Employer fined for insurance offenses

The owner of a business that closed down in 2011 was fined on Wednesday for two offenses against the Health Insurance Law.

Leroy Mitchell Jr., who with his wife owned and operated Candles Unlimited, was fined $1,000 for unlawful deductions from an employee’s pay and failure to effect and continue health insurance coverage.

Mitchell pleaded guilty in December, and sentencing was adjourned while he made monthly payments to compensate the employee for the $1,170.96 that had been deducted from her pay, but which was not applied to the insurance policy.

Crown counsel Scott Wainwright said the employee had worked with the business since 2007. After it closed in January 2011, she complained to the Health Insurance Commission that the firm had no coverage for her from June 2010, although $83.64 had been regularly deducted from her pay, which she received twice monthly.

The insurance commission sent a letter to Mrs. Mitchell seeking a response to the allegation. Mrs. Mitchell explained that at the time the business closed, the employee was given her final paycheck and was advised that reimbursement for the insurance would be deposited to her account. However, the money was never repaid.

In court this week, Mr. Mitchell explained that he and his wife had been involved in another business along with Candles Unlimited and they had made payments to that business owner, who was also their accountant. That person did not make the payments to the insurance company, he said.

A representative of the Health Services Commission confirmed that all the money due to the employee had been paid to the commission and would be returned to her.

Magistrate Grace Donalds advised that the law provides for a maximum penalty of a fine of up to $30,000, but in other similar cases the fines have tended to be amounts equivalent to the sums not paid.

On that basis, the magistrate imposed a fine of $500 for each of the two offenses, for a total of $1,000.

With the matter concluded, Mr. Wainwright said the Crown would not proceed against Mrs. Mitchell.