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Ricardo Valadez fue parado y citado por un oficial de policía por “obstruir el tráfico”. Un registro del interior del camión del Sr. Valadez reveló varios inmigrantes indocumentados. El Sr. Valadez también fue acusado de “transportar inmigrantes ilegales”. Su abogado registró una petición para excluir toda evidencia encontrada en el camión aseverando que la detención fue ilícita. El abogado dijo correctamente que un oficial de policía debe, con pocas excepciones, tener una “sospecha razonable” que una ley ha sido violada antes de parar a un conductor. Esto es requerido bajo la 4a enmienda a la Constitución de Estados Unidos.
El policía dijo que paró al Sr. Valadez porque iba a 45 mph (millas por hora) en una zona de 55 mph. Dijo que sintió que a 45 mph, el Sr. Valadez estaba impidiendo el tráfico y podría causar un accidente por los vehículos que se le acercaban rápidamente por detrás. El oficial no intentó rebasar el camión del Sr. Valadez ni vió que otros carros intentaran rebasarlo. El juez del juicio en la Corte Federal de Distrito coincidió con el policía de que hubo una sospecha razonable que se había violado una ley de tráfico, que justificaba la parada.
La Corte Federal de Apelaciones no estuvo de acuerdo y falló que el Sr. Valadez tenía razón. La corte falló que “la policía no puede hacer una parada por supuestamente violar una ley estatal que prohíba la obstrucción del tráfico cuando la velocidad del conductor era solo moderadamente abajo del límite de velocidad”. La corte también dijo “la falla del oficial en no entender la evidente ambigua ley que le toca hacer cumplir no es objetivamente razonable”. La corte concedió la petición de excluir toda la evidencia obtenida después de la parada ilegal y mencionó muchos otros casos similares en otros estados.
Este caso es muy importante por varias razones. Todos deberíamos recordar que todas las personas, sin importar su estatus migratorio están protegidas por la ley. En este caso, el Sr. Valadez tenía derecho a un juicio, a hacer que la ley se aplicara apropiadamente en su caso, y a apelar la decisión errónea del Juez de Distrito. Tenía el derecho y la oportunidad de probar que lo que hizo el oficial de policía fue una violación a la Constitución de E.U. y que el juez del juicio estaba equivocado al aprobar la actuación del oficial. Y, lo más importante, fue capaz de lograr que se le desestimara la acusación criminal de “transportar extranjeros ilegales” porque la evidencia de la ofensa fue obtenida ilegalmente y no era utilizable en corte.
Este caso, y muchos otros, demuestran el beneficio de consultar con abogados expertos para determinar sus derechos y los procedimientos para ejercerlos. Se demostró que un oficial de policía y un juez Federal estaban equivocados y sus decisiones fueron corregidas por jueces Federales de Apelaciones. El hecho que el Sr. Valadez estaba “transportando extranjeros ilegales” no justifica la violación de su derecho constitucional de dejarlo en paz a menos que exista una sospecha razonable de que violó la ley.
Negar a los oficiales de policía la capacidad de usar evidencia obtenida ilegalmente es la mejor manera de persuadirlos a obedecer la ley. Si comprenden que las personas culpables quedarán libres porque la evidencia encontrada fue obtenida ilegalmente, ellos, por regla general, seguirán la ley.
JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADORead More
¡No Se Deje!
Ricardo Valadez was stopped by a police officer for “impeding traffic”. A search of Mr. Valadez’ truck revealed several undocumented immigrants. Mr. Valadez was also charged with “transporting illegal aliens”. His attorney filed a petition to exclude all evidence found in the truck asserting that the stop was unlawful. The attorney correctly stated that a police officer must, with few exceptions, have a “reasonable suspicion” that a law has been violated before stopping a driver. This is required under the 4th amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
The police officer stated that he stopped Mr. Valadez because he was going 45 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. He said that he felt that at 45 mph, Mr. Valadez was impeding traffic and could cause an accident by cars approaching him rapidly from behind. The officer did not try to pass the Valadez truck nor did he see any other cars try to pass it. The trial judge in the Federal District Court agreed with the police officer that there was a reasonable suspicion that a traffic law had been violated which justified the stop.
