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LA POLICÍA NO TIENE EL DEBER DE APLICAR LAS ÓRDENES DE CORTE PARA PROTEGER A LOS INDIVIDUOS.

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Archive: Jun 2017

LA POLICÍA NO TIENE EL DEBER DE APLICAR LAS ÓRDENES DE CORTE PARA PROTEGER A LOS INDIVIDUOS.

 

Artículo 17-18

¡No Se Deje! ®

Jessica Gonzales demandó a la ciudad de Castle Rock, Colorado porque la Policía rehusó actuar para aplicar una orden de restricción de la corte contra su violento esposo.  La orden protectora de la corte requería que Simón Gonzales estuviera alejado de la casa de ella y sus niñas y también decía, “La Policía deberá usar todos los medios razonables para protegerla y a sus niñas.” Simón Gonzales secuestró a sus tres hijas de su casa y, varias horas después, les disparó y las mató.

 

Jessica Gonzales ya les había mostrado a los oficiales policiacos la Orden de Restricción de la Corte y les solicitó ayuda.  La ley de Colorado requiere que la policía arreste a cualquiera que viole una orden de restricción. La Sra. Gonzales dijo que los oficiales de policía no parecían muy preocupados.  Le dijeron que llamara nuevamente en unas horas si las niñas no regresaban a casa.

 

Simón Gonzales finalmente llamó a Jessica para decirle que estaba con las niñas en un parque de diversiones muy conocido. Jessica llamó a la policía y les pidió buscar a las niñas y traerlas a casa.  Le dijeron que no podían porque el parque no estaba en su jurisdicción.  Rehusaron su solicitud de llamar a la policía de esa jurisdicción.  Después de llamar tres veces, la policía le pidió llamarlos otra vez a medianoche si para entonces las niñas no llegaban a casa.  Ella manejó hasta la estación de policía después de su cuarta llamada  y de nuevo les dijo a los oficiales de la orden de restricción y de nuevo les pidió ayuda antes de irse a casa.

 

A las 3:20 de la mañana, Simón condujo hasta la Estación de Policía de Castle Rock y comenzó a disparar al edificio con una pistola semiautomática que recién había comprado. Los oficiales de Policía le dispararon y lo mataron y encontraron los cuerpos muertos de las tres niñas en su camión.

 

El Jefe de Policía dijo que Simón Gonzales recientemente había sido citado por ser un conductor violento y por entrar sin permiso a una sección privada del Departamento de Policía.

 

La Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos falló  que la Sra. Gonzales no tenía  “El derecho” de obligar a la policía a aplicar la orden de restricción.  Dijeron que “ni la Constitución de Estados Unidos ni alguna ley Federal le da a ella o a sus niñas el derecho a protección policíaca.”  También dijeron que los estados no tienen el deber de proteger los derechos de un individuo por la violación de terceras partes.

 

Grupos de mujeres y defensores contra la violencia doméstica han expresado su escepticismo y decepción con la decisión. Dicen que ahora  las mujeres que tienen órdenes protectoras de la corte contra los esposos violentos quizás no tienen ninguna seguridad.  Otros han dicho que dado que a los oficiales de policía se les paga de nuestros impuestos, se les debería requerir que proporcionen protección individual a quienes pagan impuestos.

 

Activistas de los Derechos de las Mujeres han dicho que la lucha contra la violencia doméstica no tiene sentido si la policía no está obligada a actuar. Jessica Gonzales razonablemente asumió que ella sería protegida por la orden de la corte.  Las órdenes de la corte no significan nada si los oficiales de la policía deciden que legalmente no es obligación aplicarlas. Esta sentencia de la Corte Suprema debería de ponernos nerviosos porque la policía, según parece, no tiene que aplicar las órdenes de corte si no quieren. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®

 

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.

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A RARE EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION CASE

Article 17-17

¡No Se Deje!

