Did a Local Manufacturer Violate Federal Law with a Sudden Layoff?

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Employees at the Store Kraft plant in Beatrice, Neb., were stunned to find out on Monday morning that Monday would be their last day on the job. Such short notice may be against federal law and entitle the laid-off workers to back pay and benefits for up to 60 days.

Under the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act), employers of more than 100 employees are required, in most instances, to give workers 60 days of notice in the event of a plant closing or a mass layoff.

Press coverage of the plant closing appears to show that Store Kraft is roughly at 100 employees. If Store Kraft had more than 100 employees, then it is very possible that their former employees may have a case under the WARN Act. The closing of the Store Kraft factory is devastating for its workers and hurtful to Beatrice and the surrounding community, but former workers may have a claim against Store Kraft for the abrupt manner in which the employer shut down the plant.

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Examining Workers’ Compensation’s ‘Grand Bargain’ and the Upcoming Election

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Here’s why people should support candidates who will protect workers’ rights. Understand that the ongoing workers’ compensation issues faced by state legislatures are not going away, so state legislatures are the front lines when it comes to making sure workers’ compensation systems are not diluted even more for injured workers and their loved ones.

Here’s some background. Over 100 years ago, workers’ compensation law was developed across the United States. Nebraska was actually one of the pioneering states, back when we were more progressive.  Workers’ compensation was viewed as the “Grand Bargain,” with several presumptions on how the system should work. A January 2014 LexisNexis Legal News Room Workers Compensation Law blog post addresses these presumptions. The blog itself is a respected neutral source on workers’ compensation issues.

While employers and insurance companies are chipping away at the protection workers’ compensation systems offer to injured workers and their loved ones through stalling tactics such as disputing if an injury happened at work or just straight out refusing coverage, those same interests are bending the ears of each state’s politicians to further erode the “Grand Bargain.”

Year in and year out, business and insurance groups cause a large number of bills to be filed that take away benefits from workers or make it more difficult for workers to obtain benefits or take control of their treatment for work injuries.

A recent study’s results, written in the same blog by the same author, reinforces what many injured workers, their loved ones, and their attorneys already know: essentially that workers in New Mexico (and I would argue that this is easily applicable to injured workers in many states) are no longer benefitting from the “Grand Bargain.”

The Grand Bargain Is Out of Equilibrium

“An important part of the ‘grand bargain’ between employers and employees within the workers’ compensation arena is the idea that just as the wear and tear on an employer’s machinery ought to be reflected in the price of the employer’s goods or services, so also should the wear and tear on the employer’s work force. A product’s price should reflect the total cost of production, including the costs associated with work-related injuries and illnesses. The Seabury study adds weight to the argument that the grand bargain is out of equilibrium, that workers’ compensation benefits do not adequately replace what a worker loses through his or her injury, that the physical and economic costs associated with work-related injuries and illnesses are not being fully addressed, and that the injured worker is at least partially subsidizing the overall cost of America’s goods and services with his or her lost income.”

The bottom line from this respected author is that workers’ compensation benefits should not be reduced, made more difficult to obtain, etc., when workers who get injured already make less money over a 10-year period of time than workers who aren’t injured.

So let’s elect legislators who will both restore and support the “Grand Bargain” for injured workers and their loved ones.

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Protecting Workers from being Destroyed by the Work Schedule

Senator Tom Harkin

Today’s post comes from guest author Paul J. McAndrew, Jr., from Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

I wrote the post below as an editorial in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Because The Scheudles That Work Act is of national importance I want to make sure this issue receives the attention that it deserves by promoting awareness of it as broadly as possible. I hope you’ll take the time to read my editorial and pass it along to concerned citizens in your area.

Workers deserve some certainty in their work schedules. Why? Because we all have need to plan for child care, time for school, transportation, or simply time to pay bills and manage the household. It’s basic fairness.

But don’t you, a friend or an acquaintance work a job with unpredictable and irregular work schedules? You’ve probably noticed that irregular and on-call scheduling are increasingly common. It’s especially common in the fastest-growing areas of our economy—- cleaning, janitorial, retail and restaurant work.

These scheduling practices can devastate the worker and her/his family. The practices demand the worker choose between his job or his family. They often lead to the worker being fired.

