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¿ES OBLIGACION LEGAL QUE LOS TESTIGOS AYUDEN A VICTIMAS DE VIOLENCIA?

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Archive: Apr 2016

¿ES OBLIGACION LEGAL QUE LOS TESTIGOS AYUDEN A VICTIMAS DE VIOLENCIA?

 

Artículo 16-18

¡No Se Deje! ®

Dos casos de horrendas violaciones causaron la indignación y cólera del público por  reportes de que quienes  las presenciaron no ayudaron a las víctimas.  En el primer caso, una niña de 15 años fue violada, golpeada y robada por al menos 7 hombres.  El ataque continuó por más de 2 horas.  Se dijo que más de una docena de testigos pasaron por el lugar y no hicieron nada para ayudar.  En el segundo caso, una mujer de 26 años fue violada en una calle pública a plena luz del día mientras dos carros pasaron por el lugar y observaron el ataque pero no hicieron nada para ayudar a la víctima.  Ella dijo que gritó pidiendo ayuda y que varios conductores vieron el ataque.  Finalmente alguien llamó a la policía.  Como resultado de estos y muchos otros casos, el público  se pregunta si por la pasividad y falta de auxilio se puede castigar a los testigos ya sea bajo las leyes civiles o criminales.

 

La ley americana generalmente no impone a los testigos el deber de rescatar o asistir a alguien en peligro a menos que esos mismos testigos hayan creado la condición de peligro.  Puede existir un deber legal de ayudar a alguien cuando hay una relación especial con la víctima.  Los padres y las personas que tienen una relación de cuido de niños, como personal de escuelas y nanas, sí tienen un deber legal de rescatarlos de algún daño.  Otras relaciones que crean un deber legal incluyen: Trabajadores de servicios de Emergencia como policías y personal médico hacia los miembros del público, los servicios de transporte público comunes como trenes, aviones, buses y taxis hacia sus pasajeros, los patrones hacia sus empleados y los cónyuges el uno hacia el otro.  Los estados de Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington y Wisconsin sí tienen leyes que imponen el deber de rescatar a extraños en peligro pero raramente son aplicadas.  Llamar a la policía por ayuda usualmente satisface el requerimiento de asistir a las víctimas.

 

Las personas que toman a su cargo rescatar a alguien en peligro deben hacerlo con un cuidado razonable y en algunos estados ellos mismos pueden ser considerados responsables por lesiones o muerte ocurrida por la negligencia en el intento de rescate.  La mayoría de estados disponen inmunidad de responsabilidad, especialmente para los trabajadores de emergencia. Y, nunca se le requiere a alguien poner en peligro su salud, o la vida para rescatar a alguien más.

 

Un Juez de California dijo “No es apropiado que el gobierno obligue a las personas a ser benevolentes.  Legalmente no puede obligarse a las personas a ceder parte de su libertad para beneficiar a otro, no importa que tan poco sea el sacrificio o que grande sea el beneficio. Debe ser un deber moral, pero esa decisión se deja a la consciencia de cada persona.”

 

Mientras la ley Americana no impone como deber el rescate de alguien, muchos países sí lo hacen como Alemania, Grecia, Italia, Portugal, Rusia, España y otros.  En Francia, los fotógrafos que estaban en la escena del accidente automovilístico que mató a la Princesa Diana estuvieron en peligro de enjuiciamiento por el crimen de “deliberadamente no haberle dado asistencia a una persona en peligro.”  De haber sido encontrados culpables, podrían haber sido enviado a prisión hasta por 5 años y multados con hasta 100,000 Euros ($137,000.00 dólares de EE.UU.).

 

Sin leyes de “Rescate Obligado”, las víctimas solo pueden esperar que los testigos harán lo que moralmente es correcto y les ayuden. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO.

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Do Witnesses Have A Legal Duty To Help Victims of Violence?

Article 16-18

¡No Se Deje!

Two incidents of horrifying rapes caused public outrage and anger at reports that witnesses refused and failed to help the victims.  In the first case, a 15 year old girl was raped, beaten and robbed by at least 7 males.  The attack continued for more than 2 hours.  It was reported that more than a dozen witnesses passed by and did nothing to help.  In the second case, a 26 year old woman was raped on a public street in broad daylight while 2 cars passed by and observed the attack and did nothing to help the victim.  She reported that she screamed for help and that several drivers saw the attack.  Someone eventually called police.  As a result of these and many other cases, the public naturally asks if the passive and unhelpful witnesses can be punished either under Civil or Criminal laws.

