Labor advocates: Workers’ comp case misses target

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater touted the arrests of more than 100 immigrant agriculture workers last July as an effort to crack down on the costly problem of workers’ compensation fraud.

But it quickly became apparent the raid on the Naples-area Oakes Farm fruit and vegetable processing plant wasn’t your typical workers’ compensation fraud, such as employees who fake back injuries or businesses who treat employees as outside contractors.

Instead, the state attorney’s office charged the mostly Mexican and Central American workers, many in the country illegally, under Florida statutes that makes it a felony to use a fake or stolen ID to obtain a job – and, by extension, workers’ compensation insurance.

On Tuesday, prosecutors and an attorney representing the workers confirmed most had agreed to a pretrial diversion deal akin to probation.

Naples attorney Donald Day said as long as the workers kept out of trouble, the charges would be dropped.

Still, Immigrant and workers’ advocates say Atwater is skirting the line of pre-empting the federal government’s immigration authority by targeting these workers, whose main crime was finding a fake Id that employers wink and nod at – and should instead go after the employers who benefit from their cheap labor.

“In Florida this is a new wrinkle, where the state is going after people who haven’t even filed a workers’ comp claim, and is essentially…

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