(504)-3303


 

A Florida firm is currently on hot water for allegedly firing employees because of wearing orange. The Elizabeth R. Wellborn law firm has been sued for allegedly firing eight employees who wear wearing orange as a sign of protest against the newly imposed work restrictions. However, there are two sides of the story.

Why They Filed for Complaint
According to the complaint filed by the employers’ attorneys, not all those who were wearing orange that day joined the silent protest against the new work rules. There were some who wore orange to match the color of the bar they were going to after work for a happy hour. It was a gesture of mutual consent for the purpose of an after-work fun.

But what the management only knew of is the fact that workers were wearing orange to mimic the uniform of inmates at the Florida Department of Corrections who are stripped off their freedom. Fired employers say that they were protesting against the new set of work rules that prohibit them from taking coffee breaks or going to the cafeteria while on the clock. New rules also prohibit them from taking to their co-employees over cubicles even if it’s to discuss work-related issues.

In addition, the husband of the firm’s owner was noted to have told employees that if they were protesting work-conditions, they would better pack their things and leave the company premises.

The complaint filed was stated in such a way that emphasized on the violations against the National Labor Relations. According to the section seven of state law, employees have the right to self-organization for the purpose of collective bargaining. Therefore, the law makes it unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.

The Other Side of the Story
However, the Elizabeth R. Wellborn law firm negates any allegations of firing employees because of the color of their shirts. 

Wellborn released in a statement that any assertion that the firm take disciplinary actions against employees because of the color of their shirts is ludicrous. The firm says that the employees were discharged from the company because of harassing and intimidating a new office manager into quitting.

In fact, the new manager got so scared that she has left the state.
The Florida firm also says that they have accumulated enough data to support their side of the story. The firm says that the company hopes to keep a working environment that is free of any forms of discrimination against each other and against their superiors. In fact, the company believes that hiring qualified relatives of employers helps further in fostering the said ideal environment.

A law professor at the Florida International University, Kerri Stone, said that in Florida, an employee can be fired for any or no reason at all as long as employment was presumed at will. 

But the laws in Florida regarding employment vary greatly from more law-bounded states like Louisiana. In Louisiana, any company that fires employees for no reason at all can be penalized. Likewise, companies that do not provide the workers’ compensation benefits can get sued. So if you have issues about employment in Louisiana, call John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303. You may also visit their website at www.johnfoxassociates.com.

 

Governor Pat Quinn’s working group seeks to address the $85 billion in pension debt by lowering the pension benefits but increasing the contribution rate. In exchange, the state would guarantee that it will meet all its funding obligations.

According to the proposal submitted, the pension costs of teachers and university employees would shift from the state to the school districts and universities. With this, universities will be forced to find ways to increase the contribution rate of their immediate districts. However, the proposal is not in a formal legislation and would only act as a list of recommendations.

The proposal by the working group is in direct opposition to another proposal made last year by Congressmen who have indicated the need to hire more workers and to create a 401 (k)-style contribution system.

Although no confirmations have been made yet, the Labor sector continues to seek guarantees of the state making prompt payments into the system in order to meet all funding obligations. It has been known that skipping and/or underfunding pensions have been the main reason for the current bulk of pension debt. Therefore to resolve the issue of debt, legislators must consider its roots.

A 1995 law mandates the State to make pension payments based on a schedule outline in order to bring the funding up to 90 percent by 2045. However, lawmakers have adjusted the said law to allow the skipping of pension payments. 

But Representative Elaine Nekritz of D-Northbrook is not convinced that a legislation following the proposal made by Governor Pat Quinn’s working group will ever pass. Nekritz says that voters may not be very supportive of any law that would require the state to make the contribution. This is because if the state fails to make the pension payments, state tax money for the local agencies would be garnished. And that would lead to poor government services in a specific state.

Governor Quinn says that it is urgent that the issue on pension funding be addressed within the year and hence, formed his own working group. The decision of the Senate will be released in a week or so but for now, there has been talk that legislation will be drafted based on the work done by the said working group. If it will be exactly as the proposal has, there is no clear answer yet.