 

American law does not generally impose witnesses a duty to rescue or assist someone in peril unless they created the hazardous condition.  And, a legal duty to rescue someone can also exist when there is a special relationship with the victim.  Parents and people who have a supervisory relationship to children, like school personnel and babysitters, do have a legal duty to rescue them from harm.  Other relationships that create legal duties include:  Emergency workers like police and medical personnel to members of the public, common carriers like trains, planes, buses and taxicabs to their passengers, employers to their employees and spouses to each other.  The states of Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin do have laws that impose a duty to rescue strangers in peril but they are rarely enforced.  Calling the police for help usually satisfies the requirement to assist victims.

 

People who undertake to rescue someone in peril must do so with reasonable care and in some states can be held liable for injuries or death caused by a negligent rescue attempt.  Most states provide immunity from liability, especially for emergency workers.  And, no one is ever required to endanger his health or life to rescue someone.

 

One California Judge said “It is not proper for government to force people to be benevolent.  Individuals cannot legally be forced to give up some liberty to benefit another, no matter how little the cost or great the benefit.  There may be a moral duty, but that decision is left to each person’s conscience.”

 

While American law does not impose a duty to rescue, many countries do.  Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Spain and many others have such laws.  In France, photographers at the scene of the auto accident that killed Princes Diana were in danger of prosecution for the crime of “deliberately failing to provide assistance to a person in danger.”  If convicted, they could have been sent to prison for up to 5 years and fined up to 100,000 Euros ($112,670.00 USD).

 

Without “Duty to Rescue” laws, victims can only hope that bystanders who witness their peril will do what is morally right and help them. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

Jess J. Araujo, Esq.

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Workers’ Compensation and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Coping with a serious medical problem is one of life’s biggest challenges. The stress is magnified when the illness or injury impedes a person’s ability to work. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects some categories of employees in the event of a medical or family emergency requiring a leave of absence.

For up to twelve weeks, employees can take unpaid leave while maintaining health benefits. FMLA also protects the employees’ right to return to the position; employers cannot be fired or laid off during an FMLA absence. In the case of a medical issue caused by a workplace injury, employees may wonder how FMLA will affect workers’ compensation benefits.

Overview of FMLA

FMLA exists to preserve a worker’s health benefits and provide job protection in the event of a personal or family medical issue or event. For employees to be eligible for FMLA, they must work for an employer who provides FMLA coverage. All public sector entities–state, federal, and local government agencies as well as schools–are required to provide FMLA. Some private sector employers, such as those who employ more than 50 employees, are also obligated.

Not all employees are qualified for FMLA. The law calls workers eligible when they have worked for the employer:

  • For a minimum of 12 months
  • Had at least 1,250 hours in the year before FMLA leave
  • Were at a location that employs more than 50 people or at a location within 75 miles of a site that employs more than 50 people

Situations that may be covered by FMLA include:

  • If an employee cannot work due to a severe illness or injury
  • The birth and care of a child
  • To care for an ill or injured member of the employee’s immediate family

FMLA and Workers’ Compensation

When a worker is injured on the job, FMLA can complicate workers’ compensation claims. Employers often prefer a worker take FMLA leave because this option costs less for the employer. Under FMLA, employers do not have to pay a worker’s wages. Workers’ compensation, however, dictates that an injured worker must be paid a percentage of his or her regular wages while unable to work.

In cases where FMLA and workers’ compensation benefits both apply, however, an employer cannot require that an employee use FMLA instead of workers’ compensation benefits. When a worker is qualified for both FMLA and workers’ compensation, employers must provide time off under whichever will give the employee the most comprehensive rights and benefits.

It is also crucial for employees to be informed about how workers’ comp and FMLA can run concurrently. In some situations, workers’ comp benefits can count toward an employee’s protected FMLA leave, leaving the employee with less FMLA leave. Employers are required to inform employees in writing if they will be counting time off under workers’ comp toward FMLA.

What to Do if Your Job Causes an Illness or Injury

If you have sustained an injury or illness on the job, you may have questions about the best course of action to protect your earning potential. Unfortunately, employers are sometimes looking out for their own best interests more than yours. If your employer has indicated that you are required to take FMLA for a work-related medical condition or has not explained your rights and benefits, seek legal advice from a law firm that specializes in workers’ compensation claims.

DiMarco Araujo Montevideo is one of southern California’s most experienced law firms with over thirty years of experience in workers’ compensation law. Contact our team of Orange County workers’ compensation attorneys today to discuss your case for free, or call us at (714) 783-2205.

