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How to Prevent Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

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Archive: Feb 2016

How to Prevent Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

In California, employees have the right to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault. An employer should never do anything to prevent workers from filing claims or punishing them afterwards. Even if a claim was denied or considered frivolous, an employer has no right to respond with negative actions.

What Is Workers’ Compensation Retaliation?

Workers’ compensation retaliation is any negative action an employer takes against an employee eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. California Labor Code Section 132a addresses the unlawful retaliation against anyone who has filed or declared an intention to file a workers’ compensation claim. Acts of retaliation may include:

  • Purposefully demoting or transferring a capable employee because he or she was injured or filed a workers’ compensation claim
  • Terminating an employee before he or she had an opportunity to file a claim
  • Terminating an employee because he or she filed a claim
  • Enforcing a reduction in pay that is not in accordance with workers’ compensation laws
  • Disciplining an employee for filing a claim
  • Reducing hours for an hourly employee
  • Intimidating or threatening an injured employee to reduce premium payments
  • Giving unwarranted negative employee reviews

These acts of retaliation are specific and require a strong case to prove. Employees are not automatically untouchable after a workplace injury. An employer may still take legally justified actions against any employee. Both injured employees and witnesses are protected under retaliation laws.

Preventing Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

Employers can take steps to reduce the risk of retaliatory actions with proactive legal oversight. A few of the ways companies can reduce the risk of retaliation claims include:

  • Following workers’ compensation laws, such as posting relevant information in public places and informing employees of their rights
  • Supporting injured workers’ who need to pursue a claim with the proper documentation and resources
  • Consulting legal counsel before taking any potentially adverse action against an injured employee or one who has filed a workers’ compensation claim
  • Keeping detailed records of internal communications as they pertain to the injured worker

Employees can protect their right to workers’ compensation by:

  • Keeping employer communication records
  • Reading up on rights as an injured worker in the state
  • Complying with their employers to the best of their abilities during the claims process
  • Contacting an attorney the moment they run into trouble with a claim or employer actions

Proving Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

An employee or former worker needs more than a bad feeling about an adverse action to prove retaliation. Documentation in the form of emails, letters, and voicemails provide the strongest evidence, but verbal statements can also incriminate an employer. Timing, body language, inconsistent behaviors or mood changes, and falsified evidence can strengthen a retaliation case.

If an employer does not have a supported and firm legal reason for taking action, an employee may pursue retaliation actions. In California, workers’ compensation retaliation is considered a misdemeanor, and proving retaliation may increase an employee’s damages by as much as $10,000. Employees need to file a complaint with the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation within one year of the negative action to make a retaliation claim in California.

Injured employees may not file a lawsuit for workers’ compensation retaliation, but they may file a lawsuit based on other discriminator grounds. An employee may file a lawsuit if the employer’s discrimination violated the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act), or the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

For more information as an employee or employer in a workers’ compensation retaliation action, contact the Orange County work injury attorneys at DiMarco Araujo Montevideo. We can walk you through your legal options and advise your next actions.

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DERECHO A VIVIENDA PARA LAS VICTIMAS DE VIOLENCIA DOMESTICA

Artículo 16-09

¡No Se Deje! ®

 

La violencia doméstica es uno de los problemas sociales más serios y costosos en la sociedad actual.  El National Center for Injury Protection Control (en español Centro Nacional para el Control de la Protección por Lesiones) reportó que 1.3 millones de mujeres al día son víctimas de violencia doméstica.  El Congreso de EE.UU. ha determinado que la violencia doméstica es la causa primaria del desamparo entre las mujeres y que frecuentemente son discriminadas por los caseros.

 

La discriminación de vivienda contra las víctimas de violencia doméstica incluye desalojarlas de sus viviendas y el rechazo a rentarles una.  Los caseros tratan de justificar estos desalojos irracionales diciendo que tienen el compromiso con los otros inquilinos de quitar el origen de la violencia.  Un casero dijo “es más fácil desalojar a la víctima dado que su presencia creó todo el problema”.