What happens if the pension debt is not resolved soon?

If the pension debt is not resolved soon, it would lead to more and more retirees not getting what is due them after years of working. If workplace pension schemes are in place, this means that employees are given shares that would potentially have more returns than a savings account. 

Ideally, the amount you get upon retirement must be based on how much is paid and how well the investments have performed. Upon retirement, you can take some of your pension as tax-free cash.

Your right to pension should never be taken for granted. It is as important as workers’ compensation while you are still employed.

For questions regarding the legal technicalities of workers’ compensation and pensions, call John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303.

 

It is important that prices of medical services be monitored because they could affect the frequency and quality of workers’ compensation provided. One way to achieve this task is to implement a fee schedule in your state. This fact is even set into stone from the findings gathered by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

According to the research, states that do not have fee schedules in place pay more for medical professional services offered for injured workers. The fees would also raise faster thereby forcing companies to take necessary actions including, but not limited to, the changes in their workers’ compensation rules. 

Below is a list of the most common practices used by some industries to lower the costs of workers’ compensation:

  1. Not reporting injuries 
  2. Disciplinary actions against workers filing compensation claims
  3. Discrimination against employees who have been injured

In the states of Virginia, Missouri, New Jersey, Indiana and Iowa, the prices of medical professional services are as much as 27 to 51 percent higher than in states with fee schedules like in Louisiana. In Wisconsin, things are even worse with more than twice the median of medical professional fees noted.

States without fee schedules also experience a rapid increase in prices of services necessary to realize the sections of the workers’ compensation in the state. Based on the studies between the years 2002 to 2011, an increase of prices for as much as 50% has been noted. The psychology could be because without fee schedules, professional medical practitioners will not be properly monitored. They can just provide their own charges and the medical insurance companies will just pay them later on. 

Without strict monitoring, the quality of services could also be affected as well. This is especially the case when medical practitioners charge more than they should and insurance companies become more delayed in their payments. 

The most common medical services that charge too much and increase too often are under the following categories: evaluation and management, physical medicine, minor radiology, neurological and neuromuscular testing, emergency care, surgery and pain management injections. 

In Louisiana, aside from being one of the states that implement a fees schedule, it also has some of the most applauded practices to promote safety. These would include:

  1. Documenting the complete details of how workers got injured, as well as the specific violations that led to the injury.
  2. Examining the circumstances leading to a late filing of injury before disciplining an injured worker
  3. Reviewing any incentive programs for the unintended effect of stifling the reporting of injuries.

If the company implements better policies on workers’ compensation, coupled with the most employee- and employer-friendly guidelines by the state, no injured worker will go to court for a dispute. For states with existing fee schedules but still with a relatively high percentage of disputes, formal inquiries need to be set in place. 

Are you in Louisiana and seeking help on a claim dispute? Call John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303 or log on to www.johnfoxassociates.com

 

Contrary to what’s expected, workers’ compensation fraud can go both ways. An employer who tries to prevent a deserving worker of due compensation is committing fraud. At the same time any employee who withholds, alter, or manipulate information to receive compensation that is not rightly theirs, is guilty of the fraud as well. In the state of Louisiana, workers’ compensation fraud can be a burden to both workers and employers. Both employers and employees need to always be informed of federal policies and state laws on labor rights. Once an employer or employee is found to be guilty of fraud, a report must be filed immediately. 

Employers should also be on the lookout for a possible fraud. If a case of an injured worker is filed, it must not go beyond two days after the injury occurred. It is also suspicious when fraud is reported right after the end of a project, or after the employee is justly terminated from their post, or before a workers’ strike begins or ends. 

Witnesses should be available for comment and are credible. They must bring an eyewitness account of the injury. A consistent account of the injury should also be presented. Details of the story must be consistent every time it is retold to investigators and match closely the first repot. The complainant’s history should also be looked into, whether they have changed addresses, employment, and physicians in an unusual frequency. Suspicious individuals such as these must be thoroughly investigated to determine whether they deserve workers’ compensation and not concocting fraudulent claims. 

