Monday, June 20, 2011

Shape Fitness Owner Disputes Costello Claim

The article you posted (6/17/11) concerning the new labor commissioner cracking down on companies who have failed to pay or refuse to pay workman's comp insurance is not true.

I own and operate Shape Fitness LLC and refuse to let the labor commissioner slander my companies reputation because of a disagreement of the civil penalty of $1575.00 the labor commission has forced on me and my company.

The article states that.... "Costello explained that the process begins with an investigation to determine coverage. The Employment Standards Division then gives 30 days to comply. If the employer fails to comply, additional penalties are assessed. This process involves an Administrative Hearing and plenty of opportunities to comply."

First, That statement is a lie and i was not given ANY time to comply with the lack of workman's comp coverage my company needed to be in compliance with the Oklahoma Dept. of Labor.

The very first time i was contacted by the Dept of Labor, i was told i would be fined for lack of coverage AFTER they conduct an investigation to determine how many employees i had over the seven year period i had owned my business and not paid workman's comp. I explained that i was unaware i was required to pay workman's comp insurance. To my knowledge i have always paid every tax, fee, permit, or license associated with any employee my company had employed in the entire seven years i had been in business.

Also, without question i submitted to the dept. of labor my full roster of employees since the first day i hired an employee and all records indicating i had paid in full, anything associated with employees my company had employed. Following the first contact from the Dept. of Labor i immediately secured workman's comp insurance through Compsource for all my employees and pay the premium in FULL every year since the very first time i was aware i needed to secure more insurance than i already had.

I explained all of this to the Dept of Labor Commission Administration during the hearing and was told i would still be assessed a penalty of $1575.00 and to feel lucky thats all i had to pay. I told the presiding judge in the hearing that i do not agree to the penalty and payment of the fine would admit guilt to something i do not feel i had done wrong.

I started Shape Fitness LLC in the summer of 2002 after honorably separating from wartime service in the USAF for a term of 6 years 8 months and 23 days. Shape Fitness began as a single location in Midwest City OK with 0 employees and 0 experience as to how to operate a business. Now almost 10 years later i have 11 locations across oklahoma and arkansas and work hard every single day building a business in a unsteady economy and paying every tax, permit, fee, license, insurance or whatever dept. says i have to comply to be in business in both states.

I feel i am being railroaded by the Oklahoma Dept. Of Labor to pay a penalty i do not agree with and now the new Labor Commissioner wants to single my company out as the major part of their 1.6 million dollars in outstanding penalties that have went uncollected.

Now i ask you... Does this seem right to YOU? I feel i am unjustly being accused of not paying for a civil penalty i feel was wrongly assessed on my company. i also plan to fight the penalty with any resource i have available and would be willing to discuss this to anyone in further detail. Thank you for your time.
~ Andy Copeland Shape Fitness LLC

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