Real 'BIG' news WTS sued biggie worker compensation

by DannyHaszard 210 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • Dogpatch

    to West70

  • Dogpatch

    Sorry! To West70,

    the way I understand it is that they would have to pay the same on claims if they are self-insured, but they don't have to pay premiums to another insurance company that could be very high. They have enough money to cover their butts. Same with car insurance, in most all cases if you have lots of money and set some aside for calamity, you don't need to be insured with Allstate.


  • Oroborus21


    JgNat: I don't see how this action could impose retroactive responsibility upon the WTS. Clearly, as a certified non-profit religious charity, the Society had every reason to believe that it was or is exempt from Worker's Comp. If the board or a court decides differently and that is held up on appeal than it seems to be that it is a going forward issue. Really just a new cost of doing business.

    I come back to a minor point I included which is to refer to the laws which impose upon NY officials, including the local zoning authorities, the duty to make sure that WC has been complied with (or the entity is exempt) before granting a permit for example. I believe it was reported on JWD only recently that such new developments were approved correct? This suggest compliance or in the least the expectation and belief that the WTS was in compliance. So again I don't see any retroactivity.

    If former Bethelites were injured on the job and they are still within the SOL they might have grounds for a lawsuit, same with current or future workers, based upon the usual reasons.

    West and others: I think you are missing the point. the status of the workers is actually quite immaterial. The only issue is whether an employer/company/corporation is subject to the WC requirements or not.

    If the WTS is subject to Worker's Compensation requirements, it will affect ALL persons performing any kind of work activity or activity which benefits the Society (except certain tasks considered "non-manual work" such as teaching) not just some of the Bethelites.

    The new development is that an admin law judge (the NY WC board) has held that it is subject to the WC in New York. This is a big development, I am not disputing that. (I think it won't hold up but that is my opinion.) Assuming that it does hold up, and lets just all assume that yes, from now on the WTS is subject to Worker's Compensation requirements, the major point of my post in this thread was to 1) point out that it would just be another cost of doing business, an additional insurance cost such as the current insurance that the Society no doubt has upon its properties, including probably general liability for slip and falls of visitors etc.. Yes it can get pricey but the Society can afford it. And 2) moreover the Society would likely qualify to self-insure, having probably a decent safety record, more than adequate assets, and actually not really having a payroll to speak of - which makes the usual calculations funny. Probably for an operation its size the Society would need to establish a Letter of Credit or security fund or keep a cash reserve of $1M to $10 million to satisfy the Board. I think it could handle that easily.

    And finally 3) that to keep in mind that the Daily News is hyperbolic by nature, not everything may be as objectively characterized as it could be and that contrary to what some of the forum participants had started getting excited about, being subject to WC does not entail a law-suit environment, or litigation. By former Bethelites or current workers or anyone else. If a person has grounds for a lawsuit then they do, the WC system has nothing to do with that, except that it might reduce damages.

    Skeeter: didn't quite answer my question did ye? I believe that for permanent disabilities after the initial periiod of cash award expires, this is the $400/week for a set period, that the person is no longer eligible for cash awards and has to apply for disability benefits, or even has to next turn to the Social Security system.

    AuldSoul, my someone is grumpy aren't we. Actually I didn't say anything about you, other than laugh how you were again trying to bring this WC situation into being related to the JCS stuff. Take a chill pill. And no for your info, I don't do any Worker's Comp at all. It is for bottom feeder lawyers. (sorry to any fellow lawyers out there who do this kind of work) besides you know that I practice in California so asking me if I have done in WC cases in NY is just a straw man.