 

El Decreto Federal sobre Violencia en Contra de las Mujeres (Federal Violence Against Women Act) dispone una protección muy necesaria para las víctimas de violencia doméstica que viven en Albergues Públicos o en Alojamientos Subsidiados como el Programa Sección 8.  En estos programas, la ley federal prohíbe que las Autoridades de Vivienda desalojen a víctimas de violencia doméstica.  Las víctimas de violencia doméstica que viven en locales privados de renta no están tan bien protegidas.  La mayoría de estados no tiene leyes parecidas que prohíban desalojar a víctimas de violencia doméstica que vivan en  locales privados de renta.  California aún no tiene tal ley aún cuando muchas organizaciones de derechos civiles y derechos de los inquilinos han estado trabajando para que se promulgue una.  Hasta hoy, solo Washington D.C., Illinois, North Carolina, Rhode Island y el Estado de Washington tienen estas leyes.

 

Los abogados de víctimas de violencia doméstica que han sido injustamente desalojadas han tenido alguno éxito usando el Decreto Federal de Alojamiento Justo (Federal Fair Housing Act —FHA) para proteger a sus clientes.  El FHA prohíbe “la discriminación en la venta, renta y financiamiento de una vivienda y otras transacciones relacionadas a la vivienda, que se basen en la raza, color, nacionalidad de origen, religión, sexo, estatus familiar (incluyendo niños menores de 18 años de edad), embarazo o incapacidad”.  Una Corte Federal sentenció en favor de una víctima de violencia doméstica que argumentó que su desalojo constituyó una discriminación ilegal por género bajo el FHA.  El juez decidió que dado que la mayoría de víctimas de violencia doméstica son mujeres, las políticas del casero de desalojar a ambas partes tienen un impacto desigual o efecto discriminatorio en las mujeres lo que constituye una discriminación ilegal por género.

 

California tiene una ley única y favorable  que ayuda a las víctimas de violencia doméstica.  La sección 1946.7 del Código Civil  permite que las víctimas de violencia doméstica cancelen los contratos de arrendamiento de viviendas sin tener que pagar el saldo que se adeuda según el contrato.  La víctima debe notificar al casero por escrito dentro de 60 días, que ella o un miembro de la familia que vive en la casa es víctima de violencia doméstica y que dá por terminado el contrato.  Una copia de la Orden de Restricción o un Reporte de la Policía que indique que el inquilino o familiar fue víctima de violencia doméstica debe agregarse a la carta.  El inquilino debe entonces pagar la renta por 30 días aunque ya no continúe viviendo ahí.  La Línea Nacional de Emergencia por Violencia Doméstica es  1-800-799-7233 y se puede llamar 24 horas al día.  LOS HOMBRES VERDADEROS NO ABUSAN DE LAS MUJERES.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO     

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HOUSING RIGHTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS

Artículo 16-09

¡No Se Deje! ®

Domestic violence is one of the most serious and costly social problems in society today.  The National Center for Injury Protection Control reports that 1.3 million women per day are victims of domestic violence.  The U. S. Congress has determined that domestic violence is the primary cause of homelessness among women and that they are often discriminated against by their landlords.

 

Housing discrimination against domestic violence victims includes eviction from the property and refusal to rent a dwelling to a victim.  Landlords try to justify these irrational evictions by saying that they owe it to the other tenants to remove the cause of the violence.  One landlord was quoted saying “it is easier to evict the victim since her presence created all the problems”.

 

The Federal Violence Against Women Act provides much needed protection for domestic violence victims that live in Public Housing or Subsidized Housing like the Section 8 Program.  In these programs, federal law prohibits the Housing Authority from evicting domestic violence victims.  Domestic violence victims that live in private rental facilities are not so well protected.  Most states do not have similar laws to prohibit evicting domestic violence victims that live in private rental facilities.  California still does not have such a law although many tenant rights and civil rights organizations have been working to enact one.  So far only Washington D.C., Illinois, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Washington State have these laws.

 

Attorneys for domestic violence victims that have been unfairly evicted have had some success by using the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) to protect their clients.  The FHA prohibits “discrimination in the sale, rental, financing of dwellings and other housing related transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under 18), pregnancy or disability”.  A Federal Court recently ruled in favor of a domestic violence victim who argued that evicting her constituted illegal sex discrimination under the FHA.  The judge decided that since most domestic violence victims are women, landlord policies that evict both partners have a disparate impact or discriminatory effect on women which constitutes illegal sex discrimination.