When you sustained an injury on the job, you must immediately report the incident and establish the need for workers’ compensation. This way you will be able to inform the employer in a timely manner, gain integrity over the claim, access a lawyer, and maintain a good relationship with your employer in spite of the accident. 

When an employee files for compensation because of an injury, they are not allowed to return to their jobs until they fully recover. The injured worker also is not allowed to get another job, lest they forfeit their labor compensation benefits. However, it is possible for the employer to assign or tip the injured employee to a job that does not require strenuous labor and would not harm or impede the worker’s recovery from injury. The worker is then required to file for income earned while receiving compensation benefits. Failure to do so subjects these employees to a civil or criminal case. 

It is also not possible for a worker receiving compensation benefits to also receive unemployment insurance allowance. An exemption is made when the worker is entitled to permanent or partial disability benefits. 

When an employee rightfully deserves compensation and is denied of it, they should not be afraid to file a complaint against the employer committing fraud. They should make sure the injury was reported in a timely manner, and that witnesses are available for corroboration. Legal guidance should be sought lest the case becomes too complicated for the employee to handle. Certain insurance companies are willing to reward those who report workers’ compensation fraud and prevent damage. 

For assistance on workers’ compensation fraud and related matters, visit www.johnfoxassociates.com. Or you call 1-866-994-1912 (Toll free) and 1-504-891-3303 (Local). You can also mail your questions to info@johnfoxassociates.com.

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined that the labor force grew by as much as 120,000 in March of this year. The number reflects the fact that the Obama administration’s plans for job security has finally started to progress with a continuously growing trend for more than a year. 

The current unemployment rate is set at 8.2. Although the number is not as encouraging as politicians would have hoped for, it still provides a glimpse as to where the economy is heading. Most of the increase in the number of employed people is focused on the industries of manufacturing, food services, business services and health care. This, then, implies a stricter monitoring of work-related injuries in the above-mentioned fields.

However, the statistics was gathered during Black Friday, when the European and US markets are closed. So the full impact of the seen increase in employment will only be visible as soon as business resumes on Monday.

Still an Issue on Wages
The term “unemployed” is a very broad term. At best, it means that you are out for work but you can be out of work for a year and still not considered unemployed. Also, another huge issue that is closely associated with employment is the wages. According to economic studies, tens of millions of Americans earn less than the official poverty rate thereby making them unable to support a family well.

In a separate survey, it was deduced that those who have jobs can’t work enough hours in order to earn what they need to. 

The Crisis is Not Over
Despite the fact that these figures are promising, the crisis is still far from over. It is only a proof that the American economic system is working adequately especially the middle-class. 

The problem is, even if the overall job picture is better, the number of unemployed is still the same. This means that the American population has increased as well and that there hasn’t been much change in the labor force participation rate too. Hence, the creation of new jobs is still not enough to keep pace with the current demographics of unemployment growth versus actual employment gains.

Focus on Employment Benefits 
Some economists and politicians think that jobs today are undermined and unappreciated with not enough benefits. As such, there is a call for more employment benefits such as workers’ compensation.

Since the influx of employment is in the riskier industries like manufacturing, food services, business services and health care, employers should focus on implementing strategies that would make the workplace healthier and safer. If accidents should incur, they should be properly documented and reported to the US Department of Labor for recording. 

In addition, proper medical services and benefits for being temporarily out of work due to work-related injuries must be set into place. If temps were to be hired to fill the temporarily vacant position, proper understanding must be in place in order to avoid issues later on.

So the statistics show that there is not much to hope for but it’s still something better compared to the past years. If the steady increase continuous, America would see a better economy soon. 

For more news on economy and workers’ compensation, visit www.johnfoxassociates.com. Johnfox Associates is a law firm specializing in worker’s compensation.

 

Time and time again, issues on labor has shaped and reshaped the industry. The most recent top company that has been faced by labor complaints is Apple as news of its workers in China getting mistreated circulated in the news and even on the Internet. 

