Archive for the ‘General’ Category

CHECK OUT THIS POWERPOINT WITH ALL OF THE BASIC AND NOT SO BASIC INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA).

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While this posting is a little off topic in that it does not apply to the workplace, it does apply to discrimination against homosexuals and it is a legal decision of some real significance in the State of Florida.

The opinion of the trial court and the appellate court in Florida draws into question the legality of Florida statute Section 63.042, which provides, “No person eligible to adopt under this statute [the Florida Adoption Act] may adopt if that person is a homosexual.” § 63.042(3), Fla. Stat. (2006). Curiously however, under Florida law, homosexuals can serve as foster parents.

The Florida adoption statute calls for an individual, case-by-case evaluation to determine if the proposed adoption is in the best interest of the child. This includes things such as home studies and many other factors. Except for homosexual persons, there is no automatic, categorical exclusion of anyone from consideration for adoption.

The trial court determined that there was no rational basis for this statute and the appellate court upheld that determination. The Third District Court of Appeal stated “Under Florida law, homosexual persons are allowed to serve as foster parents or guardians but are barred from being considered for adoptive parents. All other persons are eligible to be considered case-by-case to be adoptive parents, but not homosexual persons—even where, as here, the adoptive parent is a fit parent and the adoption is in the best interest of the children.
The Department has argued that evidence produced by its experts and F.G.’s experts supports a distinction wherein homosexual persons may serve as foster parents or guardians, but not adoptive parents. Respectfully, the portions of the record cited by the Department do not support the Department’s position. We conclude that there is no rational basis for the statute.”

The case is called Florida Department of Children and Families v. In re: Matter of Adoption of X.X.G. and N.R.G., and is located at http://www.3dca.flcourts.org/Opinions/3D08-3044.pdf.

Presumably the State of Florida will appeal this decision to the Florida Supreme Court, so we will await to see the results.

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Steven Slater, a Jet Blue flight attendant told his employer to take his job n shove it in style recently.

As JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh was taxiing to a gate at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Slater tired to assist a woman who was struggling with her carry-on luggage. An argument that evidently began in Pittsburgh erupted again in New York, according to Slater’s lawyer. Slater believes the middle-aged woman “maliciously” hit him on his head with her luggage, Turman said.

Its alleged that Slater demanded an apology from the passenger, but the passenger refused. The two argued before the passenger told Slater to “f— off”, the official said. Slater then got on the plane’s PA system and directed that same obscenity at all the passengers and added that he especially meant it for the man who refused to apologize.

In a written statement to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, Slater said, “I lost patience after a female passenger had an argument with another passenger and then opened the bin door hitting me on the head without apologizing, I got on the microphone and said, ‘To those of you [who] have shown dignity and respect these last twenty years, thanks for a great ride.’ I accessed the porthole pulled the door handle inflating the slide, took my baggage and slid down the slide and left.” Slater, allegedly prior to sliding down the escape shute took himself several beers from the aircraft galley.

The attendant then ran from the tarmac into the terminal. He made his way to his car and drove to his residence in Belle Harbor, Queens. Authorities picked the flight attendant up at his home on Beach 128th Street Monday afternoon and brought him to the Port Authority Police station at JFK airport for questioning. The official said that Slater was calm when arrested and remained calm throughout his interrogation and the booking process. He was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. He has since been released on bail.

Police say that Slater could have killed or severely injured somebody on the ground with his escape. The emergency slide deploys out of the aircraft with a force of 3,000 psi. The typical car tire pressure is around 30 to 35 psi.

The cost to replace the chute, according to the police report, is more than $25,000. Additionally, JetBlue could lose tens of thousands of dollars more, while the jet out of service for repairs.

So is this guy a folk hero for doing what most employees only dream of doing? What do you think?

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Well after some time off and getting ready for a jury trial that was postponed by the judge as we were getting ready to select a jury, it is now back to the coal mine and blogging for you readers about developments in employment law.

As you may know, I have blogged in the past about pregnancy discrimination against employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII, which covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. Title VII also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. Women who are pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations. In addition, most states have comparable state discrimination statutes that apply to pregnancy discrimination.

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers. In addition, if an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments, or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy to do the same. Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby’s birth. An employer also may not have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.

Well apparently the Detroit Police Department did not care to follow this law.

Six female police officers in Detroit settled their pregnancy discrimination lawsuit for over $200,000. As an additional term of the settlement, no employee or applicant will be asked if she is pregnant or anticipates being pregnant. Additionally the department cannot assign an officer to desk duty because she is pregnant unless she requests it or force her to go on unpaid leave.

