Ryan Benharris of The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl is a determined and reliable personal injury attorney concentrating...
Judson L. Pierce is a graduate of Vassar College and Suffolk University Law School where he received his Juris...
By 2019 millennials will outnumber Baby Boomers in the United States. The amount of American workers working for themselves is expected to triple to 42 million by 2020 with 42% of them estimated to be millennials.
Workers’ Comp Matters guest host, Judson Pierce is joined by Ryan Benharris of the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, as they explore the millennial aka the “Cut Back Generation”, discuss the gig economy, millennials vs. boomers, and how working remotely affects workers’ compensation.
Workers Comp Matters
How Millennials and Work Remotes are Impacting Workers’ Comp
Intro: This is Workers Comp Matters, hosted by attorney Alan S. Pierce, the only Legal Talk Network program that focuses entirely on the people and the law in workers’ compensation cases. Nationally recognized trial attorney, expert, and author Alan S. Pierce is a leader committed to making a difference when workers comp matters.
Judson L. Pierce: Welcome to another edition of Legal Talk Network and Workers Comp Matters. My name is Judson Pierce and I’m an attorney at Pierce, Pierce & Napolitano in Salem, Massachusetts and I’m filling in today on this special Thanksgiving Eve edition for Alan Pierce, who’s probably cooking some Brussels sprouts and squash right now.
We’re happy to bring you this special Thanksgiving Eve edition with guest Ryan Benharris, a good friend of mine and a colleague. Ryan is an attorney in Fall River, Massachusetts at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl.
Ryan concentrates on areas of workers’ compensation law, Social Security Disability law, unemployment and Accidental Disability Retirement for municipal employees. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a BA in Communications and he received his Juris Doctor at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Law and he’s been practicing for quite a while in this area.
And we’re very excited that he could join us. Ryan, good morning.
Ryan Benharris: Good morning Jud. Thank you very much for having me. It’s an honor to be on your show.
Judson L. Pierce: I’m sort of taking over a show from some other radio personality but I will call it my show for today. And before we get into our topic, we want to thank our sponsor.
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And today, we’re talking about Millennials and how they’re changing the face of workers’ compensation. I’m not a millennial. I am a Gen Xer and I’m not sure Ryan that you are a Millennial. Are you?
Ryan Benharris: I am not. I am with you in the Gen X category Jud. I was born in 1979 and we both just sort of missed the cut offs of being Millennials. And I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing and being right in the middle, we sort of are stuck trying to decide where our loyalty lies; whether it’s with the Millennials or the baby boomers or I think our generation just sort of got lost in the shuffle, nobody really cares what we think.
Judson L. Pierce: Yeah we’re sort of in the middle, you’re right and we have some good movies in the 90s that sort of talk about our generation. But we really have been forgotten about, I agree.
Ryan Benharris: Right and Michael Jordon, we had Michael Jordan.
Judson L. Pierce: Oh we do, we do have him, yeah. Our children aren’t Millennials, they’re like iPhone children or iGeneration children. So they probably don’t take part in our discussion today either, but Millennials have gotten a lot of recognition and coverage in the media and in society for basically just their overall norms and behavior.
Could you tell us a little bit about what your research has shown about what makes up the Millennials today?
Ryan Benharris: Of course, so I started doing some research on this topic back at the beginning of the year. They asked me at the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group which I know you are also a board member of, to speak at their annual convention, and I did that this year on Halloween.
And I wrote a presentation entitled, how Millennials are changing the face of workers’ compensation, subtitled the consequences of the gig economy and the young working class. I’ve always been fascinated by the subject. My history, I’ve got my prior life I was a journalist. So I’ve been doing some work for years on the side working for LexisNexis, writing articles for them and every year, they’ve sent me to the Workers’ Comp Research & Institute Convention in Boston and they’ve been doing something on this topic for quite some time.
So I’ve been writing on Millennials and the gig economy for a good part of five years now and what I’m finding is that a lot of the industry is really being geared toward Millennials and their work habits and how they have graphically different work habits than any other generation that we’ve seen before.
And the majority of my research began with identifying who Millennials are, where they are, how many of them there are out there and then gradually moved into the research of how the industry is changing as a result of these millennial characteristics.
