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Comp Laude® Award Winner

Employer Finalists:
Stater Brothers
Marz Farms
Scripps Health
Schools Insurance Authority
University of California
Safehold Special Risks (formerly Wells Fargo Ski Program)
The Cheescake Factory

and the winner is?

Marz Farms
Audelio Martinez has been growing berries with his brother Renato Martinez since 1995. These business partners got their start growing for Driscoll?s, but their farming "roots" go much deeper. Both brothers herald from a farming family in Mexico, so tending the land has always been a part of daily life.

Audelio and his brother choose to grow for Driscoll?s because they treat their growers as partners and have everyone?s best interest at heart. The Martinez brothers learned from that and have crafted their own mission statement. Audelio says: "My philosophy is to treat all employees with respect, as if they are members of your own family."

That philosophy filters down to when a worker gets injured on the job. Marz Farms goes above and beyond with respect to the care of their injured employees. This employer has approximately 2,500 employees doing -- on the whole -- difficult, field work.

Recognizing the critical importance of their human capital, this employer has taken several notable steps to focus on this key resource. Marz' leadership has hired three employee advocates who serve in an ombudsman-type role. These individuals have no other function besides regular communication with employees, including assessment of their work conditions and any needed care that might lead to a workers? compensation claim.

When a claim does arise, these advocates take the injured worker to the doctor, explain benefits and advocate for full care. It is remarkable for an employer to go so far in assisting employees to make claims and ensure proper care. Furthermore, when claims arise, Marz is aware that treating the injured worker with the utmost care is not only a pathway to recovery of full function, but also to decreasing claims costs through avoidance of litigation and other conflict. Recently, Marz had an employee who suffered a significant eye injury. In many circumstances, an employer might despair of bringing an employee who has lost an eye back to the workplace. But not Marz. Instead, they brought the individual back to work and found a permanent modification in duties that will allow him to be a full-time, productive and contributing member of the workforce and society. Due to Marz' approach, this individual never found the need to engage an attorney on his claim.

In what can be a very difficult claims environment, Marz? open, honest, innovative approach to employee relations - even when that involves a claim - is a wonderful testament to how the system can work for all concerned.