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How Social Media Can Impact Workers’ Compensation Claims

In recent years, many people have become comfortable discussing their personal life events in the semi-public arena of social media. Most of us do not think twice about commenting about a work event on Facebook, Twitter, or other social forums. Unfortunately, most people don’t always consider the impact of discussing private or work related issues on social media.

In the case of an injury at work, social media can become a significant liability if a person needs to make a workers’ comp claim. Employers may use any information you post to try to deny your claim, even if it does not pertain to your workplace injury. For instance, if you claimed an injury then post about ice skating the next day, the defendant may use it against you. Protect your rights by learning the ways employers and insurance companies can use social media information against you.

Social Media Can Help (or Hinder) Your Claim

In some instances, social media can actually help a workers’ compensation claim by verifying the details of your situation. For example, some insurance investigators may use Facebook profiles or similar social media information to corroborate elements of the situation, such as confirming a timeline of the injury, the details of the incident, or verifying the person’s disability status.

Unfortunately, it has also become common practice for employers to review a worker’s social media accounts to look for evidence that could be used to deny a workers’ comp claim. Common tactics may include reviewing the times and locations of photographs that are at odds with the employees claim of injury or disability or the purported timeline of events.

There have been several notable instances in which workers’ comp claims were denied because photographs or other social media posts indicated that the supposedly disabled person was engaging in activities that would be impossible to perform with a disability. One prominent case involved a package handler who, despite an alleged injury, posted his bowling scores on social media. This aroused the insurance company’s suspicions. They proceeded to investigate the employee and eventually took him to court.

What’s Legal?

It may seem as though social media should not be considered admissible evidence for legal proceedings. This is not the case, however. According to the American Bar Association, evidence gathered through social media is more or less the same as evidence gathered by any other means. While the court may consider the relevance of this evidence to the case and the details of its collection, the fact that it came through social media does not negate its legal viability.

In fact, many lawyers now consider social media to be a primary source of information. The court may use social media posts to examine a person’s character, even if the posts are not recent. Because anything posted on social media technically belongs to the social media outlet, anything may be considered public information, even if a user has his or her account set to private.

How to Proceed if Your Worker’s Comp Claim Is Denied

If your workers’ compensation claim is denied on the basis of a social media post or for other reasons, you still have options. Obtain legal counsel immediately. Look for a firm that has proven experience resolving workers’ compensation claims to get the best help for your situation. Additionally, ensure your choice of attorney understands the complex implications of the new digital age.

Attorneys at DiMarco Araujo Montevideo have more than 30 years of experience in workers’ comp law. Contact us today for a free consultation, or call us at (714) 783-2205. We are available 24/7 and ready to help you get the settlement you deserve.

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Best and Worst States for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Workers compensation benefits are supposed to provide medical coverage and lost wages when a worker is injured on the job. Workers’ comp benefits are not all created equal, however. In fact, these programs vary widely from state to state, leaving some workers less protected than others.

Factors in Ranking Workers’ Comp Benefits

Ranking workers’ comp benefits requires considering several contributing factors:

  • Waiting periods. After a person has been injured on the job, most states prescribe a mandatory waiting period before the person can file a claim for disability benefits. The waiting period varies from three to seven days depending on the state. For injured workers, a longer waiting period can affect the quality of care received and increase financial and emotional stress.
  • Duration of temporary complete disability benefits. For workers who are completely disabled temporarily, each state sets a limit to the amount of time they can receive total disability benefits. The amount of time can range from almost 20 years in Wisconsin to only 2 years in Minnesota and Texas.
  • Duration of permanent partial disability assistance. Continuing support of a partial permanent disability is particularly unequal. State maximums range from 156 weeks to 1,000 weeks.
  • Amount of wage replacement payment. One of the most important considerations in the quality of workers’ comp benefits is the amount an employer is required to pay to replace a worker’s wages. This amount is typically a percentage of the person’s normal pay and can range from 80% to 66%. Along with the percentage, most states set a limit for weekly payments.

Best States

  • Iowa. With the shortest waiting period (three days) before a claim can be filed and the highest maximum weekly payment of $1,628, Iowa tops the list of best states for workers’ comp.
  • Alaska. With 80% wage replacement, the highest in the United States, and a high weekly maximum payment of more than $1,200 for new claims in 2016, Alaska is a worker-friendly state.
  • Wisconsin. Both temporary and permanent disability benefits in Wisconsin are available for 1,000 weeks, which is more than six times the length allowed in Massachusetts.