Judson L. Pierce: And how is your journalism background helped prepare you for this presentation that was very widely received, well received at the Las Vegas Conference last month?
Ryan Benharris: Thank you. Yeah I mean being a journalist is not a lot different than being an attorney and I was sort of a natural progression from one to the other. I like to say that it was a — that it was something that I was planning and looking forward to.
But like so many journalists of my age as the industry started going in a different direction, we started dying out as a field. I didn’t last very long in journalism. I only had a real journalism job for about six months before I decided to go to law school when I was 22 years old.
But the basic principles of journalism, researching stories and trying to be impartial and that is sort of also what legal writing is based on as well. So in this particular situation though, just looking at how Millennials are different as opposed to the other generations in the legal field and specifically in workers’ compensation, it was pretty interesting to see how they’re changing our field.
And like you said, I work as — to you I work in workers’ comp, that’s all I do, and there’s no question that they are changing, how our field is going to look in the future.
Judson L. Pierce: Yeah I found it interesting in reading your materials before our show that the Millennials are actually going to be about 50% of the workforce pretty soon and what will that mean for the shape of our workforce in going forward?
Ryan Benharris: Yeah that number is correct. So currently, there’s around 82 million Millennials in the United States right now. A Millennial is defined as anybody that was born between the early 90s and the early 2000, oh I am sorry, late 90s to the early 2000s and so there’s about 82 million of them right now and they are taking over the workforce by numbers.
Just kind of a little bit of a history, the term Millennial was actually coined by these two guys William Strauss and Neil Howe. They are historians or actually were historians, Mr. Strauss has since passed away. But they have written a bunch of books over the last several decades about all of the generations and they wrote this book called ‘Millennials Rising’ back in 2003.
Millennials are also referred to as Generation Y because as you indicated, our generation is Generation X and the natural progression after that would be Generation Y, but they came up with the term Millennials and they coined it as it basically sounds like anybody that was born in and around the turn of the century.
So the word Millennials just sort of stuck. But as far as numbers go, they are there, they’re making up by the year 2020, they will make up more than any other portion of the workforce. By 2020, there’s going to be an expected 42 million workers, that are Millennials in our economy, in the United States economy and that would be more than any other generation that’s out there.
So they are going to be the vast majority of who is in the workforce now.
To respond to your question of how that’s changing things, you really have to look at what Millennials are and what the nature of their characteristics are, and these two guys Strauss and Howe in their book, they talk about Millennials getting seven characteristics personality-wise.
Those seven characteristics they talk about that Millennials are special sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured in achieving and if you break all those things down, they said that they thought that Millennials have — they’ve been raised to believe that they’re special that they are going to change the world, that they’re vital to the nation.
This idea that they’re sheltered comes from the idea that they have grown up in an environment where violence is much more prevalent in the media and in the news and they’re much more cognizant of it. So they have an expectation of safety more heightened than any generation before them.
They tend to be a confident bunch, not uncommon to hear stories of younger workers coming into a workplace where they’re not afraid to immediately be asked to be paid the same salary as the people that have been there for a really long time.
Interestingly, they tend to be team-oriented people. Young workers have been raised on an idea that they prefer to work in groups as opposed to working individually. I told the story in Las Vegas of how my dad growing up was, he was an industrial cleaning chemical salesman and he would go door-to-door, trying to sell truck washes and places like that and do cold calls.
Ryan Benharris: Millennials don’t want to do that, they prefer to work in teams and we’re finding more Millennials looking for team-oriented jobs.
Judson L. Pierce: Right, and you mentioned that they’re interested or thinking about safety and security. Probably, that all got started with the events in 2001 in New York, and Pennsylvania and Washington but that it carries on to the present day with all the almost weekly shootings that we’re experiencing.
Interestingly enough though, they seem to be going into jobs like the Uber jobs or the Lyft jobs a lot of them, which in some ways do not seem like very safe types of jobs. Can you expound on that a little bit about why they’re choosing these sort of rideshare type jobs and I know that’s not the only ones they’re looking to but how that plays in.
Ryan Benharris: Sure. So yeah that that’s a big part of our economy now is and it’s referred to as the gig economy. The gig economy of these jobs that like Uber and Lyft and basically the term comes from the word gig, the musicians would go pickup gigs and get jobs and just get jobs wherever they could go, and they’d go from place to place and pick up whatever job they could get.