The Federal Appeals Court disagreed and ruled that Mr. Valadez was correct. The court ruled that “the police cannot conduct a traffic stop for allegedly violating a state law prohibiting the impeding of traffic where the driver’s speed was only moderately below the speed limit”. The court also said “the officer’s failure to understand the plain unambiguous law that he is charged with enforcing is not objectively reasonable”. The court granted the petition to exclude all evidence obtained after the unlawful stop and mentioned many similar cases in other states.
This case is very important for several reasons. We should all remember that all persons, no matter what their immigration status are protected by the law. In this case, Mr. Valadez had the right to a trial, to have the law properly applied to his case, and to appeal the erroneous decision of the District Judge. He had the right and the opportunity to prove that what the police officer did was a violation of the U. S. Constitution and that the trial judge was wrong in approving the officer’s conduct. And, more importantly, he was able to get the criminal charge of “transporting illegal aliens” dismissed because the evidence of that offense was obtained illegally and not usable in court.
This case, and many others, demonstrates the benefit of consulting with a qualified attorney to determine your rights and the procedures for enforcing them. A police officer and a Federal judge were proven wrong and their decisions and conduct were corrected by the Federal Appeals judges. The fact that Mr. Valadez was “transporting illegal aliens” does not justify the violation of his constitutional right to be left alone unless there is a reasonable suspicion that he violated the law.
Denying police officers the ability to use illegally obtained evidence is the best way to persuade them to obey the law. If they know that guilty people will go free because the evidence they found was obtained illegally, the will usually follow the law. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.Read More
Automation, for the most part, has been a good thing. Technology has enabled the human race to complete incredible feats across every industry, from remote warzone operations to surgical procedures via laparoscopy. As technology continues to outpace human workers, however, many industries are afraid of losing too many jobs to machines – or of becoming obsolete altogether. Here are the top seven industries at risk of losing jobs in the future.
Driverless cars were once the stuff of science fiction, but today they’re an inevitability. Major vehicle manufacturers have toyed with the idea of a self-driving car for years, but Ford announced an actual date for when their autonomous vehicles will hit the market – 2021. Ford is even discussing plans for fully autonomous ride sharing. Experts believe autonomy won’t end with passenger vehicles but will eventually extend into public buses and even airplanes. This means thousands of vehicle operators potentially out of work in the near future.
With virtually thousands of software programs and apps available for accounting and bookkeeping, the outlook for humans in this industry is bleak. Computer-based accounting is more accurate, convenient, and cost-effective than hiring a real person, and it has become the method of choice for individuals and businesses around the world. Bookkeeping software also has the ability to gather and analyze data, on top of myriad other applications business owners need in the modern age. It would seem human bookkeepers simply can’t keep up with today’s demands.
Hundreds of restaurants around America have already integrated technology to optimize the customer experience, from bartender bots to placing orders on iPads. Today’s technology is making mechanical hands operate more smoothly, potentially replacing restaurant chefs, hosts, and wait staff with robots. The head of Carl’s Jr. has already expressed an interest in removing human workers from the restaurant chain completely.
Security is one industry that technology has heavily focused on for years. From sophisticated alarms that connect to mobile devices to comprehensive surveillance systems, technology has vastly improved today’s security systems. Knightscope, an advanced digital security company, is currently building robots capable of roaming a premises and handling trouble. While the world certainly appreciates the enhanced security, human security guards likely don’t.
Hundreds of telemarketing companies are significantly cutting costs by making the switch from human callers to “robocallers,” or automated voice systems. Robocallers get the job done at a fraction of the price – and they don’t get argumentative with rude customers. It’s a win-win for companies but will likely cost thousands of telemarketers their jobs.