Worst States

  • Mississippi. With a weekly maximum payment at only $468.63, less than a third of Iowa’s weekly maximum, Mississippi is the worst state to pursue workers’ comp.
  • Massachusetts. The shortest amount of permanent partial disability, 156 weeks, earns Massachusetts a place at the bottom of the list.
  • Minnesota. Minnesota only allows 104 weeks of temporary complete disability benefits, leaving many workers to cover continuing costs on their own.

How to Proceed if You Are Injured on the Job

No matter what state you are hurt in, it is important to follow certain steps if you are injured on the job to help ensure a successful workers’ comp claim.

  • First, see a medical professional immediately after the injury. Along with providing necessary medical treatment, a doctor’s documentation will support your claim.
  • Before you can file a claim, the law requires you to inform your employer. Some states provide a 30-day statute of limitations, so do this as soon as possible. It is a good idea to notify your employer in writing so you can prove you completed this step.
  • Check your state’s laws, and file a claim within the required amount of time.

If you have questions about workers’ compensation or your claim has been denied, call on a skilled attorney to discuss your benefits. We can explain the legal options at your disposal and ensure you are justly represented. Orange County legal team at DiMarco, Araujo, and Montevideo to request a free consultation, or call us 24/7 at (714) 783-2205.

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SECUESTRAR HIJOS, SERIO CRIMEN DE LOS PADRES

Artículo 16-16

¡No Se Deje! ®

Todos los estados y el gobierno Federal tienen leyes que consideran un serio crimen el secuestro de niños a manos de sus propios padres.  Secuestrar es “Llevarse, retener u ocultar a un niño por parte de un padre u otro miembro de la familia, o su representante, violando los derechos de custodia, incluyendo el derecho de visita, del otro padre o miembro de la familia.”

 

El secuestro de hijos por parte de los padres es un serio problema en este país. Los registros nacionales indican que cada año más de 250,000 niños son secuestrados por sus padres.

 

Para que se halle culpable a un padre o madre de secuestro de un hijo, debe existir una orden jurídica previa a favor de uno de ellos estableciendo los derechos legales particulares de custodia del menor.   Hasta que un juez haya concedido solo a un padre la custodia legal o dado una orden de visita, ambos tienen la autoridad de tomar importantes decisiones tocantes a sus hijos.  Investigadores y expertos en cuidado de menores están de acuerdo que los niños que son secuestrados por sus propios padres sufren un daño emocional extremo y frecuentemente son abusados física y verbalmente, causando daños a largo plazo o permanentes.

 

Desde 1968 todos los estados están obligados a reconocer y hacer que se cumplan las órdenes de visita y custodia de menores emitidas en otros estados.  Esto fue para  que los padres no pudieran violar las órdenes de custodia de un estado con simplemente trasladarse a otro estado.  Las órdenes de custodia de las cortes del estado de nacimiento del menor tienen primacía por si un padre secuestrador busca después una orden de custodia más favorable en un estado diferente.

 

Si un padre cree que el otro padre se llevará al hijo del estado o del país, debe requerir inmediatamente una orden de custodia de emergencia que impondrá inmediatamente una prohibición legal a llevarse al hijo hasta que un juez pueda tomar una decisión sobre la orden formal de custodia y visita.  Esta orden también facilita al padre protegido a pedir que las cortes de otros estados la hagan cumplir, si es necesario.  Y, debería solicitarse inmediatamente una orden de custodia, aún después que el otro padre se ha llevado al hijo, para obtener el beneficio de las leyes Federales contra el secuestro paternal o maternal.

 

La ley protege a las mujeres que se llevan a sus hijos para evitar o cesar la violencia doméstica hacia ellas o sus hijos.  Estas mujeres deberían solicitar inmediatamente una orden de custodia en las cortes del condado o estado a donde se trasladaron.  Esto las protegerá de acusaciones de secuestro que el padre pudiera hacer.  En casos de violencia doméstica, las cortes mantendrán confidencial la nueva dirección de la víctima para evitar contacto o daño del agresor.  Y, las mujeres víctimas que sean indocumentadas podrían calificar para una visa U y hasta para la residencia permanente en EE.UU.

