More than $1.6M in unpaid overtime for 1,543 workers in the Gulf Coast recovered by US Labor Department

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from www.dol.gov

News Release

WHD News Release: [07/10/2014]

Ongoing initiative reveals evasive pay practices in the temporary staffing industry

HOUMA, La. — B & D Contracting Inc., a labor recruiting and staffing agency that caters to oil field services and maritime fabrication facilities along the Gulf Coast, has agreed to pay $1,660,438 in back wages to 1,543 current and former employees. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor found that the company engaged in improper pay and record-keeping practices that resulted in employees being denied overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The employees were assigned to client work sites throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to work as welders, pipe fitters and shipfitters.

Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division’s New Orleans District Office found the company mischaracterized certain wages as per diem payments and impermissibly excluded these wages when calculating overtime premiums, denying employees earned overtime compensation.

"Temporary staffing agencies serve valuable and legitimate business needs in today’s economy," said Dr. David Weil, administrator for the Wage and Hour Division, "But employers may not manipulate these arrangements and use evasive pay practices to avoid paying workers their rightful wages."

"The labor violations we found in this case are not unique to B & D Contracting Inc.," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the…

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National Prevention Council Annual Status Reports

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from www.surgeongeneral.gov

Every year, the Council submits a report describing national progress in meeting specific prevention, health promotion, and public health goals defined in the National Prevention Strategy to the President and the relevant committees of Congress.

National Prevention Council’s 2014 Annual Status Report

The National Prevention Council’s 2014 Annual Status Report illustrates how Council departments are working across the federal government to incorporate health in diverse sectors like housing, transportation, and education to advance the Strategy and influence the health of individuals, families, and communities. In addition, the report highlights how partners across the country are advancing the National Prevention Strategy in organizations ranging from health care systems to workforce agencies and national foundations to local non-profits.  

Read the National Prevention Council 2014 Annual Status Report (PDF – 4.8 MB) 

The above file is currently undergoing remediation for compliance with Section 508. The remediation will be complete by July 31, 2014. In the interim, should you need accessibility assistance with the file, please contact the Office of the Surgeon General at Surgeon.General@hhs.gov.

Previous Annual Status Reports

Read the National Prevention Council 2012 Annual Status Report  (PDF – 490 KB)

Read the National Prevention Council 2011 Annual…

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Lawsuit claims DEA paid man with crack

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from krqe.com

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – Federal agents paid a struggling addict in crack cocaine for his help with an undercover investigation into a Las Vegas, New Mexico drug operation, a new lawsuit claims.

According to court papers filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, Aaron Romero, 38, was approached by DEA agents in 2011 to assist with drug deals in exchange for portions of the drugs obtained by authorities. But Romero’s participation in “Operation Smack City” reignited a previous crack addiction as he became a victim of recklessness on behalf of DEA agents, causing severe emotional and physical harm, the lawsuit said.

“The United States government and the defendants affirmatively and intentionally established a pattern of distribution of crack cocaine to (Romero) in order to utilize his addiction to crack cocaine to further the investigation and to ‘stack drug related charges’ against him,” the lawsuit said, which names five DEA agents.

Romero was later charged with distribution of drugs but federal prosecutors dropped the charges in January, according to his attorney, Erlinda Ocampo Johnson.

The lawsuit says the arrangement was in violation of DEA policy since the agency did not get prior approval from prosecutors.

Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, said the office declined to comment on the case.

“He was targeted because he was a known drug addict,” Johnson said….

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OSHA Chief: Inequality in America Is About Workplace Hazards, Too

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nbcnews.com

Image: Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attends a full committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23 in Washington, DC.
Image: Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attends a full committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23 in Washington, DC.

Inequality and poverty have taken center stage in American politics in the years since the recession. Fast food workers have raised the profile of low-wage work, cities and states around the country are raising the minimum wage, and elected officials in both parties have made the struggles of poor Americans core political issues.

But David Michaels, Ph.D., M.P.H., who leads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under the Obama administration, says that workplace inequality is more than just wages. In an interview, Michaels, who is responsible for enforcing federal laws to project workers from illness and injury, says the regulatory structures he oversees aren’t sufficient to protect vulnerable workers from harm.

NBC: The political conversation about inequality in recent years has focused on wages. You’ve made the point that when addressing inequality, we should focus more on workplace health and safety issues. Why?

Michaels: Wages are clearly a core component of the discussion of inequality and the ability to get into and stay in middle class. But workplace health and safety issues also have an enormous impact. Workplace injury and illness can push workers out of middle-class jobs and make it hard to enter into the middle class in the first place.

Studies show that workplace injury…

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Applicants Whose WTC Claim Was Dismissed As Untimely May Be Entitled To Reopen Claims

Previously, any claims for which the associated Form WTC-12 was received after September 13, 2010 were time-barred. Those workers were not entitled to benefits. These claims will now be reopened and considered timely.

On November 13, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed significant protections for World Trade Center workers into the Workers’ Compensation Law under Article 8-A. The legislation extends and enhances workers’ compensation eligibility and benefits for World Trade Center workers. Most notably, the legislation reopens the World Trade Center Registry; extends the deadline period for filing Form WTC-12, Registration of Participation in World Trade Center Rescue, Recovery and/or Clean-up Operations, with a deadline to September 11, 2014; reopens previously time-barred World Trade Center claims and considers them timely; and adds qualifying conditions to the law.

If your claim was previously dismissed as untimely, contact us immediately to review for a reopening since you may be entitled to benefits.