 

California does have one unique and favorable law to help domestic violence victims.  Civil Code section 1946.7 allows victims of domestic violence to cancel a housing lease without having to pay the balance owed under the lease.  The victim must notify the landlord in writing within 60 days, that she or a family member living in the house is the victim of domestic violence and that she is terminating the lease.  A copy of a Restraining Order or a Police Report indicating that the tenant or family member was the victim of domestic violence must be attached to the letter.  The tenant must then pay the rent for 30 days whether or not she continues to live there.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233 and can be called 24 hours a day.  REAL MEN DO NOT ABUSE WOMEN.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ

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Workers’ Compensation: What Happens if I Get Worse After a Settlement?

Injuries can affect individuals in different ways. Sometimes, damages have certain short-term effects that change or worsen as time passes. If you have already settled your workers’ compensation case and are experiencing deteriorating symptoms, there are a few ways you can address your current situation.

Compromise and Release Settlements

If your original settlement is considered a Compromise and Release (C&R) settlement, you may not have the opportunity to reopen the case. The agreement covers all retroactive, present, and future costs associated with the injury in the form of a lump sum payment. As soon as you accept and sign the settlement agreement, you waive your right to reopen the claim.

An injured worker may only reopen this type of settlement in cases of fraud. Employers and insurers are responsible for representing the terms of a settlement in good faith.

Stipulation and Award Settlements

A stipulation and award settlement allows a claimant to accept benefits based on existing disability and medical recommendation. The payout associated with this type of settlement is typically lower than a C&R settlement, but a claimant can reopen and change the terms of the settlement based on new symptoms associated with an old injury. There is a five year statute of limitations (from the date of injury) on reopening an old workers’ compensation case in the state of California.

Filing a New Workers’ Compensation Claim

Depending on the type of symptoms you experience, you may open a new case for specific or cumulative trauma. If another workplace incident or exposure aggravated your symptoms, filing a new workers’ compensation claim may make more sense than trying to reopen or change your existing settlement. Specific trauma injuries typically cover one instance and one set of symptoms. For instance, this might include suffering from broken bones after falling from scaffolding or recovering from a car accident.

Cumulative trauma cases typically involve some type of repetitive injury or a progressive illness, but they may also include specific trauma cases that lead to chronic pain or a new repetitive injury. Since cumulative trauma occurs over time, the experience of the injury or illness often manifests differently. These cases are highly complex and generally treated as new claims.

How to Handle a Deteriorating Workplace Injury

Determining workers’ compensation benefits in the light of worsening conditions can be complicated. For instance, you and your physician will need to determine if the new symptoms are a result of the previous injury or if they qualify as a new injury that happens to affect the same area of the body. Work closely with your treating physician and your attorney to determine the best approach for reopening a case or filing a new workers’ compensation claim.

After an initial settlement, you may run into roadblocks with aggravated symptoms. Your benefits may not cover the costs of additional medical treatment, and you may have to use private health insurance to obtain the medical care you need until you sort out the paperwork for additional workers’ comp benefits.

Finding an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the treatment and support you need. Your attorney can help you find qualified medical care, expedite the workers’ compensation process, and determine the type of medical care your benefits will cover.

Securing Legal Support to Reopen a Workers’ Compensation Claim

When you reopen or pursue a new claim, a workers’ compensation insurer may try to delay or deny your new request. The attorneys at DiMarco Araujo Montevideo are prepared to help you fight for your right to fair benefits after you experience worsening symptoms. Reach out to our office today for a free case evaluation.

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IMMIGRATION JUDGE STOPS DEPORTATION

Article 16-08

¡No Se Deje!

Immigration Officials Violated Immigrants’ Rights

Some time ago Immigration Judge Ashley Tabaddor stopped the deportation case against Gregorio Perez Cruz because agents of IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (ICE) violated his Civil and Constitutional Rights.  Evidence presented to the Judge proved that armed ICE agents illegally prohibited workers from leaving the factory where they worked. They then illegally detained and questioned them.  Federal Rule 8 CFR 287.8(b) prohibits federal agents from conducting arrests without an arrest warrant unless they have a “reasonable suspicion” that a person has committed a crime.  No such “reasonable suspicion” existed in this case.

