Employers might say “yes” but it would be too expensive to prosecute an employee in hopes of getting the money back. Most employers will simply fire the employee once they uncover the evidence. However, where it can get tricky is if you say you were injured during your work shift, but you were not really there at work during the time you state the accident occurred, and you receive benefits for your injury, then this would move into taking federal or state benefits illegally.
Let’s look at a possible scenario where the fraud of this nature could occur. John T. is prone to taking an extra break of 10 minutes after two hours once he has arrived to work in the morning. There is a fast-food restaurant down the street, and he picks up a soda and two donuts and eats them on the walk back to work almost every day.
Typically, everyone logs in and logs out when taking a break or going to lunch. But John T. does not always log out when going to the restaurant on his morning break. In effect, the company is paying for John T.’s break period when he either forgets or does not sign out and then, sign back in when returning.
On one occasion while in the restaurant, John T. slips and falls down because the restaurant had just washed a section of the floor where a tray of food had been dropped, and John T. does not see the wet area. As he steps into the area, his foot slips and John T. falls awkwardly onto the floor, bruising his hip and twisting his ankle.
John T. did not sign out that day when going for his morning break. He decides he will blame it on an accident he had while at work instead. John T. waits a day and then files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits so he can go see a doctor and find out if he broke anything. Along with that, John T. looks forward to taking some paid time off, while he is at it.
Meanwhile, a month later, his manager noted the discrepancies of John T. logging out sometimes while taking a break, but these breaks are not consistent with a daily habit of logging out and logging back in. So, the manager looks at CCTV video recordings for the past two weeks before John T. got “injured” and notes that John T. goes out every day, but not all the excursions are logged through the system. The manager notes which days are logged and which are not logged.
Even more eye-opening for the manager is that the day John T. claims he was injured at work and, at the time given for the claim, John T. was not there. He was on his usual jaunt to the restaurant and had not signed out or back in. Worse yet, John T. is visibly limping on the video when he comes back to work, indicating the injury occurred elsewhere, other than at the workplace.
John T. is accused of theft of time because he did not sign out or back in for days on end, especially for the day when he claimed he was injured. So, the company fires him on the spot and calls him up at home to let him know. Worse yet, the insurance company notes John T.’s dismissal and wants to know the details that the company provides to them. They demand that John T. return the workers’ compensation benefits he has received so far, or the insurance company will prosecute him. John T. is now in a lot of legal and financial trouble.
Chances are that John T. could have gotten away with his injuries (which were real) and with claiming workers’ compensation benefits as Arizona is a no-fault state when it comes to workplace accidents and claiming workers’ compensation benefits. What was suspicious to the manager as he dug into this case was there were no witnesses to the accident. With a full complement of workers on the floor, at least one person should have seen something related to the supposed accident. John T. did not consider the CCTV cameras inside recording everything, but also outside, which recorded John T. going to and from the restaurant at the time of the accident when he was “still at work.”
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