And that sort of caught on and now we’re talking about the gig economy and when we talk about that we include jobs like Lyft driving and Uber driving. So those jobs appear to be more attractive to the younger working-class out there. The vast majority of those shared work industries, such as Uber and Lyft, are made up of young males.
55% of those workers in those shared work industries are not just young males, but they are members of racial or ethnic minorities and most of those employees will report that they do it on a part-time basis, not full-time either to supplement work, either doing at other jobs or to try and put themselves through school. Those jobs, yeah, I mean there are a lot of stories and news about the safety of those jobs and how the companies are working to ensure that those – these are the passengers or the drivers themselves are safe.
What’s happening though is the difficulty in the workers’ compensation world is that there are questions in every single state and in every single jurisdiction, whether or not those particular individuals are classified as employees under the terms of their workers’ compensation statute and it is a real gray area; especially, given the fact that they’re working essentially driving a car.
I mean motor vehicle accidents are happening every second of every day and when a motor vehicle accident happens, there is certainly a very good question of whether or not who is covering that driver for workers’ compensation coverage purposes. And that is a big question in basically every single jurisdiction in the United States when you’re discussing workers’ comp at this point.
Judson L. Pierce: Yeah. I mean we’ve seen these cases start to come up in Massachusetts and I’ve noticed that other states are actually, their legislatures are enacting bills to either classify these drivers, it’s independent contractors and therefore not to be availing themselves of the workers’ compensation benefit system or in other states, I think you said New York, might have been a state that has gone the other way and wanting to try to make these drivers employees.
Ryan Benharris: Right. Well and I think from my personal opinion and what I think should be the trend is. First, you have to look at who these workers are and as I indicated, the vast majority of them are young males, the vast majority of these workers are minorities. A lot of them English is not their first language.
So a lot of them don’t truly understand when they get into these jobs what the insurance system is and what is available to cover them. A lot of these employees will be told that they can purchase workers’ compensation coverage on themselves but again, these are part-time jobs and if it’s more expensive, they tend to not do that if they don’t have the money.
The other thing is the general sense around research on these particular jobs is that the average gig economy employees don’t even know if they’re covered under workers’ compensation policy. They’ll be asked if they have workers’ compensation if they’re hurt in an accident and they don’t know the answer to that.
A lot of times they simply for not knowing better, they rely on their car insurance. But almost all car insurance policies, there will be a rider in the policy that will exclude any injuries as a result of using the vehicle as a taxicab. So if these workers are expecting to put any injuries through their car insurance they’re being denied to their surprise.
In my opinion, all of that is wrong. I mean they shouldn’t be classified as independent contractors. First and foremost, Uber and Lyft, they are the agencies that we go to to get these jobs assigned. You can’t be an Uber and Lyft driver without permission from Uber and Lyft. Uber and Lyft tells them where to go. It tells them where to get their customers from. They get their pay from Uber and Lyft.
So this argument by Uber and Lyft that they are not employees of those companies in the classic sense of an employee-employer relationship under workers’ compensation that shouldn’t hold water and workers’ compensation at its core is a social justice program and we are supposed to be out there protecting injured workers and protecting the rights of injured workers.
And for these gig economy companies to have come up with something that is they think is a golden loophole to get away from protecting their workers, that’s really wrong and in my opinion those are the types of people that we should be fighting to protect and we should be going from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction to ensure that they are not deemed independent contractors.
But if we do that, know that we’re up against Uber and Lyft. Where I live here in Massachusetts, I listen to a lot of radio, local radio and you’ll note that Uber advertises all the time on the local radio and their advertisements are very particularly worded. They say things like, do you want to work for yourself? Do you want to make extra money? Do you want to do it on your own time?
What Uber is doing is they’re trying to put that engrain that into the brains of society that the Uber employees don’t work for Uber, they work for themselves and therefore, they’re independent contractors and I think that’s really dangerous.
Judson L. Pierce: It’s a very clever marketing strategy. Is it not and it really goes into the mentality that you were talking about earlier in the psychology of these Millennial men and women who want to be free of the corporate structures that bound their parents and previous generations and sort of go it free and independently like you said.