Below is a brief of the accumulated reports:
Apple is in the middle of another controversy following the death of Steve Jobs. It is now in hot water for issues concerning its manufacturing branch in China wherein an unprecedented inspection led to the discovery of workplace abuses. According to reports, three workers tried to steal several Apple gadgets and were punished accordingly.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the Chinese workers were actually forced to do overtime that resulted in work weeks breaking the limit of 76 hours as set by the Chinese Law. There are even cases wherein employees were forced to work seven days without a 24-hour break.

Another issue that has been discovered in Apple’s Chinese factory is that employees were devoid of the basic work benefits like health and safety committees. They are also not allowed to join or form unions and they are not involved in any or all of the processes of committees. 

There’s also the problem on health and safety risks as well as crucial communication gaps. On top of all these, reports on under-compensation do not seem to die down. 

In order to determine the truthfulness of these reports, the Fair Labor Association initiated an equivalent of a full body scan through 3,000 staff hours focusing investigation three of Apple’s factories and surveying more than 35,000 workers.

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has repeatedly stressed out that the company takes labor conditions seriously and that they are addressing the criticism that it production partners may be mistreating their workers.

Cook even said that if a supplier hires underage labor and even mistreats their workers, it’s an offense that could possibly lead to the cancellation of their business agreements. 

Apple’s stock price slid slightly following the release of the reports from FLA. 

So when should workers hire a lawyer?

Before issues like these gets blown out of proportion, employees should be educated on when to hire the services of a lawyer. 

The decision to hire a lawyer is ultimately your decision and whether or not your preferred lawyer accepts the case depends on the complexity of the case. For instance, a complicated workers’ compensation claim would require a lawyer’s help while a simple insurance dispute may not. To determine whether your case needs a lawyer or not, determine if you can reach a settlement when it’s just you and your company talking. 

However, if you have a case that has been filed in a federal, state or other small claims court, you would definitely need a lawyer to represent you. Again, it’s up to you. The important thing is you remain proactive against workplace abuse and discrimination. Bear in mind that for work-related injuries, you should get compensation.

If you need a lawyer to represent you in your complex workers’ compensation dispute, contact John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303 or visit their website at www.johnfoxassociates.com.

January 01 , 2012

 

Workers’ compensation is an insurance program designed to give certainty for any employee who incurs illness or gets injured while on the job. The law states that in exchange for giving certain benefits, a direct lawsuit against employers is not permitted. In most cases, workers are caught in a situation where they are pitted against their employers’ interest. Consequently, insurance companies (obviously commissioned by the employers) will carry out the goals of the employers to minimize the claims, if not to deny the benefits, thus compromising the needs of the employees. 

Injured employees should also be aware that while the law provides statutory recovery against their employers in the event of work-related injuries, they also the right to file personal injury lawsuits against other parties that may have been responsible for the injury, in one way or another. This process is referred to as third party cause of action and the people responsible will be called third party defendants. To whom should the case be directed? They may be the manufacturer or the supplier of the product or equipment that may have caused the accident. 

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. It allows those injured employees to stake claims for lost wages as a result of the injury, as well as medical assistance. While employees’ medical bills and rehabilitation expenses will be taken cared of, this is not a medical insurance. This merely provides injured employees that opportunity to recover from the injury without worrying where to get sustenance for the family while recovering from injury or illness. Employees are also given the chance to choose their doctor. 

How Injured Workers are Paid?
Once the claim has been filed, there is a pre-determined amount that will be paid out that is reflective of the worker’s pay plus the possible loss of income while the worker is out of commission. The employee will not have to worry about their hospital bills, including the expenses to be incurred while in the recovery process, until such time that the employee can go back to work. 

To be entitled for the benefits, employees should report the injury or illness as it happens. Failure to immediately file a report to the employer might jeopardize an employee’s chances of being granted the needed benefits. 

In the event that you get involved in an accident in the workplace, you should inform your immediate superior right away and then contact the HR or your employee relations officer. It is also imperative that you have supporting papers or witnesses to back up your claims – documents or data to include are an accurate description of the incident, witness accounts, and other pertinent information related to the incident. 

