Ridge & Downes - Law Firm

  • Gov. Rauner Vetoes WC Premium Reforms

    At a time when the costs associated with Workers’ Compensation claims fall but insurance premiums continue to rise, the Illinois General Assembly passed two bills intended to make Workers’ Compensation Insurance more cost effective for employers while continuing to protect injured workers. Governor Rauner has vetoed both bills.

    HB 2622 allowed for a State chartered not for profit insurance company to offer competitive Workers’ Compensation Insurance. HB 2525 primarily added oversight to the process of setting Workers’ Compensation premiums so they could be more in line with the recommendations being made by NCCI.  As you know, the NCCI recently recommended a 10.9 percent cut in workers’ compensation insurance premiums for 2018.  This was the fifth consecutive rate reduction that has been recommended, yet Illinois law does not require compliance with these recommendations.  Without this oversight, Workers’ Compensation Insurance carriers are allowed to charge whatever premiums they wish, even if they are not reflective of the costs incurred.

    Both bills would have increased competition in the marketplace, providing Employers with cost savings while protecting the rights of injured workers.  Governor Rauner vetoed HB 2622 on 08/18/2017 and vetoed HB 2525 on 08/25/2017. 

    Governor Rauner has pushed back that these bills were not “real reforms,” but that’s only because they were reforms of his multi-billion dollar insurance company cronies.  Call your legislators and ask them to stand with Illinois Employers and Workers to override these vetoes.


  • NCCI Recommends 5th Consecutive WC Premium Rate Reduction

    record-low-interest-rateThe National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), an insurance industry rate making agency which provides workers’ compensation data, has issued its workers’ compensation advisory rates for 2018.  It states that Illinois employers should see a 10.9 percent cut in their workers’ compensation insurance premiums in 2018 – this is the fifth consecutive rate reduction that has been recommended.

    The recommended cuts since 2011 now total 36.5%. Unfortunately in Illinois, insurance companies aren’t required to follow these recommendations, so the insurance industry has pocketed this huge profit margin. Insurance profits have increased more than 400% since the 2011 benefit cuts, according to Sean Stott, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Midwest Region of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
    However, legislation to lower workers’ compensation costs for employers and hold insurance companies accountable for these runaway rates sits on the Governor’s desk.  If the Governor really wanted to save Illinois employers money, he would sign these bills!


  • Fired for Reporting Track Defects

    A veteran track inspector has recently filed suit against the BNSF Railroad alleging that they fired him for reporting a dangerous major defect in its tracks — in violation of a rail-safety law enacted by Congress. Congress amended the Federal Railroad Safety Act in 2008, after public hearings “which demonstrated that railroads have a financial incentive to discourage employees from reporting safety concerns and that they frequently act on such incentive by disparately applying vague workplace rules against employees who report safety concerns.”

    In the federal lawsuit filed on April 5, 2017, it is alleged that “BNSF ensures its supervisors have a personal motive to discourage employees from reporting safety concerns by maintaining an incentive compensation plan whereby it pays its managers a yearly bonus based, in part, on productivity.” The amended Railroad Safety Act gave railroad employees the right to sue their employers in Federal Court, and added protections for whistleblower retaliation.

    It is alleged in the federal complaint that the track inspector told his supervisor in June 2015 that he had found a major defect, and that the tracks had to be “taken out of service.” In response, the supervisor texted the track inspector: “Don’t do it.” As alleged in the complaint, later that day, the supervisor told him: “If you continue to do this, you know what will happen.”  The fired track inspector is seeking reinstatement, lost wages, expungement of his record, damages for violations of the Railway Safety Act, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages.

    Ridge & Downes is dedicated to using the legal tools provided by Congress, such as the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 2008, to protect workers from workplace harassment and retaliation.    


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