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Postmates To Pay Retroactive Workers’ Comp Premiums

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Archive: Feb 2017

Postmates To Pay Retroactive Workers’ Comp Premiums

The gig economy represents a potential boon for both workers and employers. As interest in contract work rises, so do questions about employment and employer sponsored benefits. A recent audit in Washington State revealed that one popular delivery startup may owe the state more than two years’ worth of workers’ compensation premiums. Employers must follow state laws surrounding worker classification to avoid fines and penalties arising from workers’ compensation and other avoidable expenses.

Postmates Audit Reveals Missed Premium Payments

Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) conducted the Postmates audit after company couriers suffered on-the-job injuries and filed claims for workers’ compensation benefits. The audit revealed Postmates classified its thousands of couriers as independent contractors and did not carry insurance on them.

According to the audit findings, the company failed to pay nearly $320,000 in premiums from 2013 to 2015. The audit also discovered instances of poor record keeping during the same audit period.

Postmates offers an Uber-like service for goods. Couriers sign up for the program and login to find available delivery gigs. They travel to stores and restaurants to pick up orders and deliver them. The customer and the courier manage the transaction through the Postmates application.

L&I alleges Postmates inaccurately classified its couriers under Washington workers’ compensation laws. Postmates has attempted to refute the findings. The company considers itself a marketplace or facilitator for freelance contractors rather than an employer. Since couriers directly benefit customers and manage their own time and transportation, Postmates asserts, they act as contractors and not employees. If L&I denies Postmates’ request for reconsideration, the company can file an appeal and then take the matter to court to obtain a final determination.

The State of Washington, much like California, enforces strict classification standards for employees. Any business that fails to meet the standards for hiring independent contractors must treat workers as employees and offer workers’ compensation coverage. Standards in Washington include a personal labor test (RCW 51.08.180) the general counsel of Postmates believes L&I ignored during the audit.

Workers’ Compensation in a Gig Economy

While the Washington State government challenges Postmates, similar debates have and will arise surrounding employment classification. Some businesses, including PR firm LP&G in 2009, find ways to lay off and rehire former employees as independent contractors. In the arrangement, the business can cut overhead costs. Contractors may perform the same basic function and gain a small amount of freedom but lose access to important benefits and any sense of job security.

Many states will fight the same employee classification battles as Washington’s case against Postmates. In practice, where do businesses draw the line between employee and contractor? Are the current state standards enough to protect workers? What happens to medical expenses and personal insurance if contractors must pay for their on-the-job injuries out-of-pocket? The answers to these questions will shape the economy for years to come.

Workers themselves are the ones who suffer the most as the result of misclassification. Mislabeled employees may miss out on much needed support and compensation after an on-the-job accident, and gig industry contractors must always consider the risk vs. reward in accepting contract work.

Employee vs. Independent Contractor in California

In today’s world, companies and workers may benefit from understanding more about the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. The definition changes from state to state. Knowing your rights and responsibilities will help you make informed decisions about your working arrangements.

Under current laws, independent contractors in California maintain the right to manage every aspect of the work performed. Additionally, the state enforces IRS factors including the presence of profit or loss, equipment/facilities investments, the presence of multiple end-clients and general public availability, whether the contracting business delivers specific instructions about the work, and more. Employers who purposefully or negligently misclassify employees as independent contractors in California may face financial penalties at both the state and federal level.

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Overview of 2016 WCIRB Report on California Workers’ Compensation

In fall 2016, the state’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) released a report on insurer experiences. The report contains information from nearly all workers’ compensation insurers in the state of California. The report reveals trends and insights employers can use to make informed decisions about insurance coverage and claims.

Key Findings in the September 30, 2016 Report

The findings show general trends in claim costs and insurer losses, including:

