The Videotape is Wrong

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A landscaper from California called me the other day to discuss what appeared to be at first glance, a straightforward workers’ compensation injury. The injured employee reported that in keeping with company protocol, he drove his truck onto an elevated platform that allowed him to easily discard yard waste into a roll-off container located next to the elevated platform. The employee then stated while he was transferring debris from the truck bed into the container, his truck began to slide down the ramp, at which time the employee jumped from the bed of truck onto the ground, landing awkwardly, injuring his back.

Per standard operating procedure, I reminded the landscaper to conduct the erstwhile obligatory investigation, by interviewing the injured employee, any witnesses, etc. The interviews contained unanimous support from five witness verifying the exact testimony offered by the injured employee. Upon hearing those confirmatory reports, I asked the landscaper if there were any surveillance cameras in the yard area that could be included as part of the investigation. He said there was one camera that could be useful, and pledged to review the footage.

Now it gets interesting.

The surveillance camera footage completely refuted all narrative reports from the employees. In specific, the company truck was not on the elevated platform at any time, the injured employee was not in the bed of the truck, the truck did not slide down the ramp, and the injured employee did not jump from the bed of the truck onto the ground at all.

Just for giggles, I asked the landscaper to re-interview the injured employee and the five witnesses to verify their initial testimony. He did, and they did.

After they each affirmed their integrity to what they had seen and reported, the landscaper showed the actual, date-stamped surveillance footage to all of them at the same time. To the landscaper’s complete surprise, the injured employee and four of the five witnesses stuck to their original story and said “the videotape was wrong!”

You can’t make up stuff like this.

A series of terminations predicated on dishonesty, fraud, and impeding the accuracy of a company investigation, was conducted that same day.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.