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What is important to most people when they think about their job? Comfort and happiness are big parts of it, but when it comes to practicality, the things people focus on are what the job provides: dental and health insurance, 401k, sick leave, social security, and worker’s compensation in the event of an injury. But the economy is in such a state that these benefits, which most people working full-time hours would accept as automatic, may not be there anymore.
There are a lot of names for it, actually; on-demand, sharing, freelance. Many companies are firing their full-time employees, and hiring them back as independent contractors to do the exact same work for a lower salary and no benefits. Merck, a large pharmaceutical company, did precisely this to 400 of its workers at their Philadelphia factory. So why is the “gig” economy growing?
Part of the reason is there are more avenues for extra income, particularly with ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft. Research shows that 81 percent of these company’s drivers work part time hours (fewer than 34 hours per week). In professions such as these where the turnover rate is high and there is always a plethora of available part-time workers, companies are feeling less pressure to actually provide for their most dedicated workers.
Another part of the reason is larger companies and corporations cutting back on expenses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that a company can reduce labor costs by as much as 30 percent, purely by not providing benefits. This is even higher for state and local government employers, at 36 percent. So if a company fires full-time workers and hires them back as “freelancers” for the exact same type and amount of work, they can save a lot of money.
It’s not just health benefits that are lost in a gig economy; the ability to hold employers accountable and be fairly compensated when you are injured on the job is severely hindered as well. If you are hurt on the job you could potentially sue the company, or be compensated for medical expenses; but of the lost wages for missed time at work, you may be out of luck there.
Businesses are not required to pay their freelancers or independent contractors any worker’s compensation. If you are injured on the job, you would be left to fend for your own medical bills and would not receive any lost wages. Until the law is adjusted to account for this shift in the economy and how more and more people are finding work, this will unfortunately never change.
There are some benefits to this type of economy; someone who works as an independent contractor can theoretically enjoy a little bit of extra freedom and flexibility in choosing their own hours. But should an injury happen while on the job, getting a worker’s compensation claim approved will be more difficult than it would be if they were considered a full-time employee.Read More
¡No Se Deje! ®
La propiedad, posesión y uso de armas de fuego son regulados por leyes Federales y estatales. La Corte Suprema de EE.UU. ha afirmado el derecho Constitucional de las personas a poseer armas de fuego y el derecho de los estados a regular su posesión y uso. El Procurador General de Estados Unidos explicó que la posición legal del gobierno Federal es “prohibir la posesión de armas a las personas consideradas irresponsables o sin escrúpulos y restringir la posesión de ciertos tipos de armas de fuego que particularmente son aptas para mal uso de tipo criminal.” Evitar que las personas inadecuadas sean propietarias de armas es muy diferente a calificar como crimen que alguien posea un arma
Las categorías de personas que tienen prohibido poseer armas de fuego tienen un fundamento racional para considerarlas irresponsables o sin escrúpulos. La lista de las personas que tienen prohibido en California incluyen:
Quien esté comprendido en estas categorías, incluyendo ciudadanos de EE.UU., tiene prohibido portar, poseer, transportar o usar armas de fuego.
LA LEY FEDERAL DISPONE QUE ES ILICITO QUE LOS INMIGRANTES INDOCUMENTADOS (Referidos como “extranjeros ilegales”) POSEAN, PORTEN O USEN ARMAS DE FUEGO.
El Decreto Federal de Control de Armas de 1968 dispone que es una felonía (delito mayor) con una sentencia de 10 años en prisión que quienes llaman “Ilegal Aliens” (inmigrantes indocumentados) posean o porten un arma de fuego. A diferencia de las otras categorías de personas que tienen prohibido poseer armas de fuego, la ley prohíbe a TODOS los inmigrantes indocumentados poseer o portar armas de fuego, aún a quienes nunca han cometidos ninguno de los crímenes listados. Expertos legales han criticado la ley porque la gran mayoría de inmigrantes indocumentados son personas obedientes de la ley cuya única transgresión es entrar al país sin autorización. Ellos señalan que esto en ninguna manera los hace más propensos a usar armas para cometer un crimen, como es el caso de las personas en las otras categorías. Además, coloca a los inmigrantes indocumentados inocentes y obedientes de la ley en una desventaja injusta al defender sus casas y familias de verdaderos intrusos criminales.
