Transforming Apprenticeships for the 21st Century

UPS apprenticeship

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from social.dol.gov

On Wednesday, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited Pennsylvania to announce new actions to enhance job-driven training across America. A key focus of the president’s remarks was how apprenticeships are one of the clearest paths to good, high-paying jobs. As he mentioned, 9 out of 10 apprentices get hired for full-time jobs after completing their program, and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is more than $50,000. Expanding apprenticeship opportunities will give more Americans a chance to secure a foothold in the middle class.

Several new efforts will help double the number of apprenticeships over the next five years, a goal the president laid out in his State of the Union address. For the first time, the Labor Department is making $100 million available help more workers participate in apprenticeships. The grant competition will launch this fall and will be funded by fees employers pay through the H-1B visa program to hire temporary high-skilled foreign workers.

Using these existing funds, the new American Apprenticeship Grants competition will focus on partnerships between employers, labor organizations, training providers, community colleges, local and state governments, the workforce system, nonprofits and faith-based organizations. These partnerships will help expand tried-and-true apprenticeship models to newer, high-growth fields like information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing; making sure…

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Summer Means Safety Reminders for Teen Workers

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case, from Causey Law Firm.

L&I urges workplace safety for teens as summer hiring season nears

Teens are gearing up to search for summer jobs and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is urging employers, parents and others to support safety during “Safe Jobs for Youth Month” in May.

A total of 477 youth ages 12-17 were injured in the workplace in 2013, making this year’s observance more important than ever, said Mary E. Miller, occupational nurse consultant with L&I and a youth employment expert. Of the total, 156 were in the food and hospitality industries. The next largest total, 66, occurred in the retail trades. There were no fatalities.

“Teens are eager to work and may not question a workplace situation that doesn’t seem right,” Miller said. “We’re trying to ensure youth perform safe and appropriate work and employers, parents and teachers can all help.”

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a proclamation making May “Safe Jobs for Youth Month” across the state. More information is available at www.TeenWorkers.Lni.wa.gov. The agency also offers presentations from injured young workers for students. Miller can provide a separate talk for employers and teachers.

In recent years, the number of injuries has increased despite an overall decrease the past decade. Injuries in 2003 totaled 1,135. In 2011, injuries reached a low of 425 before increasing the next two years. Injuries range from lacerations, strains and sprains to more serious fractures and concussions, Miller said.

“Employers are eager to give young workers a start in the world of work” Miller noted. “The result is we need to continue to help employers provide teens with tasks appropriate to their age.”

In general, 14- and 15-year-olds may perform lighter tasks, such as office work, cashiering and stocking shelves. Work assignments for 16- and 17-year-olds can be less restrictive and can include cooking, landscaping, and some use of powered equipment and machinery. The limits on the hours of work for all minors vary by age.

Generally, if safety equipment other than a hard hat, eye protection or gloves is required, then it’s not an appropriate job for minors. All minors are prohibited from working with powered equipment such as meat slicers and forklifts, Miller noted.

In agriculture jobs, restricted job duties differ for youth. The agency has specific information on its website at its Agricultural Jobs for Teens page.

 

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Occupational Disease: New Cancer Study and Firefighters

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

Worker’s compensation has provided benefits or coverage for occupational diseases for generations.  In Wisconsin an occupational disease is one acquired as a result of working in an industry over an extended period of time. An occupational disease cannot result from a single incident, but rather it is the result of a disease process. Wisconsin has not excluded any occupational diseases from its worker’s compensation benefit provisions. One of those disease processes is cancer. 

Studies are done regularly to determine the cause of disease as medical science advances. A recent study concludes that smoke and chemical exposure by firefighters may cause higher rates of cancer among firefighters. Firefighters, while usually healthier than the general population, have a higher incidence of cancer. A presumption of employment connected cancer exists for firefighters in Wisconsin. The statute applies to any State, County, or municipal firefighter who has worked for ten years with at least two-thirds of the working hours as a firefighter who has cancer of the skin, breast, central nervous system, or lymphatic, digestive, hematological, urinary, skeletal, oral, or reproductive symptoms. For that firefighter whose disability or death is caused by cancer, the finding is presumptive evidence that the cancer was caused by employment. Note, however, no presumption exists for firefighters who smoke cigarettes or use tobacco products for claims after January 1, 2001. Benefits for firefighters include Temporary Total Disability, Permanent Partial Disability, and if the disease (either heart or lung) precludes a return to work, duty disability payable at 75% of the firefighter’s salary, may also apply. 

As medicine and science evolve, there may be more recognized “occupational” diseases and more workers and their families compensated for harm caused by the workplace.

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“No Trauma” Does Not Mean No Injury

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

I’ve been investigating Wisconsin and national fraud statistics in worker’s compensation to prepare for a national presentation I am making in Cape Cod in July. One fascinating and recurring basis for denial of worker’s comp claims (and potential claims against employees for fraud) stems from an insurance carrier’s review of the initial medical report.

Often the physician or emergency room nurse, physicians assistant or First Responder will ask an injured worker “Did you have any trauma?” If the answer to the question is “no”, the medical records will routinely indicate “no trauma”. This information is translated by the insurance carrier as a denial that an injury occurred. The level of medical sophistication for an injured worker is routinely limited. Most of my clients (and based on inquiries with other workers’ attorneys, their clients as well) believe a trauma is something akin to getting hit by a bus. They do not equate the notion of trauma with lifting a heavy object such as a table or a box. The criteria for traumatic injuries in most states, including Wisconsin, is that a single incident or episode caused the injury or aggravated a pre-existing condition beyond a normal progression. In many cases a lack of “traumatic injury” at the initial medical presentation is not an accurate indication of whether a traumatic injury actually occurred.

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Can I Get Fired For Filing Bankruptcy?

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

Low and middle income people are the last people to benefit from any economic recovery. For many economic recovery means a return to work the opportunity to put their household finances in order with steady income provided by a job. Unfortunately unpaid debts often mean that employees get garnished  or even having to file bankruptcy.

Congress intended for bankruptcy to allow for people to get a fresh start so they prohibited discrimination based on bankruptcy and even let employees sue employers for such discrimination. But this law is not as strong as other laws prohibiting discrimination on factors such as race or sex for two reasons.

First of all, your status as a debtor in bankruptcy must by the sole cause of job loss. Discrimination is difficult enough to prove already under either a motivating factor or proximate cause standardsole cause is more exacting than even the difficult proximate cause standard. If your employer has any other legitimate reason to fire you besides your bankruptcy, then a court will likely find the termination was lawful. The only way for an employee to preserve any type of discrimination case is not to give the employee a reason to terminate them because of their poor performance , attendance or poor attitude. But even good employees can get fired legitimate reasons such as restructuring and economicreasons.

Secondly most courts do not believe that bankruptcy discrimination prohibits employers from failing to hire employees based on bankruptcy.

Title VII and most state anti-discrimination laws state that a failure to hire based on certain protected categories is unlawful activity.

Finally in any discrimination claim, the employer needs to be aware of your protected status. In a bankruptcy discrimination case this means that your employer had to have known about your bankruptcy status prior to firing you. Some employees get fired because  employer doesn’t want to deal with a garnishment.  Most people, me included, think that such an action is wrong or unfair. But unless your employer knows that garnishment is linked to your bankruptcy status, then firing you based on that garnishment is legal  – unless the garnishment is a cover or pre-text for another unlawful reason.

I would encourage anyone reading this post to contact their U.S. Senator or Congressperson and ask them to change the bankruptcy discrimination statute to mirror other federal anti-discrimination laws such as Title VII.

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What Money Can’t Buy

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Michael J. Sandel, a professor of government at Harvard, has written an insightful book called What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (2012) about the “for-sale” sign that applies to almost everything that has value, from sky boxes in football stadiums to police cars in local communities. These days, everything seems to be fair game. For example, a woman allowed her forehead to be tattooed with a brand name for $10,000. Even the tattoo artist tried to talk her out of it.

Are there any moral limits on what corporations can buy, and what the public is willing to sell? Have we entered a great divide where corporate sponsors sit in heated sky boxes while the rest of us shiver during a heavy snow fall at a football game? Are we losing that sense of community of shared experiences?

Sandel summarizes the problem as follows: “Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life. What matters is that people of different backgrounds and social positions encounter one another, and bump up against one another, in the course of everyday life. This is how we learn to negotiate and abide our differences, and how we come to care for the common good.”

Somewhere along the way we (as a community, state and nation) have to decide whether we will continue to be polarized or whether we will work together for the common good. How we make that decision will determine our fate over the next several decades.

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Join Us In Supporting Cancer Research At The Relay For Life On June 7-8

I started writing to impart vital information to readers about Workers’ Compensation. As a practitioner in this field for almost 25 years, I want to provide guidance on procedure, insight to those who have been trying to maneuver within the system, and knowledge about benefits injured workers may be  entitled to if they get hurt on the job. 

In this post I will veer off topic to tell you about a very important event coming up next month – the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Charles Park in Howard Beach on June 7-8 starting at 6:00 p.m. I am proud to say that my law firm – Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP – is one of the proud sponsors of this event.   

I am sure that anyone reading this column has been either personally affected by cancer or knows of someone who has been. We have shared the fear, the shock, the anger and the determination of those who have been diagnosed with this disease. We have shared the tears – and in some instances the final acceptance – with loved ones that their personal fight was too big to win. The Relay for Life helps raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. It is a way for us to remember those who have lost their personal battle, to celebrate those who have survived, and to fight back against the disease that has affected us all.  

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the United States – accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths. In 2014, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 newly diagnosed cancer cases, and 585,720 cancer deaths in the United States. Needless to say, these statistics are staggering. We as a community need to pull together to help prevent any further unnecessary deaths. The Relay for Life is one event that allows our friends and families to get together for the common goal of raising money to fight cancer in a way that will be fun. We can share experiences with each other while having a sense of camaraderie. 

Here is the link – http://www.relayforlife.org/. Come join a team or create your own. If you don’t want to walk, you can be a volunteer to set up, coordinate, or clean up. If you can’t walk or attend, then please consider making a donation. You can dedicate a Luminaria bag — which can be personalized with a name, photo, message or drawing and are illuminated after dark – in memory or honor of a friend or loved one at the Relay for Life.   

The good news is that there are more than 14 million cancer survivors. The goal is to reduce the number of those who are diagnosed with cancer in the first place. Whatever role you choose to play in this fight is up to you, but this event shows that you don’t have to engage in the fight alone. You will meet people who have been caregivers and those who are survivors. We will meet as strangers, but leave as comrades in the fight against cancer.     

 


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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Are Forklifts Dangerous?

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) covers forklifts under the section called Powered Industrial Trucks, and you have to be certified to operate these lifts. The smaller ones you see weigh up to 7,000 pounds and they are so dangerous some experts consider them “inherently dangerous.”

It is in violation of federal law to operate a forklift if under the age of 18, and OSHA requires that you be specifically trained. See 29 CFR 1910.178. If operated properly, a forklift is no more dangerous than any other piece of heavy machinery. However, if the operator is not properly trained and certified bad things can happen. We now represent a young man who was allowed to operate a forklift without any certification and the forklift turned over on him and crushed him, damaging several internal organs and his spine. He survived, but he is partially paralyzed from the waist down. He will have a lifetime of pain. He has lost the use of both feet.

Other examples are workers being crushed when a forklift accidentally runs into them. The human body cannot withstand a crush impact from a 7,000 pound machine. If the lifts on the forklift are elevated with a heavy load, the potential for a tip-over is greatly increased, even if the operator is moving slowly. Never underestimate the power of a forklift.

For more information go to osha.gov and review Powered Industrial Trucks.

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