    I think I have accurately summed up my assessment of the situation, and actually the WC law is not much different in NY than in California as far as principles go. [By the way, it is not a matter of trying to support the Society or trying to fight against it. That kind of black & white mentality is exactly the thing which permeates the culture of Jehovah's Witnesses and apparently some ex-members have never shed that type of mindset. I am giving my subjective opinion as objectively as I can. I have a lot of beef against the Society and my plans and work and hope is for nothing short of a complete revolution of the Org. But unlike some, I am honest in giving praise where praise is due, in recognizing certain positive aspects about Jehovah's Witnesses, and when it comes to a matter like this (or like with the JCS article) I believe that is a disservice to the cause to not present objective viewpoints, to point out possible flaws or errors, and maybe even to temper enthusiasm when such irrational exuberance may lead to more harm than good. I am sorry if you don't agree but I respect your own right to hold a different position. I respect zealotry and fanaticism more than apathy.] back to the point...

    I think that you and West to some degree and maybe others, misunderstand the fundamental issue and question. It is not about the workers, it is about the employer. Religious orgs under New York law are exempt from WC. (and federal WC rules too I believe) That is a decision of the NY legislature. The Board has to act in compliance with NY law. that is why I think this judge got it wrong and the full panel of the Board will correct the mistake. If it doesn't then the Society is going to have a heck of a good argument in the legal court system as to why the Board suddenly has made a religious Org subject to the WC law in NY in contravention to the legislature.

    But even if the decision is not reversed, the bottom line again folks, is that even if the WTS is henceforth subject to Worker's Compensation rules. So what? It is just a new insurance policy going forward which covers anyone, whether volunteer or not who gets injured while working on the job, on the premises doing work related activities or possibly "in relation to" work, perhaps travelling on business. That is all that it is and all that it would be.

    Randy is right, there are other legal bullets to fire at the Society that will have much more impact and get much more attention. (only the NY Daily News would write an article about a Worker's Comp hearing!)

    (Aside, the apparent determination in this case was that she was running to catch a bus, since normally mere commuting to your job before or after work does not entail the employer's respnsibilites including WC, I can only assume the judge made a point to find that the situatoin was not just mere commuting to work but still part of the work activity either because the bus itself was chartered by the Society and used for the purpose of transferring the workers, or because she was acting "under orders" to travel from upstate NY back to Brooklyn.)


  • Oroborus21

    Additional to West re your question to Randy:

    There are not really "big losses" involved. Again lawsuits are another matter but they are also completely unrelated to Worker's Compensation insurance. With WC, the injured person gets their medical bills paid, a cash award that is capped in NY at $400/wk (for a limited duration determined by the judge, not foreever or for the rest of their life) if they have a full disability and less money for partial disability, and a possible supplental award in some cases.

    The cost of insurance premiums either to the approved ICarriers or to enroll with the State Insurance Fund, vary depending on the industry, and a number of other factors, including interestingly, the payroll.

    But the WTS doesn't really hve a payroll does it? Other than the small stipends it doles out. It probably has an excellent safety record, which maybe Randy can discuss how things were when he was at Bethel regarding safety regs.

    The "industry" that the Society would categorized is probably moderately dangerous (I don't know without researching it). I mean the printing industry with all those heavy reams and rolling presses, etc. someone could get seriously injured so probably it is on the upper end of the dangerous category, but maybe modern tech and automation have made it much safer now.

    Even so, the insurance premiums would be significant but not obscene and certainly they would not run the Society out of town or out of business. (Which is why I still question that quotation from the new story.)

    And again, most likely the Society would qualify to self-insure, maybe even all of the corps would do it as a "group" self-insurance. If it self-insured all it would really have are administration costs. Since these would likely be performed by Bethelites, even these costs would be minimal. (Though, one thing to keep in mind is that part of the periodic certification process includes providing financial statements along with the other things to the NY WC Board and these likely would be subject to the public's inspection. The Society might not want to do that and so might go with an insurance carrier instead or the State Fund. It would lose the ability to contest any claims directly and of course have to pay much more than if it self-insured but the tradeoff of not having that confidential info get out to the public might be worth it.) (I just thought I would add this little tidbit for you conspiracy nuts.)