Ryan Benharris: Right. And that’s a really good point, that’s another characteristic that we’re seeing in Millennial workers is that Millennial workers are changing the way that they go to work and they are changing the face of what we’ve always known as the conventional mom and dad get up in the morning, drop the kids off at school and go to the office sort of work. The Millennial generation is very interested in working remotely and not having to go to a particular fixed place of employment.
A lot of research is finding that Millennials are much more willing to take pay cuts and take cuts on things such as 401(k) plans and future savings to be able to be happier now. And working from home and working remotely is something that we’re seeing much more both for the workers and the employers are looking for ways to change remote work policies.
Studies have shown that employees who work remotely have actually increased productivity over the ones that don’t certainly morale for employees that are able to work either from home or from a remote facility if hire. And most importantly, there’s a joint financial incentives for both parties.
The employee doesn’t have to drive to work, they don’t have to find parking, they don’t have to spend four hours of their day sitting in rush-hour traffic. The employers don’t have to purchase furniture, equipment, office space, and they don’t have to pay for our uniforms and that sort of thing.
So working remotely is something that is getting more and more popular to the point that most industries at this point are starting to look at how they can change the remote work policies to include their industry in remote work situations.
In the last 10 years alone, people working from their home has risen in popularity by 80%. So it is one of the main ways that work in general is changing. People are working remotely and trying to find jobs where they can work from home.
Judson L. Pierce: Well, I want to get further into that topic. Let’s take a break for a message from our sponsors.
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Judson L. Pierce: And we’re back with guest attorney Ryan Benharris. Ryan, before the break, we left off about the topic of working remotely and I’m curious what are the general principles with workers’ compensation coverage for people who do get hurt say in their homes doing remote business?
Ryan Benharris: That’s a really excellent question Jud. Basically, that is coming up all over the place now. This generation, the Generation Y, the Millennials, they are, as I indicated before, they’re trying to work remotely and work from home. Their generation has been deemed what’s called the Cutback Generation.
They’re cutting back on things that we saw when we were younger and our parents were younger as essential parts of society. I mean not spending money on things and one of those things is going to and from work, driving to work, spending money to go places. And interestingly, Millennials are cutting back on other things, I mean, there’s a lot of reports that the marriage rate is drastically declining because Millennials don’t have as much money.
Weddings are fewer and far more between, they’re often cheaper, and there’s other things that they’re cutting back on and the most predominant one is they’re trying to work from home.
We’re seeing situations where people that are working from home in all sorts of industries are getting hurt either working from home or getting hurt at a remote work place, and there’s questions of whether or not there’s coverage for that under workers’ compensation.
Here’s the good news. The good news is that the vast majority of jurisdictions are saying that that should be covered. I don’t think there’s really no jurisdiction that we know of that says, well if you’re not at the jobsite, then you can’t get hurt or if you’re not at the office, you can’t get hurt. So most of the research I’ve done has indicated that jurisdictions and statutes are covering injured workers when they do work remotely in their homes.
What it is creating is a lot of extra work for the insurance industry to go to the employers and really encourage them to create remote work policies in an effort to lower these at-home work related industries. They’re telling the employers to make sure that these employers have ergonomic environment set up in their home or know where your employee is working, know that they’re not working in an unsafe environment.
They’re also trying to make sure that they’re having uniformity in these policies for all of their workers that work at home, so that they can sort of monitor what’s going on in there. The average worker doesn’t think that if they are injured in their own home that it could be a worker’s compensation case. But the reality is that if what they were doing rises out of and in the course of that employment under that particular workers’ compensation statute, then of course, it’s covered. So the employers are forced to look into that to make sure that those injuries are protected.
The other thing is that if you’re working from home and whatever you’re doing in there, if you get hurt or somebody else gets hurt, it’s the same situation where the Uber and Lyft drivers are injured in their own car. A lot of the home insurance policies will ask now if you are doing a work-related thing, while you were injured in your home or while somebody else is injured in your home, because they can find some sort of liability elsewhere as opposed to under your own home insurance policies.
Judson L. Pierce: So is it possible that in some jurisdictions, some states, a worker could be injured while in the course of his or her employment and they’re caught in between and they really have no recourse under the law, because the workers’ compensation insurer is deeming them to be independents and when they try to put it through private means they’re shut off there too.