News stations have to release immense amounts of content to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced world. Major new publications and services are turning to artificial intelligence reporters to help produce this content. Companies such as Narrative Science offer software programs that collect data and turn it into intelligible news stories. In the future, major news companies may eliminate thousands of human journalists and replace them with AI content machines.
In the world of robotics and automation, there’s a high chance that manufacturing companies will replace factory and assembly line workers with robots. Robots and machines already complete a large percentage of work at factories and may eventually replace human workers altogether. Product manufacturers can eliminate the costs of daily wages, not to mention avoid human errors and worker injury liabilities.
While there’s no longer any question of technology taking thousands of jobs away from humans, many believe that it will generate just as many – if not more – than it takes. The digital, data, and tech industries will create jobs we can’t even comprehend yet for the future of the working class. However, it’s difficult to say what the future holds for humans in these seven at-risk industries.Read More
Personal injury is an inherent hazard of playing football. The risk of traumatic head and brain injury, torn ligaments, and severe fractures follow all football players throughout their professional careers. The National Football League (NFL) especially places players in danger, pressuring them to return to the field as quickly as possible after an injury – often before injuries have time to heal. Now, NFL teams face a significant financial threat in the form of workers’ compensation.
Playing football may not be a typical career choice, but it is a real occupation for the 1,696 players in the NFL. As such, it abides by the federal rules of workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation has always been an option for players and retired players in the NFL. Despite players understanding the inherent risks of playing football professionally, they can still file for workers’ compensation after sustaining an injury during work-related activities. Traditionally, an individual workers’ compensation award might cost a team about $20,000. The changing nature of claims players are filing, however, could now cost teams millions every year.
As doctors’ understandings of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and their long-term effects on patients have advanced, so has the number of NFL players citing this in their compensation claims. Not only are football players inherently at more of a risk of TBI than other people, but they are also at risk of a rare (and debated) condition called second impact syndrome (SIS).
SIS occurs when someone sustains a second concussion before a first concussion has fully healed. When an athlete suffers a head injury and returns to normal play without letting the injury heal, he or she risks sustaining a second head injury. Two head injuries so close together can cause brain herniation, diffuse cerebral swelling, and even death.
Another threat to NFL players is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This degenerative brain disease accrues over time from several head injuries. CTE causes dementia, depression, and erratic behavior. TBI, SIS, and CTE have long lasting cognitive and health effects on patients.
As physicians learn more about cumulative head and brain traumas and how they can lead to lifelong cognitive difficulties for NFL players, the NFL faces dozens of large workers’ compensation claims. NFL players and ex-players are using new information about their injuries to secure hefty workers’ compensation amounts, some in the millions.
California, the state where the most teams play, is the only state that allows players to file cumulative trauma cases for workers’ compensation. California workers’ compensation also is unique because claimants do not need to have worked for a California-based team to file a claim. Due to these lax rules, several players and attorneys have moved cases to California to pursue claims. There are currently hundreds of such players lined up for a chance to file for cumulative injury workers’ compensation claims.
As more and more players file for disability benefits and hefty workers’ compensation awards, many wonder how the NFL will respond. One response has been Commissioner Roger Goodell recently announcing a $100 million endorsement to develop new technology and research head injuries. The effects of workers’ compensation claims haven’t only led to the NFL shelling out hefty amounts of money – it’s also led to public scrutiny of the NFL’s actions.
Today, there are several class action lawsuits against the NFL for allegations of fraud and negligence when it comes to player injuries. More than 5,000 former NFL players joined the lawsuit, accusing the NFL of hiring physicians to report injuries as less serious than they were. As the NFL comes under fire for its history of covering up injuries and faces major workers’ compensation threats to its finances, players are hoping for justice for injuries above all.Read More
Workplace injuries come in various shapes and forms, from a pulled muscle lifting heavy boxes to catastrophic injury at a construction site. America’s workers are at risk of personal injury in virtually every industry. Federal and state workers’ compensation laws serve to protect injured workers, covering their medical costs and other related losses. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation cannot take back the damages a workplace injury inflicts. One such irreparable damage is America’s most common workplace injury – hearing loss.