Vermont and San Francisco have already passed laws to help employers and workers avoid this devastation.

Senator Tom Harkin has now proposed The Schedules That Work Act to help workers balancework duties with family duties. The Act helps both workers and employers by:

  • Protecting all employees from retaliation for requesting a more flexible, predictable or stable schedule.
  • Creating a process under which an employer considers a worker’s schedule request in a way that’s sensitive to the needs of the worker and her/his family. For example, schedule requests based on caregiving duties, health conditions, pursuing education or the need to meet the demands of a second job, must be granted, unless the employer has a good business reason for denying it.
  • Compensating retail, food service, and cleaning workers for at least four hours of work if an employee reports to work when scheduled for at least four hours but is sent home early.
  • Providing that retail, food service, and cleaning employees receive work schedules at least two weeks in advance. Though schedules may later be changed, one hour’s worth of extra pay is required for schedules changed with less than twenty-four (24) hours’ notice.
  • Providing workers an extra hour of pay if scheduled to work split shifts or non-consecutive shifts, within a single day.

Kudos to Senator Harkin! Some politicians and billionaire-driven PACs parrot “Iowa values” as a campaign slogan. Senator Harkin, on the contrary, uses those values to create legislation like the ADA and The Schedules That Work Act.

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Taking A Stand For Workers – Partners Earn National Recognition Through Service

New WILG Officers Are Sworn In. Pictured from left to right: President Michael Galpern, President-Elect Matthew Belcher, Treasurer Alan Pierce, Secretary Michael Gruber

Several of our attorneys recently attended the Workers Law & Advocacy Group (WILG) Annual Convention, held at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara. At this conference, Micheal Gruber was elected and sworn in as WILG’s new Secretary.

Senior Partner Edgar Romano received a Special Recognition award.

Senior Partner Catherine Stanton and Micheal Gruber each received a Presidents Award, presented by WILG’s outgoing President Charles Davoli.

WILG’s full slate of new officers is:

  • President Michael Galpern
  • President-Elect Matthew Belcher
  • Treasurer Alan Pierce
  • Secretary Michael Gruber

WILG provides a unique opportunity for attorneys to share knowledge and ensure that we are doing everything we can to advocate for our clients. We are proud to support this effort to ensure that workers’ rights are protected in every corner of our nation.

Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group

WILG is the national non-profit membership organization dedicated to representing the interests of millions of workers and their families who, each year, suffer the consequences of work-related injuries or occupational illnesses and who need expert legal assistance to obtain medical care and other relief under workers’ compensation programs. WILG is a network of like-minded advocates for workers’ rights, sharing information and knowledge, a sense of commitment and kinship, and networking to help each other and our clients.

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Ebola Outbreak: Are You Prepared And Protected?

I have been carefully following the Ebola outbreak, both the cases in the United States and those around the world. I am saddened to see anyone suffer from this horrible virus, but the preventable infections, including the infection of multiple health care workers in Dallas, are particularly alarming. Health care workers are on the front lines of our fight against this deadly disease and their bravery should be recognized. They are an infected patient’s first point of contact with a hospital and are in close contact with infected patients during their struggle, often having to work with blood and bodily fluids, the primary methods of transmittal. 

The lack of preparation on the part of some of our healthcare institutions has been extensively covered in the news. According to reports from Dallas, the hospital where the first patient was admitted had a complete absence of protocols for caring for patients with Ebola. This lack of preparation has put thousands of people at risk of infection and at least potentially contributed to in the spread of the outbreak in the United States from one patient to at least three. But the failure lies not only with local hospitals, it is also due to a slow and uncoordinated effort by our Federal government.

Even if existing protocols had been followed in Dallas, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, admits that the Federal guidelines are inadequate. The Centers for Disease Control is revising its protocol for the treatment of Ebola patients, but the recommended steps will take time to fully implement. The CDC’s current protocol was originally developed by the World Health Organization for the treatment of infected patients in facilities in rural Africa, not in busy American hospitals.

Even before the comprehensive protocols are developed and implemented, our health care workers should to be trained on the basics and given the proper equipment for their own protection. For example, nurses must be trained in and practice the complicated and tedious getting in and out of hazmat suits. Training must happen quickly, as the situation could become dire – as of today we only have 4 hospitals in the United States that are fully equipped with a pre-trained staff. Those hospitals can treat a total of 9 Ebola patients. We are just not equipped for a large domestic Ebola outbreak.