 

El Hague Child Abduction Convention (Convención de La Haya sobre Secuestro de Niños) es un tratado internacional que exige a todos los países firmantes que los niños llevados indebidamente  sean devueltos a sus países de origen.  México y  Estados Unidos han firmado este importante tratado.  El tratado también permite extraditar al padre o madre secuestrador al país donde ocurrió el secuestro.  La ley Federal dispone una multa rígida y hasta 3 años en prisión por secuestrar hijos.  En California, el padre o madre secuestrador puede recibir sentencia de hasta 4 años en prisión y multa de hasta $10,000 o ambos.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

Jess J. Araujo, Abogado

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Parental Kidnapping is a Serious Crime

Article 16-16

¡No Se Deje!

All of the states and the Federal government have laws that make it a serious crime for parents to kidnap their own children.  Kidnapping is “The taking, retention or concealment of a child by a parent or other family member, or their agent, in violation of the custody rights, including the visitation rights, of another parent or family member.”

 

Parental kidnapping is a serious problem in this country.  National records indicate that more than 250,000 children are kidnapped by parents each year.

 

There must be a child custody order to establish a parent’s legal rights in order to find the other parent guilty of parental kidnapping.  Until a judge has granted one parent legal custody or made a visitation order, both parents have the authority to make important decisions regarding their children.  Researchers and child care experts agree that children that are kidnapped by a parent suffer extreme emotional damage and are often subjected to verbal and physical abuse which causes long-term or permanent damage.

 

Since 1968 all of the states are required to recognize and enforce the child custody and visitation orders of other states.  This was done so that parents would not be able to violate custody orders in one state by simply moving to another state.  The custody orders of courts in the child’s home state are given priority if a kidnapping parent later seeks a more favorable custody order in a different state.

 

If a parent believes that the other parent will remove their child from the state or country, an emergency custody order should be requested immediately.  An emergency order will immediately impose a legal prohibition from removing the child until a judge can make a decision regarding a formal custody and visitation order.  This order will also enable the protected parent to have the courts of the other states enforce it, if necessary.  And, a custody order should be requested immediately even after the child has been taken by the other parent to obtain the benefit of Federal laws against parental kidnapping.

 

The law protects women who take their kids to avoid or stop domestic violence to them or the children.  These women should immediately request a custody order in the county or state they move to.  This will protect them from kidnapping charges the other parent may make.  In domestic violence cases, the courts will keep the new address of the victim confidential to avoid contact or harm from the abuser. And, undocumented immigrant victims may qualify for a U-Visa which would grant them permission to work and obtain permanent resident status.

 

The Hague Child Abduction Convention is an international treaty which requires all of the countries that signed it to return wrongfully removed children to their home countries.  Mexico and the United States have both signed this important treaty.  The treaty also allows for the extradition of the kidnapping parent to the country where the kidnapping occurred.  Federal law provides a stiff fine and up to 3 years in prison for kidnapping parents.  In California, parent kidnappers can be sentenced for up to 4 years in prison and fined up to $10,000 or both.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

Jess J. Araujo, Esq.

 

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LA LEY PROTEGE A LA MAYORIA DE EMPLEADOS CONTRA LAS PRUEBAS DEL “DETECTOR DE MENTIRAS”

Article 16-15

¡No Se Deje!

El Decreto Federal de Protección a Empleados contra el Polígrafo (en inglés Employee Polygraph Protection Act -EPPA) fue promulgado para impedir que los patrones exijan a los solicitantes de trabajo y a los empleados a tomar pruebas del “Detector de Mentiras”. Se ha estimado que en los 10 años anteriores a la ley, se exigió injustamente a más de 3 millones de empleados que tomaran pruebas del detector de mentiras (polígrafo). Como resultado, se cree que aproximadamente 300,000 empleados fueron juzgados como “mentirosos” y se les negó empleo o fueron despedidos. El Congreso de EE.UU. aprobó esta ley tras los testimonios de  una mayoría de expertos que están de acuerdo que estas máquinas no miden la verdad o la falsedad de una declaración sino más bien los cambios en la presión sanguínea, la velocidad de la respiración y el grado de transpiración.

 

Bajo el EPPA, los patrones no pueden exigir, solicitar, sugerir, o motivar que un empleado o solicitante de empleo tome ningún tipo de prueba de detector de mentiras.  Los patrones no pueden usar, aceptar, referir, o preguntar sobre los resultados de ninguna prueba de detector de mentiras de un empleado o solicitante de empleo.  Y, los patrones no pueden despedir, disciplinar, discriminar, negar el empleo o una promoción, o amenazar con tomar alguna acción tal contra un empleado o solicitante de empleo, por rehusarse a tomar la prueba del detector de mentiras o por los resultados de alguna de estas pruebas.

