Several separate lawsuits are accusing the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation of cheating injured workers. Many employers also claimed to have been shortchanged by the agency. Combined, the lawsuits assert the bureau has underpaid employers and injured employees by at least $4 billion in workers' compensation benefits.
Data shows that at least 20,000 Ohio workers have accepted lump-sum settlements from the Ohio BWC since 1994, but the recent lawsuits allege that those recipients should have been entitled to much more.
One Ohio BWC official claimed on videotape that the agency typically offers injured workers 70 percent of the benefits they should have received by law. An individual that helps oversee payments for the BWC claimed that the bureau uses 70 percent as a starting point for negotiations, but a former agency employee claimed that he and his colleagues were instructed by WBC superiors never to offer more than 70 percent. He continued, adding that in the 12 years he was employed with the agency's lump-sum payment departments, he never knew of an injured worker receiving more than 70 percent of their entitled amounts, with many receiving significantly less.
The BWC declined to respond to the allegations, saying only that it would continue to increase its quality of service and try to help injured workers regain their employment as soon as possible.
An attorney representing a group of employers who believed they were also cheated out of money called the BWC "a money-making operation," saying that the agency forced thousands of businesses across Ohio to shut down.
Source: WKYC, "Investigator: Workers' Comp shortchanging workers, employers?," Tom Meyer, Nov. 7, 2011