Investigative Reporters and Editors announced today that the ProPublica and NPR collaboration, “They Got Hurt at Work, Then They Got Deported,” won the IRE Award in the Radio/Audio - Large category.
Reported by ProPublica’s Michael Grabell and NPR correspondent Howard Berkes, the project explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Analyzing state insurance data, the reporters identified Florida’s biggest culprits in the business community. Then they tracked down the workers, across the country and abroad, and convinced them to go on the record with their stories.
“This series exposed the outrageous hypocrisy of Florida employers who are happy using labor from undocumented workers — until those same people try to claim workers compensation benefits they’re entitled to legally,” said IRE Award judges. “The reporters revealed how insurance companies targeted these injured workers for denial of benefits, fraud prosecutions and even deportations. They dove into 14 years’ worth of public records that no one was paying attention to and revealed an obscure loophole in a law that came as a surprise even to legislators.”
Following the piece, Florida legislators pledged to review the workers’ compensation provisions that allowed employers and insurance companies to act like immigration agents. Though the measure did not pass, this year lawmakers also introduced a bill that would have stopped insurance companies from dodging payouts by aiding in the arrest of unauthorized immigrants who are injured on the job.
In addition, the ProPublica and NPR “Lost Mothers” series on maternal mortality in the U.S., by ProPublica’s Nina Martin, Adriana Gallardo and Annie Waldman, as well as NPR correspondent Renee Montage, was an IRE Award finalist in the print/online category.
In the FOIA category, ProPublica’s database of the financial disclosures of hundreds of officials installed across the government by President Trump – a project by Derek Kravitz, Al Shaw, Annie Waldman and Ariana Tobin – was also an IRE Award finalist.
And congratulations to ProPublica Illinois reporter Duaa Eldeib, whose reporting for the Chicago Tribune on the death of toddler Semaj Crosby, won the IRE Award for investigations triggered by breaking news, as well as ProPublica senior reporter and editor Jesse Eisinger, whose book “The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives” was a finalist in the book category.
For a complete list of IRE Award winners, click here.