  • The written premium from January to September in 2016, $14.1 billion, was 5% above the amount for the same period in 2015.
  • The average charged rate employers paid per $100 of payroll from July through September was $2.65. This number represents a 7% decrease in the amount employers paid during the first six months of the year and a 13% decrease from the first six months of 2015.
  • The Bureau estimates an ultimate accident year loss and ALAE (allocated loss adjustment expenses) ratio of 72.5% in 2015. The ratios held steady in recent years and represent a gradual decrease in loss and expense costs since 2009. Research attributes the trend to increased premium rates and a moderated growth in claim severity.
  • Predictions for the ultimate accident year combined loss and expense ratio is 97% for the 2015 year. Around 57% of the ratio results from indemnity and medical loss ratios and 40% results from loss adjustment and other ratio calculations. The total losses and expenses represent a gradual decline and some of the lowest ratios since 2007.
  • Indemnity claim frequency in 2015-2016 was slightly lower than in 2014-2015 but represents an overall increase over previous years. The WCIRB connects increases in claim frequency with rising cumulative injury claims, late reported claims, and claims involving several injuries.
  • The WCIRB estimates the average cost of an indemnity claim at $81,000 in 2015, which represents an increase of 3% from 2014 and an increase of 6% from 2013.
  • Actual insurance losses reported by insurers in 2015 appear $1.7 billion lower than losses reported by insurers.

The data includes limited information from the 2016 year, but it does include detailed insurer reported information from the 2015 year. Together, the set suggests employers are paying less per $100 of payroll for coverage than they did in early 2015 but more than in 2009. Insurers are experiencing fewer total losses compared to the previous year. Claim frequencies are falling, but the cost per claim represents an increase. If the trends remain, insurers and employers can expect the 2017 accident year to include familiar rates of costs and expenses. In fact, the actual reported losses may support the continual decline in premium costs and the decrease in claim frequencies.

About the WCIRB’s Report

The WCIRB conducts research and rates experiences to help everyone involved in the system (insurers and employers) discover cost-effective insurance solutions. The September report features actuarial projections and actual reporting information. As an overview of statewide insurer experiences, individual insurers may provide their clients with differing agency information. Underwriting practices, claims processing, and other insurance factors may change the actual experience of individual insurers.

Historically, California has maintained a reputation for a complex and costly workers’ compensation program. Employers can use the information in the report to keep track of average premium expenses and claim frequency rates compared to statewide trends. Legislative changes, medical cost changes, geographic location, and other factors play a role in the total workers’ compensation losses and expenses from quarter to quarter.

The WCIRB gives every participating employer an experience modification rating based on the individual company workers’ compensation data. Insurers use the information to establish premiums. Take the most recent insurer experience reports and experience modification ratings into account to establish workplace safety policies. Companies that use proactive accident minimization and accurate reporting standards can improve worker health while minimizing premium costs.

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San Bernardino Terror Victims Fight for Workers’ Comp Benefits

A little over a year after the San Bernardino terror attack, victims continue to struggle both physically and emotionally. County employees present at the attack must cope with the aftermath as well as the state’s complex worker’s compensation program. Many of the survivors have turned to legal support to fight compensation claim delays and denials.

A Recap of the Attack

On Dec. 2, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a county government office holiday party. Farook worked for the county as a health inspector prior to the attack. The two used five firearms and were planning a bigger attack after the holiday party. Fourteen people lost their lives that night, and 22 suffered injury. Still more experienced the psychological trauma that accompanies such a gruesome act of violence. Over 50 people attended the party that night.

Farook and Malik both died during a police shootout on the same night. Others connected to the attack have since faced prosecution for their roles.

The Survivors’ Struggles

Today, survivors must rely on the county’s workers’ compensation support to receive medication, counseling, surgery, physical therapy, and other physician recommended treatments. Each time an insurer delays or denies a valid claim, victims must fight through their pain and suffering to appeal the claim or find an alternative solution.

The pain the victims’ suffered follows them. Valerie Kallis-Weber’s left hand is paralyzed. Her pelvis contains bone and bullet fragments. Part of her thigh muscle is missing, and she continues to experience pain and trauma from her injures. Amanda Gaspard has struggled with a fractured femur and tibia, knee cartilage damage, and tissue damage. Hanan Megalla was shot four times. She experiences complications associated with nerve damage and fractures. Each of these individuals needs continuing treatment for physical and emotional injuries they sustained that night.

Physicians prescribe medication, surgeries, and physical therapy. Unfortunately, each of these victims struggles to receive necessary care.

Workers’ Compensation for Victims

The struggle arises in part from a complex state worker’s compensation system and in part from the county’s unwillingness to cooperate. San Bernardino County is self-insured, meaning it can override many bureaucratic processes to give victims the approvals they need.

The claims denials and delays may also arise from inadequate physician reviews. Many claims undergo the scrutiny of a non-treating physician, who will determine if the recommendation for treatment sounds reasonable under the circumstances. A physician who has no previous experience with the long-term effects of a terror attack and who never sees the injured worker may not deliver an appropriate care decision.

