they can be emailed to DIR@dir.ca.gov. Stay tuned for additional meetings.