In that occasion the armed ICE agents detained more than 200 workers and deprived them of food and water for more than 18 hours before they were illegally interrogated.  The immigrant victims included several pregnant women.  The evidence further established that the armed ICE agents did not inform the detained immigrants that they had a right to remain silent (not answer any questions) and to be represented by an attorney. The Judge found that ICE agents improperly arrested all workers, including dozens of U.S. citizens, for being in the country illegally.  Immigration Court rules require the Judge to stop deportation proceedings if government officials violate Federal Regulations in a way that affects the rights of people they arrest.

Mr. Cruz was represented by attorneys of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and attorney Noemi Ramirez.  Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU said “We are pleased that the Judge recognized the coercive and illegal tactics immigration officials used in carrying out this work site raid.  This decision sends a strong message to immigration officials that they must not violate their own policy governing the rights of detainees and they cannot use intimidation and other illegal tactics when conducting enforcement operations.”   The ACLU and other Civil and Immigrant Rights organizations filed a lawsuit against ICE immediately after this raid because the immigrants’ attorneys were not being allowed to accompany their clients during questioning. ICE later agreed that the immigrants had a legal right to have their attorneys present during questioning.

Many of the other immigrant workers illegally arrested and detained in this raid were represented by attorneys from other important Civil Rights and Immigrant Rights organizations. These include:

National Lawyers Guild, American Immigration Lawyer Association, Coalition for Humane Immigrants’ Rights of Los Angeles, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, National Immigration Law Center, and the Central American Resource Center.

This and many other cases demonstrate that undocumented immigrants do have legal and Constitutional rights.  It also shows that Judges can and do respect and enforce these rights if properly and effectively presented in our courts.  Unfortunately, this case also established that Immigration Officials did aggressively violate many rights of many immigrants and even some U.S. citizens.  Always seek immediate assistance from an experienced attorney if you are involved in any legal dispute.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ. 

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JUEZ DE INMIGRACION SUSPENDE DEPORTACION

Artículo 16-08

¡No Se Deje! ®

Funcionarios de Inmigración Violaron Derechos de los Inmigrantes

Hace algún tiempo la Juez de Inmigración, Ashley Tabaddor, suspendió el caso de deportación contra Gregorio Pérez Cruz porque  agentes de IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT-ICE (en español Agencia de Inmigración y Aduanas) violaron sus Derechos Civiles y Constitucionales.  La evidencia presentada a la Juez demostró que agentes armados de ICE ilegalmente prohibieron que los trabajadores salieran de la fábrica donde trabajaban. Luego, ilegalmente los arrestaron y los interrogaron.  La Regla Federal 8 CFR 287.8(b) prohíbe a los agentes federales conducir arrestos sin una orden judicial a menos que tengan una “sospecha razonable” que la persona ha cometido un crimen. No existía tal “sospecha razonable” en este caso.

En esa ocasión los agentes armados de ICE detuvieron a más de 200 trabajadores y los privaron de alimento y agua por más de 18 horas antes de ser ilegalmente interrogados.  Las víctimas inmigrantes incluían a varias mujeres embarazadas.  La evidencia demostró además que los agentes armados de ICE  no informaron a los inmigrantes detenidos que tenían derecho a permanecer callados (no responder a ninguna pregunta) y a ser representados por un abogado. La juez encontró que los agentes de ICE impropiamente arrestaron a todos los trabajadores, incluyendo a docenas de ciudadanos de EE.UU. por estar ilegalmente en el país. Reglas Judiciales de Inmigración exigen que el Juez suspenda los procedimientos de deportación si los funcionarios del gobierno violan las Regulaciones Federales de una manera que afecte los derechos de las personas que arrestan.

El Sr. Cruz fue representado por abogados de ACLU-American Civil Liberties Union (en español Unión Americana de Libertades Civiles) y por la abogada Noemi Ramirez.  Ahilan Arulanantham de  ACLU dijo “Nos da gusto que la Juez reconociera las tácticas coercitivas e ilegales que los agentes de inmigración utilizaron al llevar a cabo esta redada en el sitio de trabajo.  Esta decisión envía un fuerte mensaje a los funcionarios de inmigración que no deben violar su propia política que gobierna los derechos de los detenidos y no pueden usar la intimidación y otras tácticas ilegales cuando conducen operaciones para aplicar la ley.”   El ACLU y otras organizaciones de Derechos Civiles e Inmigración registraron una demanda contra ICE inmediatamente después de esta redada porque no les estaban permitiendo a los abogados acompañar a sus clientes durante el interrogatorio. ICE después aceptó que los inmigrantes tenían el derecho legal a tener a sus abogados presentes durante el interrogatorio.