Federal employment discrimination laws are usually used to protect minority group members from unlawful treatment by employers.  These laws typically only apply to employers who have 15 or more employees.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency that enforces these laws. Some time ago the EEOC filed a rare lawsuit against the Hampton Inn Hotel for unlawfully firing 3 white workers.  The EEOC attorneys accused the owners of the hotel of firing the workers because they were white; a fact which the owners believed makes them lazy. The EEOC also contends that the owners believed that “Hispanics work harder.”

 

In the vast majority of these cases, employers are accused of unlawful discrimination against non-white employees and job applicants.  In this case, the fired white workers were hired to work in the laundry and housekeeping departments.  They were soon fired and replaced by Latinos.  Within months all workers in those departments were Latinos.  The EEOC attorney also accused the hotel owners of not keeping required employment documents.  He criticized the hotel’s actions saying “Employers cannot choose employees based on the color of their skin or their ancestry.  This form of blatant discrimination clearly violates federal law.”

 

Immigrant rights representatives have warned that although this case seems to indicate that Latinos are preferred by some employers, it is only because they can pay them less and avoid the cost of providing health insurance and other benefits.  This case also demonstrated that the government will protect the rights of all individuals that are unfairly judged by the color of their rather than the quality of their work. Stereotypes and generalizations are unfair because they can never be true for everyone in the group.  Not all “Latinos work harder” and not all “Latinos will work for less.”

 

Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  It requires that men and women that perform substantially equal work in the same place to be paid equally.  It is unlawful to discriminate against people because they are more than 40 years old and qualified workers with disabilities.  The 1991 Civil Rights Act created the right to sue employers and receive money to compensate victims for lost wages and even more money to punish employers for violating their rights.  It also allows workers that win in court to have the employers pay their attorneys fees.  These laws apply to private, state, and local government employers and educational institutions.

 

Employers that violate federal employment laws can be forced to pay the victimized workers back pay, which is the amount that the victim would have earned without the employer’s misconduct.  In some situations the employer can be required to hire or reinstate a victim of illegal discrimination.  If hiring or reinstatement is not appropriate, guilty employers can be ordered to pay “front pay” which is compensation for future loss of wages for a reasonable period of time or until the victim starts another job.  Always consult an employment law attorney if you think you are the victim of employment discrimination. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®.  

 

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.  

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RARO CASO DE DISCRIMINACION LABORAL

 

Artículo 17-17

¡No Se Deje! ®

Las leyes Federales contra la discriminación laboral usualmente son usadas para proteger a miembros de grupos minoritarios del tratamiento ilícito de parte de los patrones.  Típicamente estas leyes solo aplican a patrones que tienen 15 o más empleados.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission-EEOC (en español Comisión para la Igualdad de Oportunidades de Empleo) es la agencia que aplica estas leyes.  En cierta ocasión, EEOC registró una rara demanda contra el Hampton Inn Hotel por despedir ilegalmente a tres trabajadores blancos (anglosajones).  Los abogados de EEOC acusaron a los propietarios del hotel de despedir a los trabajadores por ser “blancos”; un hecho que los propietarios creían que los hace “flojos”. EEOC también alegó que los propietarios creían que “los Hispanos trabajan más duro.”

 

En la mayoría de estos casos, los patrones son acusados de discriminar ilegalmente a empleados y solicitantes de trabajo que no son blancos.  En este caso, los trabajadores blancos despedidos habían sido contratados para trabajar en los departamentos de lavandería y de camareros.  Pronto fueron despedidos y reemplazados por Latinos.  En pocos meses todos los trabajadores en esos departamentos eran Latinos.  El abogado de EEOC también acusó a los propietarios del hotel de no mantener los documentos de empleo requeridos.  El abogado criticó las acciones del hotel diciendo “Los patrones no pueden escoger a los empleados basándose en el color de la piel o de su descendencia.  Esta forma de flagrante discriminación claramente viola la ley federal.”

