Oct. 2, 2012
A tow truck driver’s job is tough — the work takes a physical toll and there’s always the danger that comes from dodging freeway traffic while trying to hook up a disabled car.
Yet A1 Towing of Spanaway employed half a dozen tow truck drivers in this hazardous profession without paying any workers’ comp premiums for more than a full year. A1 did this after their certificate of coverage had already been revoked for nonpayment of workers’ comp premiums.
Last week, A1 Towing owners Sandra Rouse, 38, and Billie Rouse, 44, were charged in Pierce County Superior Court with operating a business without a certificate of coverage, a class C felony. They are scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 4.
In Washington, a business must have workers’ comp insurance in order to have employees. Without this certificate demonstrating the business has coverage, a business cannot operate with employees.
For A1, L&I revoked this certificate of coverage in October 2010 for nonpayment. In January 2011, we began investigating the company to see if they had still had employees despite having no workers’ comp coverage.
Over the course of the next few months, our investigators observed several people operate company tow trucks, both picking up and delivering vehicles to various locations. In follow up interviews, these investigators learned from some of the drivers that they were, in fact, working for A1 Towing.
At least one employee said he had never received a final paycheck. Another worker told investigators his wages were supposed to be garnished for child support with a certain amount sent to DSHS, but A1 Towing had failed to send more than $1,500 meant for support payments.
In all, it seems A1 Towing had six employees for more than a year following the revocation of their certificate of coverage. The premiums they should have paid for that period amounted to $21,700.
As ever, I’ll post again when there’s an update to this case.