Muchos de los otros trabajadores inmigrantes ilegalmente arrestados y detenidos en esta redada fueron representados por abogados de otras organizaciones de Derechos Civiles de los Inmigrantes. Estas incluyen: El National Lawyers Guild, (en español Gremio Nacional de Abogados); American Immigration Lawyers Association, (Asociacion Americana de Abogados de Inmigración); Coalition for Humane Immigrants’ Rights of Los Angeles, (Coalición de Los Angeles de Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes); Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, (Centro para los Derechos Humanos y Ley Constitucional);  National Immigration Law Center (Centro Nacional sobre Ley de Inmigración); y Central American Resource Center (el Centro de Recursos Centro Americano).

Este y muchos otros casos demuestran que los inmigrantes indocumentados sí tienen derechos legales y constitucionales.  Esto también demuestra que los Jueces sí respetan y pueden hacer valer estos derechos si están efectivamente presentados en nuestras cortes.  Lamentablemente, este caso también dejó claro que los Funcionarios de Inmigración sí violaron agresivamente muchos derechos  de tantos inmigrantes y aún de algunos ciudadanos de EE.UU.  Siempre busque asistencia inmediata de abogados experimentados si usted se encuentra en alguna disputa legal.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO. 

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People Who Owe Money Have Rights And Protection

Article 16-07

¡No Se Deje!

History has shown us that when the economy of this country is bad, creditors and their collection agencies become very aggressive.  When their income drops from normal business activities, they try to make it up by going after past customers that still owe them money.  Many desperate business owners hire collection agencies to help them make the debtors pay.  Because collection agencies are usually paid a percentage of the amounts they collect, collection agents have a strong incentive to do whatever they can to increase collection amounts.  After years of documenting extremely abusive and unfair collection tactics and methods, the federal government and all states enacted laws to protect “Consumer Debtors.”  Consumer Debtors are defined as a natural person (not a business) who owes money for property, services or money on credit for personal, family or household purposes.

 

THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION LAWS PROVIDE THAT:

 

Collection agents must truthfully inform the debtor during the first contact that the purpose of the call or letter is to collect money and must identify themselves and the creditor and collection agency they work for.  Debtors must be told that they have the right to dispute the claimed debt and to receive written verification that the debt is owed.  Debtors have the right to stop collection agents from contacting them or to limit the days, times, and places where they will allow contact.   If the first contact was a telephone call, the collection agency must provide a written verification within 5 days which includes the basis for the claimed debt and the amount owed.  If this is done, the debtor must respond in writing within 30 days or the collection agency will assume that the money is owed.  A letter from the debtor that states “I dispute the debt” is sufficient.

 

If the person disputes the debt, or the collection agency determines that he/she does not owe the claimed debt, the collection agency must inform the credit bureaus.  Creditors cannot misrepresent themselves to be employees of a court, of the government, or of a credit reporting bureau.  And creditors and collection agencies cannot threaten to sue or report debtors to a credit reporting bureau unless they truly intend to do so.  It is illegal to use or threaten to use physical force, or to have the debtor arrested.  It is illegal to defame debtors and to use profanity or to harass them. Harassment includes rude, nasty or abusive actions and statements. And it is illegal to threaten to have debtors deported if they do not pay.

 

Debtors have the right to sue creditors and collection agencies that violate these laws.  The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in these types of cases is one year.  Debtors who prove their cases can get money damages, civil penalties up to $1000 dollars and have their attorneys fees paid.  Collection agencies are prohibited from contacting debtors that have attorneys.  Do not provide information to debt collectors.  Insist that they provide information to you.  Do not be intimidated by them.  You have many rights. Use them with confidence. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

Jess J. Araujo, Esq.