 

Representantes de derechos de los inmigrantes han advertido que aunque este caso parece indicar que los Latinos son preferidos por ciertos patrones, es solamente porque les pueden pagar menos y evaden proveerles seguro médico y otros beneficios.  Este caso demostró que el gobierno protegerá los derechos de todas las personas que son injustamente juzgadas por su color en vez de la calidad de su trabajo. Los estereotipos y generalizaciones son injustos porque jamás pueden ser ciertos para todos en conjunto.  No todos “los Latinos trabajan más duro” y no todos “los Latinos trabajarán por menos.”

 

La ley Federal prohíbe la discriminación laboral basada en la raza, color, religión, sexo o país de origen.  Requiere que hombres y mujeres que ejecutan un trabajo substancialmente igual en el mismo lugar se les pague igual. Es ilegal discriminar a las personas porque tienen más de 40 años de edad y a trabajadores calificados que tengan discapacidades.  El Decreto 1991 por los Derechos Civiles dio origen al derecho a demandar a patrones y recibir dinero que compense a las víctimas por la pérdida de salarios y en ciertos casos más dinero aún para castigar a los patrones por violar sus derechos.  También permite que los trabajadores que ganan en corte hagan que los patrones paguen los honorarios de sus abogados.  Estas leyes aplican a patrones privados, estatales y de los gobiernos locales así como a instituciones educativas.

 

Los patrones que violan la ley Federal de empleo pueden ser obligados a pagar salarios retroactivos a los trabajadores perjudicados, que es la cantidad que la víctima habría ganado de no ser por la mala conducta del patrón.  En algunas situaciones se puede exigir que los patrones reinstalen a la víctima de la discriminación ilícita.  Si la contratación o el reinstalo no es apropiado, a los patrones culpables se les puede ordenar que paguen “front pay” que es compensación por la pérdida futura de salarios por un período razonable de tiempo o hasta que la víctima comience en otro trabajo.  Siempre consulte con un abogado en leyes laborales si usted cree que es víctima de discriminación laboral. ¡NO SE DEJE! ® 

 

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO

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Different Types of Pain and Workers’ Compensation

Pain. We all think we know what it means—but do we? You know what it means to you, but pain is subjective. Everyone feels it differently, and the manner in which it is experience reflects the particular physiological and psychological make-up of the individual, the trigger for the pain, along with other underlying factors that may not be easy to observe or uncover. You can feel your own pain, but not someone else’s.

Observe, for example, healthy women’s different responses to normal, uncomplicated childbirth, an experience shared by many. One woman claims to have felt no pain; another found childbirth to be rather painful, yet a positive experience; and a third claims that the pain of childbirth was the worst pain imaginable and something she would not want to repeat. Is one correct and another a liar? Who knows why these women felt the same experience so differently? In this example, the pain is fairly short-lived and in the vast majority of cases (but not all) disappears when the birth is complete. Not so, however, in many cases of on-the-job injuries.

Evaluating pain in relation to disability in a Workers’ Compensation case may be problematic, not only because pain is subjective, but because its cause may or may not be readily observed. Pain associated with a work-related injury or illness may become chronic. Chronic pain may be an ongoing symptom of a physical injury that has not, and may never be completely resolved, causing permanent disability. Or the original injury may have healed, leaving a legacy of debilitating pain that has no physical/biological explanation. And what might be debilitating pain for one person could, in theory, be reasonably tolerable in another.

Pain as a Factor in Determining Permanent Disability in a Workers’ Compensation Case

When determining the extent of a worker’s permanent disability, it is important to understand the two types of chronic pain: that which has a physiologic explanation, and that which does not.

1.) Physiologic pain can be further divided into two types:

  • Neuropathic pain, which is caused by nerve damage, and may manifest as burning sensation, numbness, or feeling of heaviness throughout the pathway where the nerve runs. The damage, when caused by an injury, may be the result of trauma to the nerve, inflammation, or infection.
  • Nociceptive pain is caused by damage to other bodily tissue that contains pain receptors. When the tissue is damaged, it causes the firing of those receptors, which send the message from the injured area of the body to the brain, via the spine, which causes the injured person to feel pain in the damaged area. This may occur as a result of a failed back surgery or a variety of other conditions, such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/ Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (CRPS/RSD), scar tissue that has formed around nerve roots, or various conditions of the spine.