Workers’ Compensation Process Tips

Regardless of the injury type, the workers’ compensation process remains daunting for many injured workers. Use these tips to improve your ability to access the benefits you deserve as an employee:

  1. Keep records of everything. Journal about your experiences, give your physician detailed information, and keep medical records and receipts.
  1. Stay away from social media. If you tell an insurance representative about the devastating effects of an injury but look well on social media, you may experience a delay or denial.
  1. Talk to an attorney. Attorneys can take the stress of the process off your shoulders and expedite the compensatory process.

Workers’ compensation is a complex system, whether administered at a state or local level. Injured workers must initiate the claims process and continue to file for treatment approvals over time to receive care. The system was never designed to handle the aftermath of terror attacks, but this is the state of the world today. A terror attack at work deserves as much consideration as any other on-the-job injury. The now public handling of worker’s compensation claims in San Bernardino will likely impact how businesses and insurers handle job-related mass shootings and terror attacks in the future.

If you or a loved one are having trouble receiving workers’ compensation benefits in San Bernardino, be sure to contact our San Bernardino office today and set up an appointment.

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CITIZENSHIP AND DEPORTATION

Article 17-05

¡No Se Deje!

People that are citizens of this country because they were born here cannot be deported.  U. S. born citizens do have the right to voluntarily renounce their citizenship but it cannot be taken from them.  This is true even if they have been convicted of committing horrendous crimes including multiple murders, rape, massive drug sales, or child abuse offenses.  They can be sent to prison for life and can even be executed, but not deported. Naturalized citizens do not have the same absolute immunity from deportation.

 

Naturalized citizens are immigrants that have become U. S. citizens after first becoming permanent residents and then successfully completing naturalization procedures. U. S. immigration laws provide that people ordered deported are to be sent to “the country from whence they came”.  This does not apply for people born here. Although it is extremely difficult and rare to denaturalize someone that has become a naturalized citizen, it has been done.  The 2010 census revealed that 6.8 million immigrants became naturalized citizens between the years 2000 and 2010.

 

Because so many immigrants have succeeded in becoming naturalized citizens in the past 10 years, it is important to know the acts or conduct that could provide a legal basis for taking away naturalized citizenship.  If they lose their citizenship, they can be deported.  Until recently, the cases where denaturalization was legally permitted were limited to situations in which the immigrant lied in his/her citizenship application.  Once the immigrant took the citizenship oath and was sworn in, he/she became a U. S. citizen.  The consequences of any criminal convictions after becoming a U. S. citizen could not include denaturalization.  That has changed.

 

A federal appeals court ruled that a naturalized citizen could be denaturalized even though he was arrested, indicted and convicted after he became a naturalized citizen.  This is a dramatic and extreme change in the law.  Immigration officials successfully argued that because the criminal conduct of the defendant occurred before he became a citizen, and because the criminal conduct constituted a lack of “good moral character”, he was ineligible for citizenship.  The judge in that case said “the commission of the crime rather than the conviction for the crime is enough to denaturalize because it negates “good moral character”.

 

The judge also said that because the defendant did not have good moral character at the time he applied for citizenship, he illegally procured naturalization.  In that case, the crime he committed, trafficking in drugs, is a crime which is listed as establishing a lack of good moral character.  Not all crimes are on that list.  The judge also said that because the defendant procured citizenship illegally, the courts do not have the power to stop the deportation even if it results in extreme hardship on the defendant and his family.

 

Immigrants should recognize that committing acts that constitute a lack of good moral character before becoming citizens can be used to cancel that citizenship even if it is discovered long after they are sworn in.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

  

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.  

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CIUDADANIA Y DEPORTACION

 

Artículo 17-05

¡No Se Deje! ®

Las personas que son ciudadanas de este país porque nacieron aquí no pueden ser deportadas.  Los ciudadanos de EE.UU. por nacimiento sí tienen derecho a renunciar voluntariamente a su ciudadanía pero no se les puede quitar.  Esto es cierto aún si han sido condenados por cometer crímenes horrendos incluyendo múltiples asesinatos, violaciones, ventas masivas de drogas, y  abuso de menores.  Sí pueden ser enviados a prisión de por vida y hasta ser ejecutados, pero no pueden ser deportados. Los ciudadanos naturalizados no tienen la misma absoluta inmunidad a la deportación.