Mientras los ciudadanos de EE.UU. pueden ser enviados a prisión por violar las leyes sobre armas de fuego, a los residentes permanentes legalmente admitidos y a los inmigrantes indocumentados se les puede deportar después de servir sus sentencias de prisión. Los no-inmigrantes, aquellos con visas con propósitos limitados como estudiantes o turistas, también tienen prohibido poseer o portar armas de fuego. Ellos pueden solicitar permisos especiales bajo ciertas circunstancias si cuentan con el apoyo de sus países de origen y si no están en ninguna de las categorías de personas con prohibición. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADORead More
¡No Se Deje!
Gun ownership, possession and use are regulated by Federal laws and the laws of each state. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the Constitutional right of persons to own guns and the rights of states to regulate their possession and use. The Solicitor General of the United States explained that the legal position of the Federal government is to “prevent possession of guns by unfit persons and to restrict possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse.” Preventing unfit persons from owning guns is much different than making it a crime for anyone to own a gun.
The categories of people prohibited from owning guns have a rational basis for considering them unfit. The list of prohibited persons in California includes:
Everyone in these categories, including U. S. citizens, is prohibited from possessing, owning, transporting or using a gun.
FEDERAL LAW MAKES IT ILLEGAL FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS
(Referred to as “illegal aliens”) TO OWN, POSSESS OR USE FIREARMS.
The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 makes it a felony with a 10 year prison sentence for “illegal Aliens” to own or possess a gun. Unlike the other categories of persons prohibited from possessing guns, the law forbids ALL undocumented immigrants from owning or possessing guns, even those that have never committed any of the listed crimes. Legal experts have criticized the law because the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are law abiding people whose only transgression is entering the country without authorization. They point out that this in no way makes them more likely to use a gun to commit a crime, as is the case for people in the other categories. Furthermore, it puts innocent, law abiding undocumented immigrants at an unfair disadvantage when defending their homes and families from real criminal intruders.
While U. S. citizens can be sent to prison for violating gun laws, lawfully admitted permanent residents and undocumented immigrants can be deported after serving their prison sentences. Non-immigrants, those with limited purpose visas like students or tourists, are also prohibited from owning or possessing guns. They may apply for special permits under certain circumstances if supported by their native countries and if they are not in any class of prohibited persons. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.Read More
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects approximately 7.7 million Americans annually. It can be brought on by wartime experiences, abuse or an attack. Its effects are often debilitating and can lead to many other issues such as anxiety and depression. If PTSD is brought on by something that happens at work, you can file a worker’s compensation claim.
If you suffer from PTSD, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) guarantees your right to file a worker’s comp claim. Should the claim be accepted, you can receive payment for medical expenses or disability for wage loss. PTSD requires time to heal, which means missed work and visits to a variety of doctors. If you never fully heal, you can receive compensation for permanent mental health impairment.
It’s estimated that as many as 30 percent of combat veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress in some fashion. While those who have served in the military most commonly suffer from the disease, they are not the only ones. Victims of assault or abuse suffer as well; approximately 10 percent of women will have PTSD at some point in their lives, compared to about four percent of men. At any given time, a total of 24 million Americans could be suffering from PTSD.
Anxiety disorders in general come at an annual cost of more than $42 billion annually, usually because of misdiagnosis. If PTSD isn’t treated properly, that just means more doctors visits, more prescriptions and more time missed from work. If more doctors and psychiatrists become well-versed in the handling and treatment of PTSD, then the costs can go down.
Worker’s compensation handles injuries that occur in the workplace for employees. The short answer is yes, a person who suffers from PTSD can file for and receive worker’s comp. However, two things have to be true:
The first is easy to claim worker’s comp; the event while working is the cause of physical and/or emotional problems related to PTSD. The second is much more difficult for worker’s comp to prove. This a problem in general for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress.