Ryan Benharris: Yeah. That’s a really scary thought and it is happening. And especially in the situations with not just Uber and Lyft, but Airbnb, which is another sort of one of these shared economy things. Airbnb what that is, you can go online and you can put your house up for to be used as a hotel.
A lot of these places all over the world that is becoming a big source of income for folks who own property in certain places, they rent out a piece of property that they own all year round and then they upkeep it, they maintain it and then someone gets hurt.
So whether it be one of your guests or you yourself, most home insurance policy is much like most automobile policies. There is a rider in the policy that says that if you’re using your home as a hotel, they won’t cover the people that are in there because you’re not supposed to be using your home for commercial policies because as we all learned in law school, there are certain standards of care and duty of care that apply when you are just a homeowner bringing a guest in your house; as opposed to when you’re running a hotel and you’re running, inviting the public in and that is creating a real problem for these people who are having injuries in these situations.
You can do working in your house either repairing something or attending to something as a result of an Airbnb rental and you can be hurt, and the homeowners insurance will then say well, we weren’t expecting, it wasn’t foreseeable that this type of injury could happen.
And therefore, we’re not going to cover you and on top of that, Airbnb who’s a company that you can list your home under, they’re not going to admit that the homeowner that they are listing their property is one of their employees, even though they’re maintaining the property for guests to come and go.
And obviously, that happens more commonly under Uber and Lyft. Car accidents happen all the time and if Uber, Lyft are not deemed the employer and the employee has not taken out a workers’ compensation policy on himself, his car insurance could deny the claim and that would leave that particular individual without any coverage for the accident or for his own personal injuries.
So it is a really scary thought.
Judson L. Pierce: It is scary and what is the avenue for change, if there is going to be people left in the cold so to speak without proper coverage. Is it through the courts that we’re going to see some change happening or perhaps through legislature means and how will Millennials act in either of those arenas, specifically are they political and do they want to get engaged in this fight?
Ryan Benharris: Right, that’s a really good question and I’ll sort of handle the first part of the question first. I believe strongly that — and because I’m a bleeding-heart liberal at heart and because I represent injured workers and that’s all I represent that I believe, the legislation should step in and protect these people.
I believe that every jurisdiction should indicate that these shared work industries in the gig economy that the employees are employees of the company that they are using to get work from.
Now, the good news is that Millennials are very much politically active and more so than the generations before it. Millennials, given their age, tend to be registering has about 40% of Millennials are registering as independent voters. So they are attending to say that they’re right down the middle.
However, the Washington Post indicated last year that 59% of Millennials affiliates the Democratic Party or lean democratically, that’s compared to only 32% of Millennials that lean toward the GOP or identify themselves as Republicans.
As I think we’ve seen in recent political past, the Democratic Party and the independent — the liberal method of thinking is that there should be more social justice programs created to protect those that might have less access to the courts and less access to help.
So I think what that is saying is that Millennials will typically support the notion that the Federal Government or the State Government should be stepping in and ensuring that people are protected if they’re injured at work under the shared work economy.
And if you look toward something that’s pretty similar, Millennials are fighting particularly hard to try and establish that it’s the — it should be the Federal Government’s responsibility to make sure that all Americans have health coverage. Most Millennials or vast majority of Millennials believe that the Federal Government should be taking control as to making sure that everyone has health insurance.
So I think the millennial method of thinking is that it should be that the legislature should be the government that steps in and says, these people work for these companies and they are not independent contractors. And I think that as voters, they would come out in drove to support that opinion.
Judson L. Pierce: Fascinating point there, political activism is likely to be up given the recent events that we’ve seen in elections. But also union membership and seemingly the unions are less strong than they were in previous generations and is that something that the Millennials will have to deal with and combat or say, we need a new style of union here to protect these newer jobs.
Ryan Benharris: Yeah, I think — I don’t know when the union protection seemed to weekend in general. But I don’t think that is a methodology that Millennials would stand by. I think actually the idea that labor unions fighting on behalf of the workers, is something that Millennials would strongly support.