 

Los ciudadanos naturalizados son inmigrantes que se han convertido en ciudadanos de EE.UU. después de primero ser residentes permanentes y luego completar exitosamente los procedimientos de naturalización. Las leyes de inmigración de EE.UU. disponen que las personas que reciben orden de deportación  deben ser enviadas al “país de donde vinieron”.  Esto no aplica para las personas nacidas aquí. Aunque es extremadamente difícil y raro desnaturalizar a alguien que se ha hecho ciudadano naturalizado, sí ha sucedido.  El censo de 2010 reveló que 6.8 millones de inmigrantes se hicieron ciudadanos naturalizados entre los años 2000 y 2010.

 

Dado que muchos inmigrantes han tenido éxito en convertirse en ciudadanos naturalizados en los pasados 10 años, es importante saber las acciones o conductas que podrían proveer una base legal para quitar la ciudadanía por naturalización.  Si pierden su ciudadanía, pueden ser deportados.  Hasta hace poco, los casos en que la desnaturalización era legalmente permitida estaban limitados a situaciones en que los inmigrantes mintieron en la solicitud para su ciudadanía.  Una vez que el inmigrante tomaba el juramento de ciudadanía, él/ella se hacía ciudadano de EE.UU.  Las consecuencias de cualquier condena criminal después de hacerse ciudadano de EE.UU. no podían incluir la desnaturalización.  Eso ha cambiado.

 

Una corte federal de apelaciones dictó que un ciudadano naturalizado podía ser desnaturalizado aún cuando fue arrestado, enjuiciado y condenado después de hacerse ciudadano naturalizado.  Este es un cambio dramático y extremo en la ley.  Funcionarios de Inmigración argumentaron con éxito que debido a que la conducta criminal del acusado ocurrió antes de que se convirtiera en ciudadano, y que la conducta criminal constituía una falta de “buen carácter moral”, él era inelegible para la ciudadanía.  El juez en dicho caso dijo “cometer el crimen en vez de la condena por el mismo, es suficiente para desnaturalizar porque niega el “buen carácter moral”.

 

El juez también dijo que debido a que el acusado no tenía buen carácter moral al momento que aplicó para la ciudadanía, él adquirió la nacionalización ilegalmente.  En tal caso, el crimen que cometió, tráfico de drogas, es un crimen listado que establece una carencia de buen carácter moral.  No todos los crímenes están en dicha lista.  El juez también dijo que debido a que el acusado adquirió la ciudadanía ilegalmente, la corte no tiene el poder de detener la deportación aún si ello resulta en una dificultad extrema para el acusado y su familia.

 

Los inmigrantes deben reconocer que cometer actos que constituyan una carencia de buen carácter moral antes de hacerse ciudadanos puede ser usado para cancelar la ciudadanía aún si ello se descubre mucho tiempo después de que sean juramentados.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.

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LAVA-CARROS ESTAN PROTEGIDOS BAJO LEY LABORAL

 Artículo 17-03

¡No Se Deje! ®

Debido a que los trabajadores de lavado de carros están entre los empleados menos pagados, menos protegidos, más abusados y explotados en California; el Estado aprobó en 2003 una ley protectora muy necesaria.  La LEY DE LOS TRABAJADORES DE LAVADO DE CARROS exige que las empresas de lavado de carros registren sus negocios en el California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (División para la Aplicación de Estándares Laborales de California). Esto les permite a las agencias laborales del gobierno crear un registro de violaciones y sacar del negocio a quienes repetidamente violen la ley.  La ley también le exige a los negocios de lavado de carros que compren Fianzas de Garantía y seguros para salarios.  Estos seguros les pagan sus salarios a los empleados del negocio si el patrón se rehúsa o no puede hacerlo.  Y, los negocios de lavado de carros deben contribuir al CARWASH WORKER RESTITUTION FUND (Fondo de Restitución a Trabajadores de Lavado de Carros).  Este fondo también se usa  para pagarles los salarios que les son adeudados a los trabajadores de lavados de carros cuando el patrón no lo hace.  Las multas que se cobran a las empresas de lavado de carros que no cumplen con la ley, son también agregadas al Fondo de Restitución antes mencionado.

