MercuryNews.com of San Jose, CA recently reported that three executives and a foreman of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning installation company in Hollister, CA are facing felony charges of forcing employees to return more than $170,000 in salary from public projects in Santa Clara County.
The charges against the men include taking and receiving the wages of a worker, falsely reporting wages paid on a public works payroll reporting form, violations of workers’ compensation insurance premium fraud, and making a false or fraudulent statement to discourage a worker from claiming benefits or pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.
Company executives would issue a paycheck to workers based on the hourly wage for public works projects, but then demand that the workers return about 75 percent of the paycheck. When a contractor is awarded a public works contract, the contractor must certify that they are paying employees the prevailing wage. The kickback scheme netted more than $170,000 for the company executives.
It is alleged that one of the executives committed workers’ compensation premium fraud by misclassifying employee wages to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier to reduce their premium. It is also alleged that two employees were dissuaded from reporting their work-related injuries to doctors. As a result, the workers were denied medical care and workers’ compensation benefits.