The labor unions that were established in the early 1900s, they were done so to try to bring the workers to the table to have a fair negotiation, to have fair negotiations with the bosses. And that is something that Millennials are certainly interested in. I mean I think we’re all interested in that. The difference is that I think Millennials are more willing to instead come up with as you indicated, a different type of way to do that because I think they’re more likely to want to instead of going to the unions and asking for the conventional benefits, that unions used to negotiate, again 401(k) health insurance premiums that sort of thing.
They would be more likely to negotiate quality of life benefits now, being able to work remotely, have different hours as opposed to Monday through Friday 9:00 to 5:00, they would be more willing to do that and they would be to fight for some of the things that we’ve historically seen in the past.
There will be more Millennials by next year, 2019, the Millennials will outnumber the number of baby boomers in the working industry. I mean the baby boomers are retiring at an alarming rate and the Millennials are coming into the workforce at an even faster rate.
Now the difference is that when the baby boomers came into the workforce, they were very concerned with their retirements and what was going to happen to them at the end of their working lives; whereas Millennials are much more concerned with the amount of debt that they’ve incurred now, as opposed to what will happen at the end of their lives.
Millennials are showing more educational debts than any generation and it’s specifically Millennials in the United States. The Millennials in the United States have this level of educational debt that even people in my generation, in your generation, can’t comprehend. It is not uncommon for Millennials to come out of college and higher education with between a quarter of a million and a half a million dollars in debt.
And the idea that that their working life is going to be anything other than paying off that debt is sort of not in the back of their mind when they’re 20, 25 years old.
Judson L. Pierce: Are they the first generation to have less wealth than the previous generation? Is that a fact?
Ryan Benharris: Yes, and that’s actually an amazing fact that was reported a couple of years ago. Millennials are the first generation in American history based on the amount of debt that they have to be considered poorer than the generation before them or more specifically, the two generations before them.
So Generation Xers and Millennials sort of clumped into that situation where, they’re looking at the amount of debt that they have coming out of college and it is educational debt and that is the number one type of debt that Millennials will cite as to what is their motivational factor to going to work.
And that educational debt puts them at such a deficit and puts them so behind the eight-ball that they really can’t think to do anything else, other than pay off that debt. So they want to be happy in life, they want to live a happy prosperous life, but they want to pay off their debt first because if they can’t pay off their debt, and they can’t step into happiness.
So what we see are Millennials taking steps to be less conventionally happy than the two generations before it. As I indicated before, Millennials are not getting married. The marriage rate has declined steadily and that is specifically because weddings are so expensive.
The average wedding in the United States as of 2016, the average wedding cost $28,000 and Millennials just don’t want to spend.
Judson L. Pierce: Wow.
Ryan Benharris: Yeah that’s crazy. They just don’t want to spend money on that. They’re also not buying houses. The amount of Millennials looking to buy houses has drastically decreased. They just don’t have the money to put down on a house and they’re in the massive amount of debt. Millennials homeownership in particular has dropped 8% lower than Generation X homeownership and baby boomer homeownership.
Homes are more expensive now than they were. I mean how many of us have talked to our grandparents who told us that they paid $2,000 for their first home. And Millennials are looking at their first home costing them, depending on where they want to live anywhere from $50,000 at the cheapest to half a million dollars for a cheap home or an inexpensive a home in a big city.
As a result, there’s not as many — Millennials aren’t having children, they’re delaying childbearing because they’re not getting married somewhat or because they can’t afford to have children. But they — whenever they’re asked about these things, they always say the educational debt. And we see it in even minor aspects of life. Millennials are doing something called cutting the cord, which you’ve probably heard of as far as you know entertainment purposes. They’re canceling cable, they’re not buying cable and instead they’re looking at streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu because they’re cheaper.
And as a result, that has reduced the amount of television that’s being watched in the United States. Classic primetime television on the major phone networks is at an all-time viewing low despite the fact that there’s more televisions and houses in the last 10 years than there ever have been in the history of the United States. And that’s because people are finding cheaper alternatives to even doing that.
Judson L. Pierce: Wow. We’re working from home more, we’re not going to the movies or going out because we have all this educational debt and if we get hurt, we might not be covered. Things aren’t looking too optimistic these days. I guess my fear and I would love for you to end on this, on your response on this Ryan would be if someone is injured while they’re working for under the direction of another and they’re not covered and they have all these debts to specifically school debt to deal with, what is one to do, what are we to do as a society if that is more and more the case?