 

En años pasados, investigadores de la Comisión Laboral de California condujeron una labor de búsqueda que duró dos días a empresas de lavado de carros y les emitieron citas a corte resultando en más de $900,000 dólares en multas.  Los investigadores identificaron a 76 negocios que no se habían registrado como está requerido.  La Comisión Laboral reportó cientos de violaciones que incluyeron conspiración para violar la ley, manipulación de testigos, robo mayor, incumplimiento del pago de salarios, mostrar un arma mortal, y agresión sexual.  Los investigadores citaron a 49 negocios por no tener seguro de Compensación al Trabajador.

 

Los Comisionados Laborales de California registraron demandas contra 9 grandes empresas de lavado de carros en varios Condados de California.  Y, un Juez de la Corte Superior del Condado de Los Angeles emitió una orden de restricción contra cuatro de estos negocios prohibiéndoles operar.  La ExComisionada Laboral Angela Bradstreet dijo “los patrones que flagrantemente violan las leyes laborales y las leyes de registro no tienen permitido ganar ventajas comerciales injustas en esta sub-economía o aprovecharse de los empleados.”  Dijo que todas estas empresas habían recibido más de una cita a corte y que muchas habían sido multadas con el máximo de $10,000 dólares.  Dijo además que la mitad de estas empresas no pagaban el salario mínimo y muchas tenían condiciones laborales que no cumplían con el estándar.

 

La Unión de Trabajadores Unidos del Acero registró una queja con la Oficina Nacional de Relaciones Laborales contra dos hermanos que poseían varias empresas de negocios de lavado de carros en Los Angeles.  Los hermanos Pirian aceptaron pagar $50,000.00 a cuatro trabajadores ya sea porque los despidieron o porque les redujeron sus salarios por simpatizar con los organizadores de la Unión.    Los fiscales registraron 220 cargos criminales contra los hermanos Pirian por abuso ilícito de los trabajadores en sus negocios.  Los castigos en estos casos incluían hasta 120 años en prisión y $186,000 en multas.

 

Existen aproximadamente 20,000 negocios de lavado de carros en California. Muy seguido los patrones inescrupulosos tratan de engañarlos pagándoles menos del salario mínimo, no pagándoles tiempo extraordinario (overtime), sin proveerles condiciones laborales seguras e higiénicas ó Seguro de Compensación al Trabajador ni otros beneficios.  Las víctimas de estas violaciones deben llamar inmediatamente a un abogado de leyes laborales. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO

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LABOR LAW USED TO PROTECT CARWASH WORKERS

Article 17-03

¡No Se Deje!

Because carwash workers are among the lowest paid, least protected and most abused and exploited employees in California; the State passed a much needed protection law in 2003.  The CARWASH WORKER LAW requires carwash companies to register their businesses with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. This allows government labor agencies to create a record of violations and to put repeat offenders out of business.  The law also requires carwash businesses to buy Surety Bonds as wage insurance.  This insurance pays carwash employees if an employer refuses or is unable to pay the worker his salary.  And, carwash businesses must contribute to a CARWASH WORKER RESTITUTION FUND.  This fund is also used to pay carwash workers wages that are owed to them when an employer does not pay them.  Fines that are collected from non-complying carwash businesses are also added to the CARWASH WORKER RESTITUTION FUND.

 

Few years back California Labor Commission investigators conducted a two day sweep of carwash businesses and issued citations resulting in more than $900,000 dollars in fines.  Investigators identified 76 carwash businesses that had not registered as required.  The Labor Commission reported hundreds of violations which included conspiracy to violate the law, witness tampering, grand theft, failure to pay wages, brandishing a deadly weapon, and sexual battery.  Investigators cited 49 carwash businesses for not having Workers Compensation insurance.

 

California Labor Commissioners filed lawsuits against 9 major carwash businesses in several California Counties.  And, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge issued a restraining order against four carwash businesses prohibiting them from doing business.  Former State Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet said “employers who flagrantly violate labor laws and registration laws are not allowed to gain unfair business advantages in this underground economy or take advantage of employees.”  She said that these businesses had all received more than one citation and that many had been fined the maximum of $10,000 dollars.  She further indicated that half of these carwash businesses were not paying minimum wage and many had substandard working conditions.

