While portraying Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live she might have been able to see Russia from her house, but the actions of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board have indicated when it comes to protecting her employees, actress and comedian Tina Fey might not be able to see the forest for the trees. 

According to court records, the New York WCB has filed a $79,000 judgment against Fey, alleging that she failed to carry required workers’ compensation insurance. The action, which was filed with the State Supreme Court, appears to be issued against her personally and not her television production company. It did not disclose the reasons for the action; however, for the novice investigator, there are some tantalizing clues.

The affidavit filed with the court confirms this is the result of an ongoing process, as it informs the court that all “Appeals before the Board have been exhausted”. Furthermore, I note that the paperwork indicates failed attempts to collect this amount, saying, “demand for the payment of the sum of $79,000, representing Awards and Penalties having been made against the above captured Defendant(s), after due notice, having defaulted in the payment thereof, except the sum of $0.00, leaving $79,000.00 due and payable.” Finally, I reference page 3 of the filing, that Fey is instructed to make checks payable to the “Uninsured Employers Fund”.

Uh oh. Sounds like a minion got hurt on the job. Oh well, at certain levels of high and important society, I suppose that is what minions are for.

While payment to the UEF appears to be standard protocol for these actions, it does provide for speculation that perhaps a domestic worker was injured, filed a claim, no insurance was available for them, and the employer has thus far failed to accept responsibility. While that is pure speculation, it is a possible, even likely scenario that would bring this situation to light. 

Fey, who in addition to having a successful television writing and acting career, is also author of her own memoir, “Bossypants”. There is no confirmation to rumors that a follow up tome, tentatively titled “Uninsured Bossypants” is in the works. Those who have worked with her in the past hold her in very high regard. Saturday Night Live Producer Lorne Michaels once said of her, “There is a group of people who feel Tina can do no wrong in my eyes. But that’s because she’s just wrong less often than other people.” That is a statement that might now need a bit of revision. The New York Workers’ Compensation Boards actions may indicate there is a distinct difference between working with her versus working for her. 

Fey is a well known liberal, and for a lowly conservative troglodyte such as myself this story is ripe for speculation and open mockery. She has been a vocal opponent of the Republican Party and conservative positions, and offers a great deal of workplace advice for women in her book Bossypants. Too bad that advice didn’t include making sure you worked for a responsible employer who follows the law to protect their employees. 

I bet Sarah Palin carries insurance on her domestic workers, even if she can’t see Russia from her house. I expect she also pays her bills.

While we admittedly lack details on this case, the actions of the NY WCB tell us that someone did not likely follow the rules that the rest of us are required to follow. While we, the great unwashed slog through our mundane and workaday lives, it is comforting to know that those “above us”, the intellectual luminaries that exist merely to enlighten, entertain, and lead us out of our prodigious ignorance, must follow the same vexatious laws and regulations. After all, their disposable minions are people too.

Even Sarah Palin can probably see that. 

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