Prolonged exposure to loud noises can cause permanent hearing damage and loss. The auditory nerve and its sensory components cannot handle loud noises for long periods of time and eventually sustain irreversible damage. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a real problem for thousands of people who work in industries that require the use of loud tools and machinery. Long-term exposure to loud noises can cause permanent hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing/buzzing in the ears), and inner-ear problems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hazardous levels of noise pollution exist in the workplace for approximately 22 million workers each year. This makes occupational noise the most common work-related hazard. The CDC reports that workers in the mining sector have the greatest number of hearing impairment injuries (17%), followed by the construction industry (16%), and the manufacturing sector (14%). Three percent of workers the CDC surveyed, in both the mining and construction sectors, reported moderate to severe hearing impairment.
In the mining sector, an average of 76% of workers are exposed to hazardous noise – the highest amount in any sector. More than 40% of all workers the CDC monitored in different mining environments are exposed to noises above the permissible exposure limit, which is 90 a-weighted decibels, or dBA. Miners have to listen to drilling noises at above 90 dBA for hours on end, greatly increasing the likelihood of sustaining NIHL and other related injuries.
One construction worker, Jeff Ammon, is an example of how debilitating noise-related injuries can be. Ammon worked in the construction industry for 32 years, surrounded by jackhammers, air compressors, and saws his entire working life. He began to wear ear protection after experiencing symptoms of damage, but by this time, it was too late. Ammon now suffers from piercing pain in his inner ear, as well as ringing and dizziness. He takes medication for pain management, which he says doesn’t help much, as well as for anxiety and depression. Ammon no longer likes to leave his soundproof basement.
The CDC, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are working together to come up with solutions for the occupational NIHL occurring across America. Technology to reduce hearing injuries already exists, including noise barriers and sound-protection equipment. Studies show the majority of workers suffering hearing levels worked in moderate noise levels, not high.
One issue appears to be lax rules in the workplace, where employers don’t enforce ear protection in moderate to low noise conditions. It’s too easy for workers to remove their ear protection without admonishment from employers. Another problem is the cost of implementing noise-reduction equipment, especially for smaller companies.
Until employers take initiatives to enforce ear protection or take other measures to protect workers from harmful noise levels, employees must take their hearing health into their own hands. Early signs of hearing loss include ringing or humming noises after leaving work, having to shout for coworkers to hear you from an arm’s length away, and temporary loss of hearing. For workers who have already sustained permanent hearing and ear damage, contact a work injury attorney to see if you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation disability benefits or file a claim against a negligent employer.Read More
¡No Se Deje!
An undocumented immigrant woman, working as a cook for Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, complained to her employer about being sexually harassed by a supervisor. During the investigation of the sexual harassment complaint, the employer discovered that the worker’s Social Security number was not issued to her name. The supervisor that had sexually harassed the worker only received a warning while the victim of the sexual harassment was terminated.
Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, pregnancy, age, or disability. Sexual harassment is considered sex discrimination. The Federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and State Fair Employment Agencies can sue employers for unlawful discrimination. Individuals may also sue employers directly but must first file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of knowing of the discrimination.
The attorneys for the restaurant asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit because she was undocumented and had been fired because immigration law made it was illegal for her to work. Federal Judge, John R. Tunheim, refused to dismiss the lawsuit stating that even undocumented workers can sue under the Title VII anti-discrimination laws. The judge stated that:
The EEOC attorney in the case, John Hendrickson said that the attorneys for the restaurant decided to defend against the sexual harassment lawsuit by attacking the victim for her immigration status. He successfully argued that the victim’s immigration status does not provide any information or evidence about the employer permitting sexual harassment of its employees. He also said that we cannot allow lawyers to “pursue wildly irrelevant lines of inquiry especially when…the result might be to scare people away from challenging illegal conduct.
