Today, New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang released her Office’s 2021 Workers’ Compensation Fraud Annual Report and also recognized 111 years since the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire—a pivotal event in the history of American labor that changed worker protections forever.
The fire, which remains one of the deadliest workplace tragedies in the history of New York State, resulted in the death of 146 people. The victims, primarily young immigrant women who had been working under deplorable conditions, were unable to be rescued by first responders because the owners of the factory had locked the stairwells and exit doors to discourage breaks and prevent theft. Resulting public outrage spurred the passage of more than thirty health and safety laws in New York State, including factory fire codes, child labor restrictions, and, after a previous iteration had been struck down by the Courts only a day before the fire, a new workers’ compensation system.
“Over a hundred years ago, New Yorkers came together after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire to demand better and safer working conditions and a system to compensate all injured workers,” said New York State Inspector General Lang. “The fire became a crucible for change in our state, leading to the passage of a new workers’ compensation law to protect New York’s most precious resource, its people. My office remains committed to ensuring that system is free from fraud and abuse so that it will always be there for those who need it.”
This week is an opportunity to remember to those whose deaths catalyzed a movement that helped restore a measure of humanity and dignity to exploited factory workers. As part of the observance and commemoration of the tragedy, Inspector General Lang released the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Inspector General 2021 Annual Report. This report describes progress the Inspector General’s Office made toward its vision of a safe, secure, and fair workers’ compensation system for all New Yorkers, and demonstrates how the agency is preventing and deterring fraud to keep the system efficient and effective.
The report also details how Inspector General Lang has implemented additional actions in furtherance of this mission, including appointing a skilled senior attorney in her office to serve in the newly created role of Attorney-in-Charge for Workers’ Compensation Fraud to strengthen the office’s handling of these critically important cases.
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