2.) Non-physiologically based chronic pain, or “somatic symptom disorder,” has no known bio-physiological explanation and persists long after the underlying injury has healed. And yet it is just as real and debilitating as physiological pain.

A claimant will need to document any pain in medical records throughout the treatment period. Workers’ Comp carriers often routinely deny claims for chronic pain, but if the pain clearly made its first appearance after the occurrence of the injury or illness that is the subject of the claim, it should be covered. Even if it was a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated by the injury, it should be included in the claim. Don’t accept a denial as final. Talk to your lawyer about disputing it.

Chronic Pain and Whole Person Impairment Rating

Chronic pain should be included by a physician when determining the percentage of impairment a patient has suffered. A WPI (whole person impairment) rating is based on a rating system based on the AMA Guides, which then may be increased up to 3 percent for pain beyond that which is associated with the underlying injury on which the claimant’s impairment rating is based. Pain can only be used as a add-on to the existing impairment; the determination should be arrived at by adding together the percentage of impairment for the underlying injury with the percentage of impairment that can be attributed to pain (not to exceed 3 percent).

An attorney negotiating a permanent disability settlement involving a chronic pain condition will work to ensure that maximum consideration is given.

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What is AB 1124?

Prescription medications are a large part of many Workers’ Compensation cases. With thousands of drugs on the market, many being actively promoted to doctors by the pharmaceutical companies that hold the patent on them, how does a doctor determine which is the best drug to prescribe? Every year, the US Food and Drug administration approves large numbers of new drugs, the majority of which are essentially the same as a previously approved drug, but which have been reformulated, often in a minor way, as patents expire on older versions and generics containing the same active ingredient become available. Furthermore, new information often becomes available concerning potential problems with both brand name drugs and their generic version. These are sometimes in the form of interactions with other drugs or serious side effects; but the biggest pharmaceutical drug problem facing the nation today is the rising tide of opioid addiction.

Establishing a Formulary

California Law AB 1124, passed in 2015 and scheduled to be fully implemented by July of 2017, is an attempt by state lawmakers to create a formulary—a list of prescription medications that are proven to be effective treatments for conditions suffered by injured workers that is based on solid medical evidence that are also cost effective. The most important considerations behind passing this law are the toll that over prescribed opioid drugs are taking on the injured, the rising cost of all types of prescription medications, and ensuring that injured workers get the most effective treatment to get them back on the job as soon as possible.

How Can an Evidence-based Formulary Contribute to Improved Medical Treatment of Injured Workers?

AB 1124 is intended to prevent unnecessary prescription of potentially addictive drugs and to ensure that injured workers have access to evidence-based medical treatment by creating a formulary that is regularly reviewed and updated to include new treatments and exclude those found to be dangerous or ineffective, while providing timely benefits to claimants with minimal need for them to turn to the dispute process. Doctors treating Workers’ Compensation patients will be required to choose treatments that have been scientifically proven beneficial for the injury or disease for which they are being prescribed by consulting state guidelines set forth in the Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule (MTUS), which will include information on the effectiveness, dosing, frequency, and duration of use, along with other pertinent information.

The California formulary to be employed in state Workers’ Compensation cases under AB 1124 is based on other well-established evidence-based formularies from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) Washington Department of Labor and Industry, Official Disability Guidelines (ODG), and California Department of Healthcare Services (MediCal).

