Workers Comp Insurer Changes Rules for Talent Agents — Attorney

Jan 7, 2009 8:45 AM PST
LOS ANGELES — Adult entertainment talent agents who are insured by State Compensation Insurance Fund and send performers to production sets of uninsured studios might be in for a shock if the porn star gets injured — they could be on the hook for a workers compensation claim.

State Fund, which manages the bulk of employers’ workers comp insurance in California, has changed its policy over workplace responsibility when adult entertainment agents book talent with uninsured production companies, according to adult industry attorney Michael Fattorosi.

Fattorosi told XBIZ that he had a half-hour long conversation with a State Fund underwriter Tuesday that revealed a bombshell over liability when he asked a question involving a new Porn Valley talent agent Fattorosi represents.

“State Fund told me that they feel there is a problem in the adult entertainment industry over injuries suffered on the set, and that someone has got to cover the performers,” Fattorosi said. “They are basically saying that the adult industry needs to police itself in regards to workers compensation insurance.

“It appears that they are taking the position that if an agent does not check whether a production company is insured, that agent can ultimately be responsible for benefits if that performer suffers an injury on set. This is a radical departure since it has been commonly believed that performers were not employees of the talent agencies."

Fattorosi said that in order for agents based in California to be “legal,” they must be licensed and bonded by the state of California, as well as covered under a workers comp insurance policy.

According to the Labor Code, every employer in the state of California must carry workers compensation insurance. Failure to do so is a criminal offense.

For adult performers, workplace injuries run the gamut, from simple trip-and-falls to contraction of STDs, including HIV infection.

In the past, Cal-OSHA has conducted periodic spot checks on the set over workers comp insurance, and the state’s Department of Industrial Relations can shut down a porn set and could fine the company $1,000 per day, per performer, until it can prove it has workers comp policies.

XBIZ was unable to obtain comment from State Fund chief public information officer Patrick Anderson over apparent changes to the insurer’s policies, but Fattorosi said that its new rule could spread to other workers comp insurance companies that insure employers, including production companies and talent agents within the state.

“I’d expect all of them to adopt this rule,” Fattorosi said. State Fund can also assess fines and or penalties against their insureds that under report payroll. They are now expecting agents to report the earnings the performers make as a part of their payroll so SCIF can adjust insurance premiums for those agents.

“Ultimately I can see this costing the agents a lot of money in premium dollars," Fattorosi added.

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