A Kennewick businessman was sentenced for failing to pay $40,000 in workers’ compensation insurance premiums, interest and penalties.
Rodney E. Dietrich, 41, pleaded guilty in Benton County Superior Court to hiring workers without providing workers’ compensation insurance, a gross misdemeanor.
Superior Court Judge Bruce Spanner sentenced Dietrich to 364 days in jail with all suspended.
He was ordered to pay an employee $670 for improper deductions from the worker’s pay and repaid Labor and Industries $241 for two months of insurance premiums he was required to pay to cover the employee, said a state Department of Labor and Industries news release
Dietrich operated a business in the same Kennewick location since 2004.
He changed the shop’s name, business structure and business license number two times, said the state. The business’ names were Rods Auto Repair, RODs Cars LLC and RODs CARS Corp. Each of the changes came after Dietrich fell behind on workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
Washington employers are required to have the insurance to pay for medical and other benefits to help employees with workplace injuries.
The department revoked Dietrich’s workers’ compensation coverage in summer 2015. Investigators determined Dietrich paid an auto technician in cash to work at his shop in late 2015.
“Employers should contact us whenever they have problems paying premiums to prevent their situation from spiraling out of control. We can work out payment plans if employers talk to us as soon as possible,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of the department’s fraud prevention and labor standards. “But those who ignore their premium notices or try to avoid detection risk receiving penalties and losing the ability to legally employ workers. In the worst cases, they could face criminal prosecution, as in this case.”