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DERECHOS Y PROTECCIÓN PARA QUIENES TIENEN DEUDAS

 Artículo 16-07

¡No Se Deje! ®

La historia nos ha mostrado que cuando la economía de este país anda mal, los acreedores y sus agencias de cobro se vuelven muy agresivos.  Cuando sus ingresos por actividades comerciales normales disminuyen, tratan de reponerlos  persiguiendo a los clientes antiguos que todavía les deben dinero.  Muchos propietarios de negocios contratan agencias de cobro para hacer que sus deudores les paguen.  Debido a que las agencias de cobro generalmente obtienen un porcentaje de las cantidades que recuperan, los agentes de recuperación tienen un incentivo muy fuerte para hacer lo que puedan para incrementar las cantidades que recuperan.  Después de años de documentar tácticas y métodos de cobro extremadamente abusivos e injustos, el gobierno federal de este país y todos los Estados aprobaron leyes para proteger a los “Consumidores Deudores” a quienes se define como una persona natural (no-empresa) que debe dinero por objetos, servicios a crédito, por razones personales, familiares o para el hogar.

 

LAS LEYES DE COBRANZA JUSTA DE DEUDAS DISPONE QUE:

 

Los agentes de recuperación deben informar debidamente al deudor durante el primer contacto que el propósito de la llamada o carta es para cobrarles dinero y deben identificarse personalmente así como al acreedor y la agencia de cobro para la que trabajan.  A los deudores se les debe decir que tienen derecho a disputar la deuda reclamada y a recibir una verificación escrita de que la deuda aún está pendiente.   Los deudores tienen el derecho de exigir que los agentes de recuperación dejen de llamarlos por completo o de limitar los días, horas, y lugares donde permitirán ser contactados.   Si el primer contacto fue una llamada telefónica, la agencia de cobro debe proveer una verificación escrita dentro de 5 días que mencione las bases para la deuda reclamada y la cantidad pendiente.  Si se hace esto, el deudor debe responder por escrito dentro de 30 días o la agencia de cobro asumirá que se debe el dinero.  Es suficiente que la carta del deudor diga simplemente “I dispute the debt” (yo disputo la deuda).

 

Si la persona disputa la deuda o la agencia de cobro determina que no se debe el dinero reclamado, la agencia de cobro debe notificar a las oficinas de crédito. Los acreedores no deben identificarse con mentiras diciendo que son empleados de una corte, del gobierno, o de una agencia de reportes de crédito.  Y los acreedores y agencias de cobro no pueden amenazar con demandar o reportar a los deudores a una agencia de reportes de crédito a menos que verdaderamente intenten hacerlo.  Es ilícito utilizar o amenazar con utilizar la fuerza física, o causar el arresto del deudor. Es ilícito difamar a los deudores y utilizar profanidades o acosarlos. El acoso incluye, acciones y declaraciones rudas, desagradables o abusivas. Además es ilícito amenazar con deportar a los deudores si no pagan.

 

Los deudores tienen el derecho a demandar a sus acreedores y a las agencias de cobro que violan estas leyes.  El plazo máximo para registrar una demanda en este tipo de casos es de un año. Los deudores que comprueben sus casos pueden obtener dinero por daños, sanciones civiles de hasta $1,000 dólares y que les paguen los honorarios de sus abogados.  Las agencias de cobro tienen prohibido contactar a los deudores que tienen abogado.  No dé información a los cobradores de deudas.  Insista en que ellos le den información a usted. No se deje intimidar por ellos. Usted tiene muchos derechos. Uselos con confianza.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

 

Jess. J. Araujo, Abogado

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What You Should Know About I2P2

I2P2 has been mentioned in workplace safety organizations since its introduction in 2010. According to the articles around that time, the federal program would completely change OSHA enforcement capabilities and significantly enhance workplace safety. Instead of bringing about widespread change in the workplace, I2P2 has lurked in the background, leaving many business owners wondering what they should do. Here’s what you need to know in 2016.

What’s I2P2?

If you haven’t heard the term before, I2P2 is the acronym for the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). During President Obama’s first administration, program momentum was strong, and OSHA held several meetings to create a plan for the new program. However, its energy significantly slowed during the 2012 election season. In 2013, OSHA rebranded the program as a number one priority. Now, three years later, there’s still no clear time frame for program enactment.

What Does That Mean for Businesses?

Although there isn’t a federal standard currently in place, OSHA still has I2P2 implementation on its agenda. Developing strong workplace health and safety policies promotes state and federal compliance and reduces the overall risk associated with workplace incidents. In other words, policy development at the company level makes a lot of sense for every business. The state of California requires all businesses, regardless of size, to have an effective program in place. Maintaining compliance at the state level will improve your company’s ability to protect itself from future federal changes.