The symptoms of PTSD are often difficult to notice for an outside observer. The problems you face are very real, and your doctor recognizes them as such, but unfortunately they’re not the only ones you would have to convince. Insurance agents and claims evaluators still remain largely skeptical of post-traumatic stress, purely because the issues it causes may not be immediately visible. PTSD wasn’t even recognized as a verifiable illness with specific symptoms until 1980, but it is now recognized as an ongoing and difficult challenge for those who suffer from it.
Given the complex nature of workers’ compensation claims involving PTSD, it is always a good idea to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you navigate the law. Tackling the system on your own, in addition to already existing conditions may only make the problem worse, so speak with a qualified legal team today.Read More
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, and it prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, transportation, accommodation, communications and government activities. Essentially, a person is guaranteed equal employment rights no matter their physical or mental impairments, for the most part.
If you get hurt at work, worker’s compensation will handle it, so that a claim is not filed in court. Usually, an injury takes some time to heal before you can return to work and lead a normal life. When an injury becomes a disability, something that permanently impairs your ability to work at the same level of function before your injury, that’s when the ADA and worker’s comp would have to work side by side.
The definition for what exactly constitutes a disability, as well as the employer’s requirements for accommodating such employee’s, has been tweaked several times since the ADA’s enactment, most recently in August of this year. Generally, a disability is:
These major life activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, hearing, seeing, breathing, learning or speaking. In order for an employer to have to make special accommodations, it must be determined that one or more of these things is severely hindered by the disability.
When you are hurt at work, you are usually entitled to worker’s compensation. However, there are some things about the ADA and worker’s comp that is subjective. Employers are required to make a “reasonable accommodation” for their disabled employees in order to be ADA-compliant. These accommodations include anything from modifying work hours, reassigning them to a less physically demanding position or making the office/building itself more easily accessible.
These changes, whether temporary or permanent, must be made unless the company can show that they would impose an “undue hardship.” According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, undue hardship is:
If the employee will never be able to perform the functions of their job again, even with accommodation, the employer can terminate the employee. However, if you are injured at work and a compensation claim will be made in conjunction with ADA regulations, the employee must attempt to make accommodations for you. They must consider the ADA when you return to work, as even doing nothing may find them in violation of the law.
If you have been wrongfully terminated because of disability or need help acquiring certain benefits, contact an experienced legal team who can help protect your rights today.Read More
¡No Se Deje!
The American legal system allows cities, counties, states and the federal government to enact laws that are effective within their respective jurisdictions. This system usually produces useful and productive laws and ordinances. The U. S. Constitution establishes a system of priorities in which city and county ordinances cannot contradict state or federal laws and state laws cannot contradict federal laws. This principal was used in California to try to stop cities and counties from enacting “Crash Tax Laws”.
Crash Tax laws are laws that impose a fee or fine on people involved in accidents to reimburse the city or county for the cost of providing emergency or public safety services. These services usually include police, paramedic, hospital, and other emergency services and often cost thousands of dollars. Some crash tax laws only charge people that cause accidents while others only charge people that have accident insurance. Other cities charge everyone in the accident while others only charge non-residents. These services are traditionally paid for by the taxpayers of each jurisdiction in the form or property and sales taxes.
Experts speculate that the bad economic situation is causing struggling cities and counties to use these crash taxes to raise much needed money. Thousands of residents and citizens of California have reacted aggressively and many have complained to their state senators and assembly representatives that crash taxes are a form of double taxation.