The police officers alleged they were forced to go on sick leave, even if they could perform other duties. Five of the female officers said they were stuck at home without pay after exhausting sick leave.

So if you believe you have been the subject of pregnancy discrimination, speak to an experienced employment law attorney to advise you of your rights.

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So this posting is a little off topic, but interesting nonetheless. It is a new lawsuit that alleges sexual harassment, but is not in a employee context.

A 14 year-old Chicago boy has accused Southwest Airlines of ignoring his complaints about a seatmate’s sexual harassment during a 2008 flight to Orlando. An older woman sitting next to the boy allegedly repeatedly offered the boy drugs and made inappropriate sexual advances toward him. The boy allegedly asked flight attendants to switch seats because of the cougar attack, but according to a lawsuit, they ignored him. The boy’s father is suing for $50,000 in damages.

Clearly since he was not an employee of Southwest, the employment discrimination laws would not apply so even through this is being called sexual harassment, the claims might be more in the nature of negligence or battery. In addition, I wonder if the flight took place in 2008, why they are only getting around to bringing a lawsuit two years later? Just remember all my readers out there, if you have a claim, don’t wait to bring it. Your claim appears to lack merit when you wait for years to bring it. In addition you face the problem of witnesses disappearing and memories getting vaguer.

So if you have claims that you believe are sexual harassment, but maybe not in the employer/employee context, don’t fret, there may be other legal claims you can bring for your claim.

On a final note, I wonder whether the 14 year olds friends were jealous?

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For those of you who have been following my blog, you are all aware of some of the types of whistleblower actions that I have blogged about. Not only do many states have their own whistleblower laws, but many federal statutes also have whistleblowing provisions such as with OSHA and the various health care statutes. I have also blogged about qui tam actions where you whistleblow upon an employer when it is ripping off the federal government or state government.

It is important to whistleblow. I have represented employees who reported redating meats at a grocery store meat department and were fired in response. I have represented employees who reported filling premium brand liquor bottles with call brand liquors. I even represented mortgage brokers who complained about shoddy underwriting practices at a major lender before the financial mortgage collapse (he was fired for his complaints). All of these types of actions are either a danger to the public or at a minimum a fraud upon the public and should not be tolerated. And remember, if you do complain about the illegal actions of your employer it is illegal for them to retaliate against you or fire you for your actions.

In fact, had employees whistleblowed about BP and the Deepwater Horizon, maybe this country would not be suffering from this environmental disaster. Currently, several whistleblowers have come forward on other matters of interest related to BP (including another Gulf well) and have said they have suffered retaliation for doing so. Related to Deepwater Horizon: “The rig survivors … said it was always understood that you could get fired if you raised safety concerns that might delay drilling. Some co-workers had been fired for speaking out, they said.”

In his testimony before Congress last week, Tony Hayward said that why no one spoke up would be the important question to be answered by BP’s ongoing investigations. Congressman Henry Waxman in the hearing said operating in deep water is like operating in space. The very nature of oil rig deepwater drilling — and space travel — with their inherent risks, make it imperative that action be taken to ensure that in future, safety indeed comes first. Congressman Waxman was analogizing the BP incident to the Challenger space shuttle explosion.

So if you have concerns about illegal activities engaged in by your employer, speak with an employment law attorney to consider your next course of action.

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As most of you know, there are many employers that don’t provide employees with PTO or paid sick days which makes it very difficult for some to take off in the case of an illness or emergency.

The survey results were released today from a survey conducted by the Public Welfare Foundation and the National Partnership for Women.

The results were compelling:

More than half of workers without paid sick days have gone to work with a contagious illness like the flu;

People without paid sick days are twice as likely to say they have used a hospital emergency room because they were unable to take off of work during their normal work hours;

Nearly twice as many workers without paid sick days have sent a sick child to school or daycare;

Three in four respondents agree that paid sick days are a basic worker’s right; and

86 percent of respondents back a plan that would allow workers to earn a minimum of seven paid sick days per year.

This confirms what we’ve all known to be true: all workers need paid sick days.

Especially in this tough economy, we should all be able to take care of our families — without risking our jobs or our own health.

Urge Congress to Support the Healthy Families Act — federal legislation that allows workers to earn paid sick days, including more than 40 million U.S. workers who don’t have them today.

Click on the following link to send a note to Congress encouraging them to pass the Healthy Families Act.

https://secure2.convio.net/npwf/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=168&JServSessionIdr004=8p4dwzxxv4.app207b

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In our difficult economic climate, with more and more people finding themselves unemployed, this blog will attempt to address legal issues facing employees in the workplace both during their employment and after. Hopefully it will be of assistance to you. Feel free to post any questions you may have or comments on any of my posts

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