 

The United Steel Workers Union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against two brothers that owned several carwash businesses in Los Angeles.  The Pirian brothers agreed to pay four workers $50,000 because they were either fired or had their wages reduced for being sympathetic to union organizers.    Prosecutors filed 220 criminal charges against the Pirian brothers for illegal abuses of carwash workers.  Punishment in these cases included up to 120 years in prison and $186,000 in fines.

 

There are approximately 20,000 carwash workers in California.   Unscrupulous employers too often try to cheat them by paying them less than minimum wage, not paying them overtime, not providing safe and sanitary working conditions, Workers Compensation insurance and other benefits.  Victims of these violations should contact an employment law attorney immediately¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.

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FEDERAL COURT SAYS PEOPLE CAN VIDEOTAPE THE POLICE

Article 17-04

¡No Se Deje!

There have been many news reports about people that have been arrested for videotaping or taking photos of on-duty police officers.  Most of the time the videotaping is done by an innocent bystander that feels the conduct of the police is unlawful or improper.  The case of Rodney King illustrates how videotapes of police action can affect the results of legal cases.  In that case, the police officers seen beating Mr. King on the videotape were ultimately sent to prison.

 

In a case in Vallejo, California, Lonnel Duchine used his cell phone to videotape the police arresting 4 people outside of his home because he thought the police were acting improperly.  He says that the policeman was using his gun while speaking with 4 juveniles.    One policeman asked him for his cell phone saying that it was “evidence”.  He was arrested for refusing to give it to them.  He gave the cell phone to his friend and never gave it to the officer.  The contents of the videotape were posted on YouTube.

 

Legal commentators agreed that arresting Mr. Duchine was improper and he was interviewed by internal affairs officers investigating the policeman for misconduct.  Legal experts on the news shows all agreed that Mr. Duchine should not have been arrested and that IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO VIDEOTAPE POLICE OFFICERS IN CALIFORNIA.  It may be illegal if in the process of videotaping, one interferes with the officer’s proper duties.

 

A Federal Appeals Court ruled in other case that a man can file a lawsuit against 3 policemen for violating his civil rights.  Attorney Simon Glik videotaped police officers arresting a young man after he heard people telling the police officers to stop hurting him.  He refused the officer’s order to stop recording and was arrested for disturbing the peace and aiding in the escape of a prisoner.  The prosecutor and the Municipal Court dismissed the charges. The judge said “The fact that the officers were unhappy they were being recorded during an arrest …does not make exercise of a First Amendment (Constitutional) right a crime.”

 

The Federal Judge said that there is a constitutionally protected right to videotape police officers carrying out their duties in public.  He also said that federal court cases have also clearly decided that people have a constitutional right to videotape police officers on the job in public.  Mr. Glik filed a complaint with the police department but the matter was never investigated.  He then filed a civil rights lawsuit for violating his constitutional rights under the first and fourth amendments, as well as for malicious prosecution.  The accused officers asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit claiming that, as police officers, they have immunity from prosecution for acts done on the job.  The judge denied their request.  The judge also said that Mr. Glik’s recording of the police actions took place in a public place and did not interfere with the arrest.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.  

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LAS PERSONAS PUEDEN FILMAR A LA POLICIA DICE CORTE FEDERAL

 

Artículo 17-04

¡No Se Deje! ®

Ha habido muchos reportes en las noticias de personas que han sido arrestadas por filmar o tomar fotos de oficiales de policía en servicio.  En la mayoría de las veces, la filmación es hecha por un inocente espectador que siente que la conducta de la policía es ilegal o impropia.  El lamentable caso de Rodney King ilustra en qué medida las filmaciones de las acciones de la policía pueden afectar el resultado de los casos legales.  En este en particular, los oficiales de policía vistos en el video golpeando al Sr. King finalmente fueron enviados a prisión.

 

En un caso en Vallejo, California, Lonnel Duchine usó su teléfono celular para filmar a policías que estaban arrestando a 4 personas fuera de su casa porque pensó que la policía estaba actuando impropiamente.  Dice que un policía usaba su pistola mientras hablaba con 4 jóvenes.    Un policía le pidió su teléfono celular diciendo que era “evidencia”.  Fue arrestado por rehusarse a dárselos.  Le dió el teléfono a su amigo y nunca se lo entregó al oficial.  El contenido de lo filmado fue puesto en YouTube.