More than 50 California cities, and several counties, have passed crash tax laws. The cities of Sacramento, Oceanside, and Vista have now repealed their enacted crash tax laws after determining that the increase in income was far less than promised. To date, 13 states have passed laws to prohibit cities and counties from enacting crash tax laws. Investigations have revealed that collection agencies often contact cities and counties with financial problems and convince them to pass crash tax laws. The collection agencies are then paid a percentage of all amounts they collect for the use of police and emergency services
Senate bill 49 first proposed in 2010 would prohibit any city, county, district, municipal corporation, or public authority from charging any fee to anyone, regardless of residency, for the cost of an emergency response. The proposed law also declared that the California legislature has determined that the availability and use of emergency response resources throughout the state is an issue of statewide concern and not an appropriate matter for cities or counties to regulate.
The Senate Bill failed passage in committee and was returned to Secretary of Senate in May 2012. Supporters of Senate Bill 49 said that the public should not have to worry before calling for help because they cannot afford to pay for police or ambulance services. We expect the elected legislature will reconsider this much needed law and finally pass it ¡NO SE DEJE! ®.
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQRead More
¡No Se Deje! ®
El sistema legal Americano permite que las ciudades, condados, estados y el gobierno federal promulguen leyes que tienen efecto dentro de sus respectivas jurisdicciones. Usualmente, este sistema produce leyes y ordenanzas útiles y productivas. La Constitución de EE.UU. establece un sistema de prioridades en el cual las ordenanzas de la ciudad y del condado no pueden contradecir las leyes estatales o federales y las leyes estatales no pueden contradecir las leyes federales. Este fundamento fue usado en el pasado en California para intentar que las ciudades y condados dejen de aprobar “Crash Tax Laws” (Leyes de Impuestos por Accidentes).
“Crash Tax laws” son leyes que imponen un tributo o una multa a personas que participan en accidentes para reembolsar a la ciudad o al condado los costos de proveer servicios de emergencia o de seguridad pública. Estos servicios usualmente incluyen policías, paramédicos, hospitales, y otros servicios de emergencia y generalmente cuestan miles de dólares. Ciertas leyes de “crash tax” (impuestos por accidentes) solamente les cobran a las personas que causan accidentes mientras que otras leyes solamente les cobran a las personas que tienen seguros para accidentes. Otras ciudades les cobran a todos los del accidente mientras otras solamente les cobran a quienes no son residentes de la jurisdicción. Estos servicios tradicionalmente son pagados por quienes pagan los impuestos de cada jurisdicción en forma de impuestos al consumidor y a la propiedad.
Expertos especulan que la mala situación económica está causando que ciudades y condados con problemas económicos utilicen estos “crash taxes” para juntar el dinero que tanto necesitan. Miles de residentes y ciudadanos de California han reaccionado agresivamente y muchos se han quejado con sus senadores y asambleístas estatales que los “crash taxes” son una forma de doble impuesto.
Más de 50 ciudades de California, y varios condados, han aprobado estas leyes de impuesto por accidentes. Las ciudades de Sacramento, Oceanside, y Vista ya han revocado sus leyes “crash tax” después de determinar que el incremento de ingresos fue mucho menor que lo esperado. Hasta hoy, 13 estados han aprobado leyes que prohíben a las ciudades y condados que aprueben leyes “crash tax”. Investigaciones sobre el tema han revelado que agencias de cobro frecuentemente contactan a las ciudades y condados que tienen problemas financieros y los convencen que aprueben leyes “crash tax”. Estas agencias de cobro después reciben un porcentaje del monto total que cobran por el uso de servicios policíacos y de emergencia.
El proyecto de ley 49 del Senado, inicialmente propuesto en 2010, prohibiría que cualquier ciudad, condado, distrito, corporación municipal, o autoridad pública le cobren un tributo a alguien, independientemente de su residencia, por el costo de una respuesta de emergencia. La ley propuesta también declaraba que la legislatura de California ha determinado que la disponibilidad y uso de los recursos para responder a emergencias en todo el estado es un asunto que corresponde a todo el estado y no es apropiado que las ciudades o condados lo regulen
El proyecto de Ley no fue aprobado y fue devuelto al Secretario del Senado de Seguridad Pública. Patrocinadores del Proyecto de ley SB 49 del Senado dijeron que el público no debería tener que angustiarse por pedir auxilio solo porque no puede pagar los servicios de policía o ambulancia. Esperamos que la legislatura electa retome la propuesta de esta ley muy necesaria y que la apruebe.