Further, as this CNN video below explains, health care workers are not the only ones at risk. Because Ebola can survive on surfaces like doorknobs, tables and fabrics long after an infected person has touched them, many locations may need to be disinfected in the coming weeks as the true extent of the outbreak becomes known. Just last week a group of airline cabin cleaners at LaGuardia Airport went on strike because of the possible health risks of cleaning surfaces touched by Ebola-infected passengers. Like health care workers, the workers who are in charge of the disinfection process should follow the Federal guidelines once they are released.

 

In addition to the possibility of Ebola infection, working in extraordinarily difficult conditions is highly stressful and the complicated new procedures could lead to injury. We urge all workers to be extremely cautious when training on and implementing new procedures.

If you are a Health Care worker involved in an accident or occupational injury, please consult us regarding your financial and medical rights. Workers are entitled to know about their rights under the law, whether it is from a traumatic injury or from occupational conditions due to repetitive activity at work over time. There are deadlines to filing a claim so please contact Pasternack, Tilker, Ziegler, Walsh, Stanton & Romano, LLP as soon as you can.  

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Giving Back: Senior Partner Catherine Stanton Joins EAC Network Board

Catherine Stanton Joins EAC Network BoardAs reported in Newsday, Senior Partner Catherine M. Stanton has joined the Board of Directors of EAC Network. Catherine is a long-time supporter of EAC Network and was honored at the agency’s annual Light of Hope Luncheon in 2013 for her outstanding support. She serves on the event’s Committee each year and has always been an invaluable friend to EAC Network.

ABOUT EAC NETWORK

Founded in 1969, EAC Network is a not-for-profit human service agency with a network of 70 programs throughout Long Island and New York City. Last year, EAC Network helped over 57,400 people of all ages. Among those the organization assisted were children who have been physically or sexually abused, senior citizens needing support, people struggling with substance abuse and/or mental illness, youth in the foster care system, persons on public assistance seeking financial independence, adults and youth who are under or unemployed, individuals needing help to mediate disputes and families in crisis. For more information about EAC Network, please call 516.539.0150, visit www.eac-network.org, facebook.com/eacnet, or our Twitter handle @EACNet.

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Attorney Frank Francis To Lecture On Workers’ Compensation

Associate Michael “Frank” Francis

Associate Michael “Frank” Francis

Associate Frank Francis will be lecturing on October 22nd at a continuing legal education event hosted by The LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York’s Solo and Small Law Firm Practitioners Committee.  The event is entitled 10 Things Every Solo and Small Firm Practitioner Should Know About.

Event Details Are:

October 22nd and 29th
5:30 – 9:45 P.M.
Capell Barnett Matalon & Schoenfeld
225 West 35th Street, 16th Floor

Registration details will be provided by the organizers shortly.

The Wednesday, October 22nd session is eligible for 4 CLE Credits and topics discussed will be:

  • Wills, Trusts & Estates
  • Personal Injury
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Family Law

The Wednesday, October 29th session is eligible for  4 CLE Credits and topics discussed will be:

  • Ethics
  • Negotiation
  • Criminal Law
  • Immigration

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Immigrant children lack legal representation, rights groups allege in lawsuit

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

Border crisis Demonstration

Demonstrators march near the White House after a news conference of immigrant families and children’s advocates. Meanwhile, in Seattle, a coalition of immigrant rights groups is suing the federal government over the lack of legal representation for minors during deportation hearings. (The Associated Press)

SEATTLE — A coalition of immigrant rights advocacy groups is suing the federal government over the fact that few minors have legal representation during deportation proceedings.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Seattle on behalf of eight plaintiffs, all minors. The plaintiffs are from Mexico and Central America, and they range in age from 10 to 17.

At deportation hearings, immigrants must hire their own lawyers or find someone to represent them pro bono, while the federal government has attorneys arguing for them to leave the U.S.

The groups say as a result, thousands of immigrant children end up with no legal representation at deportation proceedings every year. And they say the issue could be compounded with the recent influx minors attempting to enter the country through the southern border.

The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security did not immediately comment.

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