The state Department of Industrial Relations offers a free eTool for businesses needing to develop or update their IIPP. Effective policies include outlined procedures for all standard IIPP requirements.

What Do IIPP’s Include?

Your IIPP should include eight required policies regarding the chain of responsibility, compliance, hazards, communication protocols, accident and exposure incident investigations, hazard mitigation, training, and record keeping. Policies should include information for all levels of employees, specifically relate to your workplace environment, and offer a demonstrable process for effective training.

To remain in compliance with state regulations, a business must have a written policy, put it into practice, and update it on a regular basis. While the state doesn’t have a standard for the creation of an IIPP, it does reserve the right to assess a civil penalty on businesses that don’t maintain an effective program.

Do I Need an Attorney to Develop a Successful IIPP?

Businesses can develop an IIPP on their own, but you should consider having an attorney help you write or review your program. Once a policy is put in place, it becomes a kind of contract similar to an employee handbook. If you include rules and procedures you can’t maintain in practice, you could face a costly citation and investigation from Cal/OSHA.

An attorney can improve your ability to craft an IIPP that keeps your business in compliance with state standards while reducing the risk of breaking your own policy. If you do have additional policies regarding workplace health and safety, your attorney may instruct you to create an internal separate from your state mandated IIPP.

Is HIPP Different From IIPP?

Yes. HIPP (Heat Illness Prevention Program) is a program specifically designed for businesses involved in outdoor activities. If your enterprise falls into this category, you may need to develop an HIPP and an IIPP.

If you need to develop an IIPP, update an old program, or appeal a Cal/OSHA citation, the team at DiMarco Arujo Montevideo can help. The laws regarding IIPP compliance at the state and federal level can be confusing, and fines for noncompliance can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

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ADULT ADOPTIONS CAN PROVIDE IMPORTANT BENEFITS

Article 16-06

¡No Se Deje!

The vast majority of adoptions involve minor children.  Most of these involve stepparent adoptions.  Unless a stepparent adopts his spouse’s child, he has no legal obligation or responsibility toward that child.  And, without an adoption, the child has no right to inherit from the stepparent, and neither has the legal authority to make medical decisions for the other.  Sometimes, stepparents have to wait until the stepchild becomes an adult because the natural parent will not consent to the adoption while the child is a minor.    Adopted children, minors or adults, have the same legal rights as biological children.

 

Historically, mature people that were unable to have children would adopt adults to continue the family name.  The adoption also allowed them to pass their property by inheritance without a legal process or paying taxes, to someone they had chosen instead of allowing it to go to the state when they died.

 

In California, adult adoptions are regulated by the California Family Code.  The law requires the adoptive parent and the adult adoptee to sign a written Adoption Agreement.  The agreement formally creates a legal parent-child relationship with all of the rights, duties, benefits and obligations of that relationship. If the adoptee is an adult, he or she can annul or terminate the adoption by filing a petition in court and notifying the adoptive parent.  The adult adoption petition must include the following information:

 

  • The length and nature of the relationship;
  • The degree of kinship, if any;
  • The reason the adoption is desired;
  • How the adoption would be in the best interest of the adopting parent, the adult adoptee, and the public;
  • The names and addresses of any living birth parents or adult children of the adult adoptee.

 

Legal adoption terminates the duties, obligations, and responsibilities of the birth parents, except where an adult is adopted by the spouse of a birth parent.  In that case, the rights of the birth parent are not affected by the adoption.  For this reason, some women choose to delay the stepparent adoption until the child reaches his eighteenth birthday.  If the mother has obtained a child support order against the child’s father, his obligation to pay will continue until the child is 18 years old.    When the child turns 18, the biological father’s obligation to pay ends, unless the child is a full time student.

 

Adult adoptions do not provide immigration benefits since children must be adopted before the age of sixteen and must have resided with the adopting parent for at least two years.  A stepparent can immigrate a stepchild, even without an adoption, if the marriage creating the relationship occurs before the child is 18 years old and the child remains unmarried.

 

If you or someone you know, is considering adopting either a minor or an adult, I strongly recommend that you discuss the decision with an attorney that specializes in family law before actually filing the petition.    Always use every benefit the law provides and ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

Jess J. Araujo, Esq.

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