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New Deadline For September 11th Claims

As we approach another anniversary of September 11, we will mark the day with a true feeling of sadness and tremendous loss, as that was a day that changed us all forever. Some of us lost loved ones, some sacrificed their health, and all of us lost our sense of security. Once again we will see the news coverage of those who perished on that fateful day and see the grim procession of officials, family, and friends of those who were lost as they make their way down to Ground Zero.

We will hear the heartbreaking countdown of the more than 2,000 names of those who died read aloud by their loved ones. We will cry with them as we watch their struggles with grief, and we will recall exactly where we were and what we were doing on that dreadful day. We will have trouble remembering what our lives were like before the Twin Towers fell, when the fear of flying was the fear of a plane malfunction or pilot error.  

We will have trouble remembering what it was like not removing our shoes at the airport or of restrictions on liquids in our carry-on luggage. Now, almost 13 years later, there still are thousands who have been affected by the aftermath of that horrific day. For those who sacrificed their health for the rescue, recovery and clean up of the World Trade Center for the first year through September 12, 2002, first and foremost I want to continue to extend my gratitude for what you did for our city and our country. Your service will not, and should not, ever be forgotten.

But, I also want to encourage you to preserve your right to Workers’ Compensation. If you are an employee or member of an entity that participates in the New York State Workers’ Compensation system, you should file a WTC-12 form whether or not you were injured, and whether you were a worker or volunteer. This applies to those who worked directly at Ground Zero, or at the Fresh Kills Landfill, on the barges and piers, and at the morgues. Unfortunately, there are slow-starting diseases and cancers that have been known to occur as a result of exposure to the toxins and carcinogens in the rubble and in the air.  

As a practitioner in Workers’ Compensation, my office continues to handle new claims regularly for serious medical conditions as a result of harmful exposures. Even if you have no symptoms currently, you still should preserve your future rights. The deadline to file this WTC-12 form is fast approaching – September 11, 2014. While New York State has previously extended the deadline, there is no guarantee that this will happen once again.

Please visit the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board website at www.wcb.ny.gov/WTC12, where you will find a link for the registration form. This form can be filled out on line, but then must be printed out, notarized, and received by the Board by September 11, 2014.  The Workers’ Compensation Board has set up a special hot line for any questions you might have regarding these issues. You can call tollfree, 1-855-WTC-2014. 

You have a right to protect your future as well as the future of your loved ones. If this doesn’t apply to you, I would ask that you please share this information with all those who might qualify so that no one is left worrying about their future.

 

 

Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

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WTC Workers & Volunteers MUST File By Sept. 11, 2014 To Open A New Claim

The World Trade Center Registry, which preserves workers’ compensation rights for those who performed rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations after the World Trade Center attacks will remain open until September 11, 2014.

On November 13, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed significant protections for World Trade Center workers into the Workers’ Compensation Law under Article 8-A. The legislation extends and enhances workers’ compensation eligibility and benefits for World Trade Center workers. Most notably, the legislation reopens the World Trade Center Registry; extends the deadline period for filing Form WTC-12, Registration of Participation in World Trade Center Rescue, Recovery and/or Clean-up Operations, with a deadline to September 11, 2014; reopens previously time-barred World Trade Center claims and considers them timely; and adds qualifying conditions to the law.

You should file a WTC-12 form whether you were injured or not, and whether you were employed or volunteered. This includes duty at Ground Zero, Fresh Kills Landfill, the barges, the piers, and the morgues.  The legislation also expanded the conditions covered to include:

  • Diseases of the upper respiratory tract and mucosae, including conditions such as conjunctivitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, vocal cord disease, upper airway hyper-reactivity, and tracheo-bronchitis, or a combination;
  • Diseases of the lower respiratory tract, including but not limited to, bronchitis, asthma, reactive airway dysfunction syndrome, and different types of pneumonitis, such as hypersensitivity, granulomatous, or eosinophilic;
  • Diseases of the gastroesophageal tract, including esophagitis and reflux disease, either acute or chronic, caused by exposure or aggravated by exposure;
  • any combination of such conditions; and
  • New onset diseases that develop in the future or result from exposure in the future, including cancer, COPD, asbestos-related diseases, heavy metal poisoning, musculoskeletal disease and chronic psychological disease.

The link to the form is: http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/forms/wtc-12.pdf

Any worker or volunteer with a WTC claim should contact us immediately to review the case and file appropriate paperwork BEFORE September 11, 2014 or you claim may be dismissed as untimely. 

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Medicaid Home Care Cuts Are Unjust, Lawsuit Says

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.nytimes.com

A federal class action lawsuit filed late Tuesday accuses New York State health officials of denying or slashing Medicaid home care services to chronically ill and disabled people without proper notice, the chance to appeal or even an explanation, protections required by law.

The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, names three plaintiffs: an impaired 84-year-old woman living alone in Manhattan, a frail 18-year-old Brooklyn man with severe congenital disabilities, and a 65-year-old Manhattan man with diabetes and a schizoaffective disorder. But it was brought by the New York Legal Assistance Group on behalf of tens of thousands of disabled Medicaid beneficiaries who need home health care or help with daily tasks like bathing and eating.

It represents a challenge to an ambitious Medicaid overhaul by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that shifted $6 billion in public spending on long-term services, including home care, to private managed care companies that are paid a fixed sum for each enrollee. The goal of the overhaul, which was set in motion in 2011, was saving money and improving the coordination of care. But advocates for aged and disabled people have complained that in the scramble for the most lucrative enrollees, companies are shunning frail people with the greatest needs and signing up those who could be given minimal services.

The lawsuit, filed against the state commissioners of the Department of Health and the Office of…

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