¡NO SE DEJE! ®.
JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADORead More
¡No Se Deje!
The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Guimarra Vineyards Corporation for allowing a 17 year old Latina farm worker to be sexually harassed. The government accused Guimarra, one of the largest growers of grapes in the country, of ignoring complaints and requests for help by the victim and other farm workers. Guimarra was also accused of firing the victim and 3 other farm workers the day after they complained of the sexual harassment. Guimarra uses the label “Nature’s Partner”.
The Federal lawsuit stated that a co-worker of the victim harassed the victim daily by repeatedly asking the young girl to have sex with him, touching her inappropriately, and describing the sexual acts he wanted to perform on her. The victim strongly and repeatedly refused and reported the misconduct to Guimarra representatives who did nothing to stop the illegal acts.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to harass employees because of their sex and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees that complain of employment discrimination. Federal Government officials filed the lawsuit after their attempts to reach a settlement with Guimarra failed. Guimarra representatives denied the accusations.
Anna Park, an attorney for the EEOC said “the government takes seriously when teenage victims are subjected to egregious acts of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Moreover, aggressive acts of retaliation against workers who exercise their right to oppose unlawful harassment will not be tolerated.” Marla Stern, the director of the San Diego EEOC office said “Employers must understand that they have an obligation to their employees to provide a safe workplace free of the type of harassment that took place here. Retaliating against an employee for complaining of such unlawful harassment is as much a civil rights violation as the harassment itself.”
The lawsuit was filed in a Federal District Court requesting a court order to stop the discriminatory sexual harassment at Guimarra. It also requested that the fired employees be paid back pay, and money to compensate them for all damages and losses resulting from the unlawful firing. And, the lawsuit requested that Guimarra be ordered to pay punitive damages to punish Guimarra for their outrageous misconduct in this case. The lawsuit also asked that the unlawfully fired employees be paid for the emotional distress and pain and suffering they suffered due to the illegal acts and behavior.
In a press release the Federal Agency announced that Guimarra would settle the lawsuit, agreeing to comprehensive and sweeping changes of company procedures in dealing with discrimination and retaliation, affecting up to 3000 employees and to expend a total of $350,000.00 to resolve EEOC’s case.
The lawsuit by the Federal Government in this case is very important because it sends a message to employers that exploiting and abusing immigrants in violation of the law will not be tolerated. It is significant that no mention is made of the immigration status of the victims. Employers should note that every employee, regardless of immigration status, is protected by Federal Civil Rights laws and violators will be punished. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.Read More
¡No Se Deje! ®
La Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission –EEOC (en español Comisión Federal de Igualdad de Oportunidades de Empleo) registró una demanda contra Guimarra Vineyards Corporation por permitir que una trabajadora agrícola Latina de 17 años de edad fuera acosada sexualmente. El gobierno acusó a Guimarra, uno de los más grandes cultivadores de uvas en el país, de ignorar quejas y solicitudes de ayuda de la propia víctima y de otros trabajadores agrícolas. Guimarra también fue acusada de despedir a la víctima y a otros 3 trabajadores agrícolas el día siguiente en que se quejaron del acoso sexual. Guimarra utiliza la etiqueta “Nature’s Partner”.
La demanda estableció que un compañero de trabajo de la víctima la acosaba diariamente pidiéndole repetidamente a la joven que tuviera sexo con él, tocándola impropiamente, y describiendo los actos sexuales que quería hacerle. La víctima rehusó repetida y enfáticamente y reportó la mala conducta a representantes de Guimarra quienes no hicieron nada para cesar los actos ilegales.
El Decreto de Derechos Civiles de 1964 dispone que es ilegal acosar a los empleados por sexo y prohíbe que los patrones tomen represalias contra los empleados que se quejan de discriminación en el empleo. Funcionarios del Gobierno Federal registraron la demanda después que varios intentos de llegar a un acuerdo con Guimarra fracasaron. Los representantes de Guimarra negaron las acusaciones.