 

Comentaristas legales estuvieron de acuerdo que arrestar al Sr. Duchine fue inapropiado. El Sr. Duchine fue entrevistado por oficiales de asuntos internos que investigaban al policía por mala conducta.   Expertos legales de los programas noticiosos estuvieron todos de acuerdo que el Sr.  Duchine no debió ser arrestado y que EN CALIFORNIA  NO ES ILEGAL FILMAR A LOS OFICIALES DE POLICIA.  Podría ser ilegal si en el proceso de filmación, el que filma interfiere con las tareas propias del oficial.

 

Una Corte Federal de Apelaciones dictó en otro caso que un hombre podía registrar una demanda contra 3 policías por violar sus derechos civiles.  El abogado Simon Glik filmó a oficiales de policía que arrestaban a un hombre joven  después de escuchar a personas que les decían a los oficiales de policía que no lo siguieran lastimando.  El se rehusó a la orden del oficial de no seguir filmando y fue arrestado por perturbar la paz y contribuir a la fuga de un prisionero.  El fiscal y la Corte Municipal desecharon los cargos. El juez dijo “El hecho que los oficiales estuvieran molestos porque los estaban filmando durante un arresto…no hace que el ejercicio de un derecho de la Primera Enmienda Constitucional sea crimen.”

 

El Juez Federal dijo que existe un derecho constitucional de filmar a oficiales de policía que llevan a cabo sus labores en público.  También dijo que hay casos en las cortes federales que también claramente han decidido que toda persona tiene derecho constitucional a filmar a oficiales de policía durante su trabajo en público.  El Sr. Glik registró una queja con el departamento de policía pero el asunto jamás fue investigado.  Después registró una demanda de derechos civiles por violar sus derechos constitucionales bajo la primera y cuarta enmienda de la Constitución, como también por enjuiciamiento malicioso e injustificado.  Los oficiales acusados pidieron al juez que desechara la demanda afirmando que, como oficiales de policía, tienen inmunidad a enjuiciamientos por actos realizados durante su trabajo.  El juez negó su petición.  El juez también dijo que la filmación del Sr. Glik de las acciones de la policía tuvo lugar en un lugar público y no interfería con el arresto.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.  

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PARENTS CAN BE ARRESTED WHEN THEIR CHILDREN MISS SCHOOL

Article 17-02

¡No Se Deje!

California law requires school aged children to be enrolled in and to attend school.  Violations of the mandatory school attendance law permit prosecutors to initiate juvenile court actions against the child and to file criminal charges against the parents.  While the primary purpose of mandatory school attendance laws is to ensure that the children of California are properly educated, there are other reasons for these laws.  Requiring school attendance also reduces crime by minors and allows parents to know where their children are.

 

The District Attorney of Orange County and The Orange County Sheriff collaborated with local police departments to arrest several parents for violating the mandatory school attendance laws.  These parents were arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allowing their children to have too many unexcused school absences.  The parents were arrested after their children had arrived in school and were released without bail in time to be available for their children by the end of the school day.  If convicted, these parents could be placed on probation, be sentenced to up to one year in jail and required to pay a fine of up to $2,500.

 

The prosecutors accused these parents of failing to attend meetings with school officials to discuss their children’s attendance problems and of failing to take action to ensure their children attend school regularly.  Two of the parents had been personally informed by a police officer that continued unexcused absences by their child could result in their arrest.  The children in these cases were in elementary and middle schools in Orange County.  The arrests confirm the policies of the District Attorney and the Orange County Sheriff to aggressively enforce the mandatory school attendance laws of California.

 

The law does provide for certain exceptions to mandatory school attendance.  Students under the age of 18 can be lawfully absent from school during school hours if they are with a parent or guardian, if they are on an emergency errand for a parent, if they are in an emergency situation such as an accident or fire, or if they are in a vehicle in interstate travel.  Students that have school authorized work permits are allowed to be absent during school hours if they are going to work or on the job.

 

Minors in California are also subject to nighttime curfew laws.  While California does not have a statewide curfew law, many cities and counties do.  Nighttime curfew laws require anyone less than 18 years old to be in their homes or other appropriate housing facility before the curfew time established for that city or county.  Parents and minors should determine if their city and/or county have a nighttime curfew and the requirements of those laws.  Like mandatory school attendance laws, nighttime curfew laws also provide many sensible and legitimate exceptions to the curfew time.

 

Every parent and guardian of minor children should know the requirements of the mandatory school attendance laws and nighttime curfew laws.  ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

  

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.  

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