Ryan Benharris: Well, I think it’s a really, really good question, and I think there’s so many different levels, you can peel back the levels of an onion and figure out where a lot of these problems start. I am a very firm believer in the idea that higher education needs to become more cost effective. There are polemicists out there who are now running on platforms to make college free for people who can’t access it.
I don’t know, I don’t know where the idea begins to hold who is held responsible when colleges and universities are so expensive that the people that are coming out of them are not only unable to afford to go to work but they can’t find work, finding work is as difficult as it’s always been.
I think it’s really important that we change the way that college and higher education is perceived as far as money purposes. I need to make it more cost-effective and we need to have more people coming out of college that are not so crippled by debt that they can’t live their lives.
I feel terribly for these people and I really do and I mean I have debt as well and we all have debt but I can’t imagine working as hard as you can to get through high school, to get through college and your entire life after you get out of there is trying to pay off getting through college or getting through trade school because it was so expensive.
I really believe that that’s where it starts, needs to reduce the cost of higher education and make it more accessible and more affordable to everybody that wants to go there.
Further from that, I truly believe that we need to establish laws to protect employees of the gig economy. We cannot allow corporations, major corporations that are becoming major players in society, such as Uber and Lyft, where they become essential to how people get around and essential to how we function. We can’t let those companies walk in and change the fact that people should be protected from getting hurt at work simply because it makes it easier for those companies to not have to worry about that.
That shouldn’t be a benefit. We shouldn’t be creating employers that can create situations where they don’t have to cover injured workers that are injured on the job. And if the companies aren’t taking care of these people then it’s going to land on society to do it.
If you’re injured at work and your company doesn’t cover you for workers’ compensation, society needs to step in and make sure that that person is taken care of, especially with these gig economy employees, who studies have shown that they don’t have the level of education or knowledge to understand the insurance system and how insurance works.
And we shouldn’t expect it of them to know those things especially when they’re asked whether or not they know if they’re covered under workers’ compensation and they really don’t know the answers of that question. That’s not fair to those people. We as a society have to protect those people. We have to go out and make sure that those people don’t even have to think about whether they’re covered for workers’ compensation that there’s workers’ compensation for those people without them having to worry about taking care of that problem.
Because the reality is if you’re working a job as an Uber driver to put yourself through college and college is already that expensive, you’re going to put yourself even further behind the eight ball if you sustained an injury in that job that’s not covered under workers’ compensation policy because now, you’re going to have your college debt and you’re going to have debt from the accident and that’s a really scary thought.
So I think that there needs to be a lot of work at making sure that we reduce the debt of the young individuals coming out of school and now, we educate the public as to these industries and making sure that the public puts an onus on these industries to make sure that their employees are covered under their workers’ compensation policies.
Judson L. Pierce: Well here, here, and I really want to take this opportunity to thank you Ryan Benharris, attorney in Fall River, Massachusetts and nationwide now as he’s appearing in various states with this very interesting research and presentation on Millennials and the gig economy. Thank you so much for joining us today, Ryan.
Ryan Benharris: Thank you for having me Judd, I really appreciate it.
Judson Pierce: Yeah, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank you, our listeners, for tuning in, in this Thanksgiving Eve edition of Workers Comp Matters.
I’d like to thank our sponsors as well. Case Pacer, the practice management software dedicated to the busy trial attorney. Learn more, go to casepacer.com.
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Please join us for our next show perhaps with the regular host Alan Pierce or perhaps with me if I do take over his chair permanently.
And listeners, please go out and make it a day that matters. Thank you all very much.
Outro: Thanks for listening to Workers Comp Matters today on the Legal Talk Network, hosted by attorney Alan S. Pierce, where we try to make a difference in workers’ comp legal cases for people injured at work. Be sure to listen to other Workers Comp Matters shows on the Legal Talk Network, your only choice for legal talk.
Workers' Comp Matters encompasses all aspects of workers' compensation from cases and benefits to recovery.
John F. Burton, Jr. talks about his career as a workers’ compensation expert, which has spanned over 50 years.
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