Anna Park, abogada de EEOC dijo “el gobierno toma muy seriamente cuando víctimas adolescentes son objeto de actos atroces de mala conducta sexual en el lugar de trabajo. Es más, los actos agresivos de represalias contra los trabajadores que ejercitan su derecho a oponerse al ilegal acoso no serán tolerados.” Marla Stern, directora de la oficina de EEOC en San Diego dijo “Los Patrones deben entender que tienen una obligación con sus empleados de proveer un lugar de trabajo seguro y libre del tipo de acoso que se dió aquí. Las represalias contra los empleados por quejarse de este acoso tan ilícito es una violación a los derechos civiles tanto como el acoso mismo”
La demanda fue registrada en una Corte Federal de Distrito exigiendo una orden de la corte para cesar el acoso sexual discriminatorio en Guimarra. También que a los empleados despedidos se les pagaran salarios retroactivos, y dinero para compensarlos por todos los daños y pérdidas resultantes del despido ilegal. La demanda pidió que se le ordenara a Guimarra pagar daños punitivos para castigar a Guimarra por su atroz mala conducta en este caso. La demanda también pedía que se les pagara a los empleados despedidos ilegalmente por la tensión emocional y el dolor y sufrimiento que soportaron debido al comportamiento y actos ilegales.
Hoy quiero comunicarles que la Agencia Federal anunció que Guimarra aceptó un arreglo que incluye hacer cambios amplios y radicales de los procedimientos sobre discriminación y represalias que afectaba al menos a 3,000 empleados, y a gastar un total de $350,000.00 para resolver la demanda de EEOC.
La demanda del Gobierno Federal en este caso es muy importante porque advierte a los patrones que no se tolerará explotar y abusar de los inmigrantes en violación a la ley. Es importante que no se hace mención del estatus migratorio de las víctimas. Los patrones deberían notar que todo empleado, independientemente de su estatus migratorio, está protegido por las leyes Federales de Derechos Civiles y que los transgresores serán castigados. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADORead More
Workers’ compensation benefits provide medical treatment and make up for lost income after an employee suffers an injury at work. This can also extend to illnesses an employee contracts due to the nature of his or her work. One gray area that many employees wonder about is food poisoning.
In any workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker must be able to prove that the injury or illness came about through his or her work duties or any other job-related activity. In most slip-and-fall and workplace injury cases, this is fairly straightforward. However, food poisoning cases in general are difficult to prove, because you must be able to show a court exactly how you contracted food poisoning. It’s even more difficult to prove your food poisoning was work-related, and there are a few special considerations for such claims.
If you contract food poisoning and believe it to be work-related, you must consider a few factors. For example, if you got food poisoning from eating your leftovers from home during your lunch break at work, that would not count as work-related food poisoning. Even though you ate at work, your employer had no interaction with your food, thus this instance would not be eligible for workers’ compensation.
There are only a few cases in which food poisoning can be work-related:
As with any other job-related injury or illness, your first priority should be to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once your immediate medical concerns are out of the way, you’ll need to report the incident to your employer and start the claims process. Many states have strict time frames in which you must report such incidents, so make sure to do so as quickly as possible. One of the best steps you can take after addressing your medical needs is to connect with a qualified, reliable workers’ compensation attorney. Even if your case seems straightforward, filing for workers’ compensation entails adhering to strict deadlines and gathering necessary documentation. An attorney will help you navigate this process.
Additionally, some cases will require more than just a workers’ compensation claim. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to obtain fair compensation for your losses. Food poisoning is an extremely unpleasant sickness, and the symptoms can vary widely in their severity. You may be able to secure reparation in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. While workers’ compensation will likely cover your immediate medical expenses and lost income from time spent out of work, you also may be able to file for damages, including pain and suffering, any necessary ongoing medical care, and lost income beyond what workers’ compensation benefits cover.Read More