  • AuldSoul
    Actually I didn't say anything about you
    Bah, hah, hah, hah, hah! I got to give him props he is as tenacious as a bulldog (my favourite kind by the way). No Old Sole this is not another brick for the bogus Misrepresentation/Big News theory and by the way it was not a "case" that was "tried." It was a hearing that was heard. Small but big difference. :-)

    I don't remember saying you said something about me. I said you demeaned posters who disagree with your viewpoint. Only someone without certainty of their own argument would do that. You did that.

    In your most recent post, you post why you were uncertain. I think maybe when you are only talking out of your ass in future you should disclaim your post accordingly. You have never done WC work because it is for bottom feeders, but you not only know WC inside and out, you know how it works in a state near the opposite corner of the map from you? Well enough to know what the hell you're talking about in this particular instance?

    Gimme a friggin' break!

    BTW, I didn't suggest this was a brick for the misrepresentation theory, I suggested it may very well be a signal that the mood in courts is changing regarding the time-honored tradition of granting near-autonomy to religions.


  • West70


    That's NOT what you said. You stated:

    "But the very fact that from now on they COULD act in this matter as self-insured if they desire kind of protects them from future big losses."

    Your "changed tune" is now correct. WC injury claims have to be handled the same per NY State Law regardless whether the employer is self-insured or is protected by a purchased insurance policy.

    As for your "Allstate" analogy, I know of no single Millionaire who foregoes auto insurance simply because he has a large bank account. The opposite is true. The Millionaires who have many assets are those who need and want insurance to protect such from "future big losses".

    Yes, some businesses with "deep pockets" choose to self-insure, but many times the negatives and hassles outweigh the positives on the other side of the scale.

    If WBTS chose to self-insure, yes, they would save the initial "premium", but expose themselves to even larger financial losses.

    Injured Bethelites would then be eligible for standardized benefits (as opposed to being at the mercy of the WBTS), plus they could still take disputed claims before the WC Board.

    If you think the Brenda Upton case and the 25% staff reduction are purely COINCIDENTAL, please enlighten us as to what the real reason is behind this unprecedented reduction.

  • Oroborus21


    I know this is completely tangential, but I was wondering Randy or anyone who might know, has there ever been any inkling of a thought about unionizing the Bethelites? (Obviously, I can imagine why such a thought or move would be absurd given most Bethelites when they go think they are what, have just won the spiritual lottery?, whatever, but I wonder if in today's climate, where there is probably some who disgruntled and ready to shake things up, if they couldn't consider it.) I don't know how being a religious order affects any attempts at unionization, maybe it prevents it entirely. Interesting to think about.


  • daniel-p

    "I know this is completely tangential, but I was wondering Randy or anyone who might know, has there ever been any inkling of a thought about unionizing the Bethelites?"

    Any such movement would be inseperably synonomous with apostacy. I don't see how it could ever gain steam above a handful of individuals which would be ousted immediately.

  • West70


    I simply do not have the patience to critique your lengthy posts line-by-line.

    However, this statement of yours basically sums up the quality of your arguments:

    "West and others: I think you are missing the point. the status of the workers is actually quite immaterial. The only issue is whether an employer/company/corporation is subject to the WC requirements or not."

    Are you saying that in a not-for-profit religious organization that the "status" of a "worker" is "immaterial"?

    If I'm not mistaken, it is the very "not-for-profit religious organization" that has BOTH "employees" and "volunteers".

    How do you suppose it is determined whether an injured person at one of these "not-for-profit religious organizations" receives WC benefits?

    THIS is THE ISSUE this Judge has ruled on. He has decided that Brenda Upton's "status" is an "employee" at least some of the time; if not all of the time.

  • Sunspot

    When a person such as in this case, sues a corporation and wins---and the company "appeals"---does this mean that payouts or compensation stops or is put on "hold" until it goes back into court again for the final decision?

    Could the WTS keep "appealing" this over and over as they come up with "reasons" to keep it floating?

    I think that people go to prison when convicted, and wait for appeals to be heard while in there, but is this different under the WC appeals?

    How would this work? (If at all?)


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