Simplifying the System and Protecting Injured Workers from Unintended Negative Consequences

The formulary will simplify the prescribing of medications and treatments and offer protections against prescribing errors and overprescribing of certain drugs, such as opioid pain killers, benzodiazepines, and certain muscle-relaxers with the potential to be habit forming and while ensuring that new treatments and the latest medical knowledge are reflected in the guidelines. This does not mean that the drugs excluded from the formulary will be out of reach for patients for whom alternative drugs are not effective, but they will need a pre-authorization before these prescriptions can be filled. The formulary will also prevent the prescribing of unnecessarily high-priced patented pharmaceuticals when there is no evidence that they are superior to a less expensive generic version.

The new system should reduce the necessity for disputes between a claimant and the insurer over the appropriateness of a particular treatment their doctor is recommending. The law requires a quarterly updating of the formulary; but as with any bureaucratically administered program, there will be certain —but hopefully limited—situations in which the formulary may lag behind the current state of medical knowledge. And there could be delays in the approval process, which could potentially prevent some patients in need from getting immediate access to an excluded drug.
All in all, a well-designed formulary system should improve the quality of medical care to injured workers. But there will continue to be situations in which disputes arise, especially in the early phases of the program.

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How California Workers’ Compensation Reform (SB 863) May Affect Your Claim

Back in 2012, the California State Legislature undertook a dramatic reform of the state’s Workers’ Compensation system. The new law, SB 863, which took effect the following year, contained provisions designed to reduce costs to the employer/insurer, while offering a mix of improved benefits and unfortunate restrictions to the injured claimant.

As a result, while the total amount paid out per claim has increased significantly across the nation, it has remained fairly static in California, largely due to a reduction in the amount of medical benefits paid for claims involving more than seven days of time lost from work, which offset other increases in payouts. In a recent issue of The Insurance Journal, Ramona Tanabe of the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) says she believes that this reduction can be credited to the new law. Some of the provisions of SB 863 to reduce costs per claim included:

  • A reduction in the fee schedule rates for ambulatory surgery centers;
  • Elimination of separate increments for implantable medical devices, hardware, and instruments used in spinal surgeries;
  • Implementation, over a period of years, of a professional services fee schedule, based on a resource-based relative value scale.

Permanently Disabled Workers Enjoy Higher Payouts

At the same time, SB 863 increased the amount of permanent disability benefits for injured workers, which Tanabe speculates was partially responsible─along with a trend toward higher wages in the state─ for a per claim growth in benefits of 5 to 6 percent each year in 2014 and 2015.

Independent Medical Review is No Longer Subject to Dispute

So, you may benefit from the reform if you are permanently disabled; however, you may run up against some obstacles when it comes to getting the medical care that your doctor feels is appropriate. Under the new law, any dispute concerning what medical treatment your Workers’ Compensation carrier will pay are now to be determined by an independent medical review process, the Utilization Review (UR), in which an outside physician will determine, without the benefit of examining or even meeting you, whether a particular treatment will or will not be paid. Any medical treatment that has been denied by UR may only be resolved solely by an Independent Medical Review (IMR), again by an outside physician who has never examined you. Th IMR determination is not subject to further dispute. While legislators expected this new process to reduce per claim expenses, this has yet to be demonstrated, according to the WCRI.

Another California law, AB 2411, passed in 2015 and mandated to be in effect by July 2017, will establish an evidence-based drug formulary designed to ensure that injured workers are prescribed the most effective and medically current treatment for their particular condition and to reduce the number of disputes.

Exclusion of Certain Categories of Ad-ons

Another of the many changes to the law is that add-ons, which in the past could increase the amount of your lump sum payout for a permanent disability, have been limited to exclude impairment ratings for psychiatric disorders, sleep problems, or sexual dysfunction that you have suffered as a consequence of your injury.

An Evolving Law

The law is evolving, as some of its provisions that were scheduled for implementation over an extended period come into effect, and as claimants and their attorneys turn to the courts for rulings on how various provisions are to be interpreted. The law is complex and, at times, confusing, especially for the claimant who is trying to navigate the process without the benefit of legal counsel. Your best bet at is to keep your lawyer involved at each step of the process, to ensure that you are getting everything the law allows.

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