This case reveals a tactic that is used often against undocumented workers. When they complain about being the victims of illegal actions, the guilty parties go after them because they are undocumented. In this case, when the victim complained about the sexual harassment, the employer investigated her immigration status instead of the sexual harassment.
This case is very important to the immigrant community. Immigrants know that their immigration status is often used against them to deprive them of benefits such as salary owed to them, salary increases, overtime pay, and promotions to higher job classifications, which also pay more. Landlords often refuse to return deposits on apartment rentals and contractors often refuse to pay immigrant subcontractor money they are owed under construction contracts. This case is just one of many in which Federal Courts have declared that undocumented immigrants have the right to sue for damages, injuries, contract rights, and many other benefits under the law and that their immigration status will not be considered.
ALWAYS CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED OR IF SOMEONE TREATS YOU UNFAIRLY. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.Read More
Una mujer inmigrante indocumentada, que trabajaba como cocinera para Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, se quejó con su empleador de ser acosada sexualmente por un supervisor. Durante la investigación de la queja de acoso sexual, el empleador descubrió que el número del Seguro Social de la trabajadora no estaba emitido a su nombre. El supervisor que la había acosado solamente recibió una advertencia (warning) mientras la víctima del acoso fue despedida.
Es ilícito discriminar a una persona basado en su raza, color, religión, sexo, origen nacional, embarazo, edad, o incapacidad. El acoso sexual es considerado discriminación por sexo. La Comisión Federal de Igualdad de Oportunidades de Empleo (en inglés Federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, EEOC) y las Agencias Estatales de Empleo Justo pueden demandar a empleadores por discriminación ilícita. Las personas también pueden demandar directamente a los empleadores pero primero deben registrar una queja de discriminación con el EEOC dentro de los 180 días después de saber de la discriminación.
Los abogados del restaurante le pidieron al juez rechazar la demanda porque ella era indocumentada y que había sido despedida porque las leyes de inmigración dictaban que era ilegal que trabajara. El Juez Federal rehusó rechazar la demanda diciendo que aún los trabajadores indocumentados pueden demandar bajo el Título VII de las leyes anti-discriminación. El Juez dijo que:
El abogado del caso en EEOC, John Hendrickson, dijo que los abogados del restaurante decidieron defenderse de la demanda de acoso sexual atacando a la víctima por su estatus migratorio. Con éxito argumentó que el estatus migratorio de la víctima no provee ninguna información o evidencia con respecto al asunto que el empleador permitiera el acoso sexual de sus empleados. También dijo “no podemos permitir a los abogados perseguir desatinadamente preguntas irrelevantes especialmente cuando…el resultado podría atemorizar a las personas y causarles que no se opongan a una conducta ilícita”.
Este caso revela una táctica que usan a menudo contra trabajadores indocumentados. Cuando ellos se quejan de ser víctimas de acciones ilícitas, los culpables, al no poder desmentir la acusación, atacan a las víctimas por ser indocumentados. En este caso, cuando la víctima se quejó del acoso sexual, el empleador investigó su estatus migratorio en lugar del acoso sexual.
Los inmigrantes saben que su estatus migratorio a menudo es usado contra ellos para privarlos de beneficios como salarios adeudados, incrementos salariales, pagos de trabajo extra, y promociones a puestos calificados más altos con mejores salarios. Los dueños de apartamentos a menudo niegan devolver los depósitos por la renta de apartamentos y contratistas rehúsan pagar a inmigrantes el dinero adeudado por subcontratos de construcción. Este caso es solo uno de muchos en que las Cortes Federales han declarado que los inmigrantes indocumentados tienen derecho a demandar por daños, lesiones, derechos contractuales, y muchos otros beneficios bajo la ley y que su estatus migratorio no se tomará en cuenta.
SIEMPRE CONSULTE CON UN ABOGADO TAN PRONTO COMO SEA POSIBLE SI CREE QUE SUS DERECHOS HAN SIDO VIOLADOS O SI ALGUIEN LO TRATA INJUSTAMENTE.
JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADORead More