(844) 815-9632

Employer

Can You Be Fired for Having Your Period at Work?

'Every woman dreads getting period symptoms when they're not expecting them,' said Alisha Coleman, 'but I never thought I could be fired for it.' It's not a legal question often asked, but Coleman should know better than most. She was fired from a 911 call center in Georgia, allegedly after experiencing heavy menstrual symptoms related to the onset of menopause while at work. With help from the American Civil Liberties Union, she is now suing her former employer, the Bobby Dodd Institute, for gender discrimination. "I don't want any woman to have to go through what I did," Coleman stated. Working Woman According to her suit, Coleman was experiencing symptoms of premenopause at the time of her firing, which can include "irregular and unpredictable sudden onset menstrual periods, which could be heavy at times." In August of 2015, Coleman "unexpectedly experienced a sudden onset of her menstrual period that resulted in her accidentally leaking menstrual fluid on her office chair." She reported the event to her supervisor, who advised her to leave the premises to change clothing. Soon after her supervisor and HR Director warned her "that she would be fired if she ever soiled another chair from sudden onset menstrual flow." In April of 2016, some menstrual fluid unexpectedly leaked onto the carpet when Coleman got up to walk to the bathroom. Despite immediately cleaning the spot with bleach and disinfectant, Coleman was terminated, allegedly for her failure to "practice high standards of personal hygiene and maintain a clean, neat appearance while on duty." Workplace Legal Protections Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 amended the Civil Rights Act, barring discrimination of "women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." The question Coleman's lawsuit raises is whether either or both laws apply to women undergoing menopause. The Bobby Dodd Institute argued against that proposition in its motion to dismiss the suit, and said Coleman wasn't targeted for being female. A district court judge agreed and dismissed her case in June, ruling it was not clear that Coleman's treatment for "excessive menstruation was treated less favorably than similar conditions affecting both sexes," or that "male employees who soiled themselves and company property due to a medical condition, such as incontinence, would have been treated more favorably." The ACLU took up her case, filing an appeal on her behalf. "Employers have no business policing women's bodies or their menstrual cycles," said Andrea Young, ACLU of Georgia executive director in a statement. "Firing a woman for getting her period at work is offensive and an insult to every woman in the workplace ... That's wrong and illegal under federal law. We're fighting back." Related Resources: Find an Employment Lawyer in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Pregnancy Discrimination Warning Signs (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Reasons You Can't Be Fired From Your Job (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) When Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
continue reading

Can I Sue for a Heatstroke Injury?

Heatstroke is one of the more common causes for injuries over the summer. It occurs when a person's body temperature rises above 104 degrees due to sun/heat exposure. A person suffering from heatstroke requires immediate medical care. If left untreated, it can damage a person's brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. Fortunately, individuals can usually prevent heatstroke by finding ways to cool down before it's too late, such as finding some shade, hydrating, even jumping in a pool, or just taking a shower. However, it is not always possible to prevent heatstroke, and sometimes, another person, or business entity, could even be liable for it. Below, you'll find three examples of when a person might be able to sue due to a heatstroke injury. 1. Employees Without Climate Control In the employment context, employers are required to maintain safe working conditions for their employees. In non-climate control environments, this requires ensuring employees have sun protection, the ability to stay hydrated, and are able to get relief from the heat. Even when an employer makes every effort to prevent employees from suffering a heatstroke, if it happens on the job, the employee will likely be able to qualify for workers' compensation. 2. Kids and Supervision When children play outdoors during the summertime, generally, whoever is supervising the children could potentially be liable if a child is injured due to overheating in the sun. This is due to the fact that preventing it is as easy as making sure kids drink water and don't stay in the sun too long. During heat waves, schools will often hold recess indoors to mitigate this risk. Day care facilities, after school programs, recreational sports coaches, schools, and even individual babysitters and other parents can be held liable if a child in their care is injured. 3. Outdoor Activities and Events Businesses and event organizers can also face liability to individuals that suffer heatstroke at their events or on their premises. Generally, if there are outdoor features, or it is an outdoor event or business, consumer safety is important. Events need to make sure that there are heat relief areas that can help cool people down and help people hydrate. Businesses need to be cautious with outdoor activities and ensure they monitor, or minimally warn, consumers for heat injury. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) How to Avoid Heat Stroke: Elderly at Risk With Temperatures Soaring (FindLaw's Common Law) Fan Sues Dallas Cowboys for Burned Butt (FindLaw's Injured) NYC Inmate 'Baked to Death' in Hot Jail Cell: Report (FindLaw's Injured)
continue reading

Federal Court: Civil Rights Act Protects Gay, Lesbian Workers From Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Because it was enacted in 1964, many have wondered whether gay and lesbian workers were also protected under the law. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals answered that question this week, ruling that Title VII protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The court reasoned that the statute's ban on sex discrimination also prohibited sexual orientation discrimination because, among other reasons, the discrimination is based on outdated gender stereotypes. Here's a look: Stereotypical Discrimination The plaintiff in the case, Kimberly Hively, contends that she was passed over for full-time employment at Ivy Tech Community College because she is lesbian. Her central claim, as it pertains to Title VII, is that this discrimination was based on her sex or gender -- that, had she been a man, she would not have been discriminated against for being sexually attracted to women. And the majority found it persuasive: Viewed through the lens of the gender non-conformity line of cases, Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype (at least as understood in a place such as modern America, which views heterosexuality as the norm and other forms of sexuality as exceptional): she is not heterosexual ... Hively's claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing. The employers in those cases were policing the boundaries of what jobs or behaviors they found acceptable for a woman (or in some cases, for a man). Essentially, Hivey was still discriminated against based on her sex in that she did not conform to stereotypes about female sexual orientation. A Definitive Decision? The court's decision is groundbreaking. Until now, the majority of courts interpreting Title VII have held that it did not cover discrimination based solely on sexual orientation. While the Second Circuit found that sexual-orientation discrimination wasn't explicitly prohibited by Title VII, it recently found that gay workers who were subject to gender stereotyping still had the right bring sex discrimination claims. The Supreme Court has yet to decide the issue, but may need to soon, giving the disagreement between circuits. For now, the Seventh Circuit's ruling applies only to its own jurisdiction: Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Related Resources: Find Employment Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Seventh Circuit Holds That Title VII Forbids Anti-Gay Job Discrimination (The Washington Post) LGBT Worker Protections Missing in Mississippi and Most States (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Signs of Employment Discrimination (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
continue reading

Timeline for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

If your first thought after a work injury isn't, "When can I get back to work," it's probably, "When can I get paid for getting injured at work." Missing work is tough, especially if you're missing paychecks, too. If you got injured on the job, you probably know you can file a workers' compensation insurance claim. But how long is that going to take? While all cases are unique, here's a quick look at what to expect from your workers' comp claim. Your Steps The timeline for your workers' compensation claim begins at your injury, and there are some steps you'll want to take immediately to ensure your claim is reviewed and completed as quickly as possible. First, take care of yourself and seek any necessary medical attention, even if you're worried you can't afford it. Most states require employers or their insurance company to pay for an injured employee's medical bills as soon as they file a claim. So you do not have to wait until your claim is approved to receive compensation for medical costs. Second, report the injury to your employer, and, if possible, report the injury in writing and keep a copy of the report for personal records. Your employer is then required to offer you a claim form immediately. Make sure the claim form is filled out completely and specifically and that you file it as soon as possible. You should also keep a copy of your completed claim form for your records as well. Employer and Insurer Steps Once your employer receives your claim form, it is their responsibility to immediately notify their insurance company and arrange medical assistance and compensation for you. Your employer may also be required to complete and file a wage verification form with the insurer within a certain amount of time after your claim or compensation form. After receiving your claim, the insurer generally has 30 days to either accept or deny your claim and notify you of its decision. (Be aware this time limit can vary by state.) If your claim is approved, the insurer must start paying out benefits soon after. If your claim is denied, you can request a hearing to review the decision. There is a time limit on the request for a hearing, normally around 60 days after you received notice of denial. A hearing date will then be set, usually within 30 days of your request. After the hearing, the hearing officer normally has 15 days to make a final decision. If you need help filing a workers' comp claim, or if your claim has been denied, you may want to contact a local workers' comp attorney for advice. Related Resources: Hurt on the job? Have your injury claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) How Long Do I Have to Be Employed to Get Workers' Comp? (FindLaw's Injured) How Long Will Workers' Compensation Benefits Last? (FindLaw's Injured) When Is It Too Late to Sue for Injury? (FindLaw's Injured)
continue reading

What Can and Cannot Be Expunged From Your Criminal Record?

It's welcome news to many criminal defendants that they can have their record expunged. While expungement might not be perfect -- most law enforcement agencies will still be able to see your arrest history and any convictions -- it means potential employers will have a harder time seeing your mistakes. But which mistakes are eligible for expungement, and which will remain on your permanent record? General Information For the most part, expungement eligibility is determined by the severity of the crime and the person's criminal record. State law can vary, but expungement is normally available for crimes committed as a juvenile and most misdemeanors, so long as you don't have an extensive criminal history. Also, expungement is usually a one-time deal -- if you're convicted of crimes committed after expungement, those are likely to stay on your record. Arresting Information Just because you've been arrested doesn't mean you're guilty. But a record of your arrest may pop up on a background check. Luckily most states will expunge an arrest record, especially if there was no conviction. And expungement can be part of a negotiated plea bargain. Getting rid of that online mug shot, however, might be a tougher task. Conviction Information If you've been convicted of a crime, whether you can clear your record will come down to state and local rules on expungement. Some states allow you to expunge a DUI conviction, some do not. This can come up especially if you're trying to expunge an out-of-state conviction. And some states are more likely to expunge a conviction after a certain amount of time has passed. No matter where you live, however, felony convictions are very difficult, if not impossible, to get expunged. The main criteria for most expungement decisions is the severity and nature of the event for which expungement is sought. Felony convictions normally involve more serious crimes, making them harder to get off your record. The expungement process can be complicated, and it certainly helps to have an experienced criminal law attorney on your side. If you have questions about your criminal record or want to have it expunged, contact one today. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) The FindLaw Guide to Expungement (FindLaw PDF) Got Priors? How to Expunge Criminal Records (FindLaw Blotter) When Must You Disclose an Expungement? (FindLaw Blotter)
continue reading

Can I Get Workers’ Comp If I Work From Home?

You work from home but have an employer. One day, while at home, you trip over the dog running to answer the phone, and it is a work call. You're injured from the fall and apply for workers' compensation. Will your claim be denied? You can get workers' compensation if you work from home, but the location may complicate your claim. State statutes vary, and each claim is decided based on the specific details involved, so it is difficult to say in the abstract what will happen. Still, one contested Oregon case demonstrates the typical issues. Work-Related Injury People can and do apply for compensation for injuries sustained on the job but at home. The decision to grant or deny will turn on the wording of state statutes and your case specifics. The Oregon workers' compensation statute says that a compensable injury must "arise out of" and occur "in the course of a worker's employment." In Sandberg v. JC Penney, a woman actually did trip over her dog while going to her garage, where she kept her employer's materials. Her workers' comp claim was initially denied but on appeal the denial was reversed. The woman was a designer and worked in a studio for her employer only once a week, spending the rest of the time on the road or at home. In that case, the appellate court decided that her injury did arise out of and in the course of her employment because her home premises were also her work premises. The designer was required to keep materials at home as part of her job and once the home premises and the work premises are deemed one, "it follows that the hazards of home premises encountered in connection with the performance of the work are also hazards of the employment." Specifics Matter The appellate court concluded, "Here, because employer did not provide space for claimant to perform all of her work tasks, she was required -- as a condition of her employment and for the benefit of her employer-- to work in her home and garage." As you can see, specifics make all the difference. Someone who was not a designer or who did not have to travel might not have had the same outcome as Sandberg. It helps to have your claim reviewed by a lawyer so that you emphasize the important details in your case. Talk to a Lawyer If you're applying for workers' compensation, speak to a lawyer today. Get help and guidance. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Hurt on the job? Have your injury claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Workers' Compensation: Can I Sue My Employer Instead? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Workers' Comp Benefits and Returning to Work (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) What Types of Injuries Are Compensable Under Workers' Compensation? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
continue reading

Florida Bar Study Reflects Shameful Statistics for Young Women Lawyers

The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyer Division just released a random survey of young women lawyers who are 35 years or under or who have been practicing for five or less years.  The results reflect that 43% of the women surveyed reported experiencing some form of gender discrimination.  Not surprisingly, the survey has received national attention such as here and here. The ABA Journal summarized the findings of the survey as 43 percent said they had experienced gender bias in their careers. 40 percent said they had experienced insensitivity by their employer or supervisor. 37 percent said they had experienced lack of recognition of work-life balance. 17 percent said they had experienced harassment. 21 percent said they believed they were not being paid the same as their male counterparts. What is so sobering about these statistics is that they belong to the young women just entering the profession. The personal accounts shared by the women who participated in the survey, are not a shock to any woman reading this blog who became a lawyer twenty years ago. But the reality that gender bias is still pervasive and affecting a high percentage of young women lawyers entering the profession today is disturbing. The personal accounts included descriptions of being drunk-dialed by senior partners, offers by opposing counsel to run away together, or being assumed to be a court reporter or the boss’s assistant while seated at counsel table.  Many of the young women lawyers reported being called “blondie,” “little lady lawyer,” “honey,” or “sweetheart” by other attorneys and judges both inside or outside of the courtroom.  Women described being told they didn’t need to worry about making money because they either had or would have a husband to cover living expenses.   The Florida Bar President Ramon Abadin was quoted in the Sun Sentinel as saying that the 90 pages of comments in the report “were just sobering. It’s like a bucket of cold water.” Read the comments from the actual survey here. I for one, am embarrassed that women that have been in this profession for less than five years still have to endure this kind of discrimination. So how do we begin to resolve these problems? First, openly discussing them is a great start. Secondly, men in the field that are participating in this kind of behavior need to be exposed.  Finally, women that have been in the field for many years need to take stock and ask themselves if they are doing everything they can to affect change for themselves, other women in the field, and for women that will follow.   I believe that a culture of fear has existed among women lawyers for many years. This culture promotes women minimizing and criticizing any other woman that complains about bias. This culture promotes women staying silent rather than speaking up against blatant discrimination in fear of affecting their own advancement, losing a referral source, or losing a seat at the table of men. This hasn’t had the effect of stopping bias- it has allowed it to grow and fester. I do not intend to blame other women for what are obvious and intentional acts of discrimination but women have the power to reach out to help one another and there is simply no excuse for continuing to refuse to do so based on a false sense of fear. Even if a few of us succeed by remaining silent in the end we all lose. The post Florida Bar Study Reflects Shameful Statistics for Young Women Lawyers appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
continue reading

Santa Claus Sideswiped My Car! Accidents With Delivery Vehicles

It’s not easy delivering toys to children worldwide in a single night. So maybe Santa’s sleigh rolled a stop sign trying to save some time, and caught your car right on the rear fender. Did he stay long enough to give his insurance information? And since Santa was driving a delivery vehicle for work, how does that affect your injury claim? Here’s what you need to know if Kris Kringle crumpled your bumper: Frozen First Steps An accident with Santa, or any other delivery vehicle, is much like any other car accident. And your first steps after an accident are always crucial: Stay on the Scene: You’re probably in a rush yourself, but leaving the scene of an accident can be a crime. Inquire About Injuries: Check on the reindeer and Santa himself — make sure everyone is OK and call for medical attention if needed. Exchange Information: Make sure you get Santa’s insurance info and other relevant details like license and sleigh plate number, and provide your own. Gather Data: Get as much information about the accident as possible, including eyewitness statements from elves or anyone else who saw the accident, and document the scene with photos and notes. Make Contact: Santa may tell you he can take care of the damage and that there’s no need to get insurance companies involved, but not reporting the accident could revoke your insurance and, if the accident is serious, you should also contact the police so they can file a report. Deep Delivery Pockets Being hit by a delivery vehicle can offer different legal remedies if you’re injured. Not only is Santa’s insurance on the hook, employers can be held liable for their employees’ negligent acts. So, if one of the elves was behind the reins or Rudolph was making a delivery run, Santa and Santa Industries could be at fault. Even if the sleigh wasn’t on a delivery run, if it was being used “in the course of employment,” the company or employer can be sued along with the driver. Stay safe on the roads out there this holiday season. And if Santa runs into your Chevy instead of sliding down your chimney, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced car accident attorney. Related Resources: Injured in a car accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) What Kinds of Damages May I Claim for Car Accident Injuries? (FindLaw) FedEx Truck Crashes Into Bus in Calif.; 10 Killed (FindLaw’s Injured) 5 Car Accident Myths (FindLaw’s Injured)
continue reading

Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for Frostbite?

Workers’ compensation is theoretically available for any injury caused by your job, including frostbite. The extent to which you can ultimately recover will depend on how severe the injury is and how much time and expense it costs in lost work and healthcare. The specifics vary from state to state, and certain industries follow special standards, so you will have to look into the particular law that applies to you. But here are the basics on workers’ compensations claims, using frostbite as the example injury. Causal Connection, Not Casual Workers’ compensation claims are not lawsuits. If you are injured at work or by a task causally connected to your job, it is a benefit that is available to compensate for expenses. It is a kind of insurance claim. The key to getting compensation is a causal connection between work and injury. Read carefully — that is causal, and not casual. For example, if you work outdoors and, as a result of spending so much time outside, end up with frostbite so severe it keeps you from work and has you seeing specialists, chances are good your claim will be covered. If, however, you work in an office and just went vacationing in Mount Everest, where you got frostbite, do not file. There is no causal connection between your injury and your claim and, therefore, no benefit due to you. Workers compensation is only for work-related injury. Are You Covered? States do not all extend the benefit of workers’ compensation to everyone. Depending on where you live and what you do, it may not apply to you, unfortunately. There are states that require employers to cover undocumented workers, but very few, while others do not include domestic help in the covered worker category. Note too that worker’s compensation is for employees and many contract workers are not covered. Do You Need a Lawyer? As you can see, figuring out whether you can file a claim can be complicated. You do not need a lawyer to apply for workers’ compensation but it can help. Attorneys are expert administrators, accustomed to handling official forms and paperwork. A lawyer can ensure your claim goes smoothly and defend it if it is denied. It costs nothing to consult with counsel and the guidance could be very valuable. Related Resources: Hurt on the job? Have your injury claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Workers’ Comp Benefits Explained (FindLaw) Workers’ Comp Benefits and Returning to Work (FindLaw)
continue reading

Businessman’s $21 Million Brain Injury Verdict Threatened

A man who successfully sued a cruise line for a head injury may not see his $21 million in damages after all. The man’s former assistant has revealed that she lied about his brain injury for him before the trial and was then fired right before the case was going to be heard, reports The Seattle Times. James Hausman won $5 million in compensatory damages and $16 million in punitive damages for an injury he sustained due to a faulty sliding glass door on a Holland America cruise ship. The company, having learned from Hausman’s former assistant that he deleted emails, tampered with witnesses, and exaggerated the severity of his injury, is seeking to have the jury verdict overturned. Lying Now or Before Amy Mizeur, who served as Hausman’s personal assistant until just before the case went to trial, testified at a hearing in federal court in Seattle that her former employer ordered her to lie about injuries. She said she enrolled him for a brain-injury study although she knew he was faking seizures. Mizeur even admitted to documenting fake seizures in emails written to others, saying, “It was a show. I never saw him struggle.” The former assistant turned to Holland America after the trial was over and after she was fired, letting the insurer know that she had helped her former employer falsify evidence. But Hausman’s lawyer pointed out that she could hardly be trusted. After all, Meizer either lied after the trial or before, so she was not a reliable witness. What’s at Stake? The unanimous verdict in Hausman’s personal injury lawsuit was among the largest in recent memory in Seattle federal court. In addition to the punitive damages, Hausman, 61, was awarded $5 million for past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress. Now all of that is at risk as a court determines whether to dismiss the case or grant a new trial. Injured? If you have been genuinely injured in any setting — be it on a cruise ship or elsewhere — speak to a lawyer. Consulting with counsel costs nothing. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Brain Injury Symptims and Diagnosis (FindLaw) Brain Injury Lawsuit FAQs (FindLaw)
continue reading
12