 

La prohibición de usar las pruebas del detector de mentiras aplica solamente a los patrones privados.  Los empleados del Gobierno Federal, Estatal, y local (Ciudades y Condados) no están protegidos por el EPPA.  Y, los patrones privados tienen permitido usar las pruebas del detector de mentiras cuando “se sospecha razonablemente que los empleados están involucrados en un incidente en el sitio de trabajo que resulta en pérdidas económicas para el patrón”.  Esto generalmente incluye robo o daño a la propiedad de la compañía.    El empleado puede rehusarse a tomar la prueba, puede cancelar la prueba en cualquier momento, o no aceptar tomar la prueba si él/ella sufre de un problema médico. El patrón debe establecer que el empleado tuvo acceso a la propiedad perdida o dañada.

 

Los examinadores que administran las pruebas del detector de mentiras deben tener licencia en la mayoría de Estados y deben tener una fianza mínima de $50,000 o una póliza de responsabilidad profesional para compensar a cualquier víctima de su negligencia.  Y, antes de la prueba, se debe dar al empleado una declaración escrita explicando los detalles específicos del incidente que es investigado y las razones para sospechar la participación del empleado.

 

Empleados y solicitantes de empleo pueden registrar demandas en Cortes Federales o Estatales contra los patrones que violen la ley.  Los remedios legales disponibles para las víctimas incluyen la reinstalación del trabajo, darles la promoción previamente negada y pagarles los salarios y beneficios perdidos.  Las demandas por violar la EPPA deben ser registradas dentro de los 3 años de la violación.  Y, los patrones que violen esta ley pueden ser multados hasta con $10,000.00

 

Aún los empleados que no son despedidos pueden registrar un reclamo si pueden demostrar que el patrón “usó o se refirió a” los resultados de una prueba de detector de mentiras.  Y, aún si un empleado acepta someterse a una prueba de detector de mentiras en casos de pérdidas económicas, se le debe entregar una lista de las preguntas que se le harán.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

Jess J. Araujo, Abogado

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THE LAW PROTECTS MOST EMPLOYEES FROM “LIE DETECTOR” TESTS

Article 16-15

¡No Se Deje!

The Federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) was enacted to stop employers from requiring job applicants and employees to take “Lie Detector” tests.  It has been estimated that in the 10 years prior to the law, over 3 million employees were unfairly required to take lie detector (polygraph) tests. As a result, it is believed that approximately 300,000 employees were judged as “liars” and denied employment or fired. The U. S. Congress passed this law after testimony by a majority of experts that agree that these machines do not measure the truth or falsity of a statement but rather changes in blood pressure, breath rate, and perspiration rate.

 

Under the EPPA, employers cannot “require, request, suggest, or cause an employee or job applicant to take any type of lie detector test.  Employers cannot use, accept, refer to, or inquire about the results of any lie detector test of an employee or job applicant.  And, employers cannot discharge (fire), discipline, discriminate against, deny employment or promotion to, or threaten to take any such action against an employee or job applicant for refusing to take a lie detector test or for the results of any such test.

 

The prohibition of using lie detector tests applies to private employers only.  Employees of the Federal, State, and local governments (Cities and Counties) are not protected by the EPPA.  And, private employers are permitted to use lie detector tests when “employees are reasonably suspected of being involved in a workplace incident that results in economic loss to the employer”.  This usually involves theft or damage to company property.  The employee can refuse to take the test, can terminate the test at any time, or decline to take the test if he/she suffers from a medical condition. The employer must establish that the employee had access to the missing or damaged property.

 

Examiners that administer the lie detector tests must be licensed in most States and must have a minimum $50,000 bond or professional liability insurance policy to compensate any victims of their negligence.  And, prior to the test, the employee must be given a written statement explaining the specific details of the incident being investigated and the reason that the employee is suspected of involvement.

 

Employees and job applicants can file civil lawsuits in Federal or State Courts against employers that violate the law.  Legal remedies available to victims include reinstatement to the job, given a previously denied promotion and payment of lost wages and benefits.  Lawsuits for violating the EPPA must be filed within 3 years of the violation.  And, employers who violate this law can be fined up to $10,000.00

 

Even employees that are not fired can file a claim if they can prove that the employer “used or referred to” the results of a lie detector test.  And, even if an employee agrees to submit to a lie detector test in cases of economic loss, he must be given a list of the questions that will be asked.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

Jess J. Araujo, Esq.  

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