Shawna Palmer was going to squeeze her toes into those Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks – fill in the name of any other high end shoe brand – no matter what! After all, there was a beauty pageant title on the line – Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix in California. Unfortunately for Ms. Palmer, she chose to enter the contest when she was out of work, collecting workers’ compensation benefits for none other than – wait for it – her inability to wear SHOES due to a fractured toe. Oh, apparently except for high heel stilettos which every self-respecting beauty pageant contestant knows is a requirement. More unfortunately for Ms. Palmer, cameras were rolling and recording her runway strut potentially all the way to the unemployment line and a criminal prosecution.
Workers’ compensation insurance fraud is a crime draining billions of dollars from employers on an annual basis. When Ms. Palmer’s employer (or former employer??) learned about her high heel runway antics while, at the same time, claiming she couldn’t wear shoes to work, or work at all for that matter, it shared the video with state prosecutors. Ms. Palmer is now facing criminal charges as well as a civil judgment requiring her to reimburse her employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier for her ill-gotten gains – more than $20,000.00!
So, the question remains… Did Ms. Palmer become the next Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix beauty queen??? No! In fact, she did not even place in the contest!!
The bottom line is that workers’ compensation insurance fraud is a significant problem facing employers, but not always one easily detected. The good news is that when it is detected, local law enforcement takes it seriously.
Stay tuned for more tales of “Employees Behaving Badly” coming soon.
As an aside, Kara S. Nickel will be presenting a “New Claim on the Horizon: Family Responsibilities Discrimination” at our Miami office on September 17th. If you have not already done so, please register here for the in-person session or here for the webinar. We look forward to seeing you there!