While employees are not allowed to file lawsuits against their employers, you will still need to get a lawyer to properly represent you to ensure that the case will be dealt with utmost care and fairness. 

This serves as an employee’s lifeline. It upholds the rights of employees to receive medical treatment and proper compensation from work-related injuries and illnesses. John Fox & Associates is a law firm specializing on workers’ compensation. For those who need assistance, you may call them at 1-866-994-1912 or 1-504-891-3303.  You may also get information by sending an email to info@johnfoxassociates.com.

 

Sadly, there are employers out there who sometimes take for granted the rights of its workers, especially during inopportune events such as job-related injury involving a worker. Every hired work should know the right to workers’ compensation especially when accidents in the work place happen. Depending on the severity and scale of injury, workers are entitled to have disability compensation, rehabilitation, medical assistance for illnesses and injury incurred on the job, and on the event of death, the company must pay an amount to the surviving family. 

Every company is bound by state law to pay employees workers’ compensation benefits, provided they have insurance or an insurance carrier specifically handling compensation for workers.  But once an injured or sick worker fails to receive a compensation check, he or she should immediately reach the employer’s insurance provider. When the case is not resolved on this level, the worker should go to the nearby Worker’s Compensation District Office, where he or she can formally file a complaint regarding missed compensation for a work-related illness or injury. 

In Louisiana, when one is denied workers’ compensation in a company, he or she has the option to file a Disputed Claim for Compensation, covered by ten offices in the State and is an administrative law. The worker filing for claim for compensation will need legal assistance in a case that could run from six to nine months. Workers filing for complaint are not obliged to seek the guidance of a working attorney in order to file for a complaint and undergo compensation proceedings. When the complainant finds the process more difficult to handle, he or she has the option to contact an attorney to help handle the case.

When a disputed complaint is settled on court, a lump sum settlement is paid to the worker who filed for the claim. This is the amount that the employer is obliged to pay the claimant, which is equivalent to the present value of the claim. There are no existing formulas for finding out the settlement value. The worker will receive an amount based on the compensation that should have been provided during the event of work-related illness or injury.   

Moreover, no employer has the right to terminate a worker filing a compensation claim as stated in Louisiana Law. However, they are not obliged to keep the job vacant until you return to your post. It is still the insurance company and employer’s responsibility to help you find jobs suited to your current condition, approved by the physician, and accessible within your home address. 

If you are expecting a compensation check, you should be receiving the amount after fourteen days that your employer has known about your illness or injury incurred at work. And if the employer fails to pay after 42 days, they are obliged to pay the full amount of compensation plus a 7-day waiting period, which is the allotted window period for making workers’ compensation payment.  

If you work in New Orleans and have incurred injury at work or suffering work-related illness, contact the legal team of John Fox & Associates at these numbers: 

Toll free: 1-866-994-1912
Local: 1-504-891-3303

You can also write inquiries to info@johnfoxassociates.com or visit www.johnfoxassociates.com

 

Every worker must know the laws on minimum wage and rates as well as the appropriate number of working hours, vacations, leaves, and breaks that need to be taken. Having this knowledge in a state like Louisiana where the minimum wage rate is not concretely established, workers will have a better knowledge of their rights and take advantage of workers’ compensation for overtime work and leave exchanges. 

Since the State of Louisiana does not allow a minimum wage rate among its private sector employers, the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 applies, save for a few exemptions. Employers are still obliged by federal government to implement its minimum wage laws.  

Workers who are under 18 years of age and are working 5 successive hours are entitled to meal breaks in the State of Louisiana. This time for meals need not be converted or paid. Workers who are above 18 years old do not fall under any state laws concerning meal periods. It is also not required under federal law for employers to provide such meal breaks. Employers who choose to give meal periods must offer pay if the break is below 20 minutes. Breaks beyond this time need not be paid, provided that employees have the freedom to use their time as they wish during meal breaks. 

As for overtime, Louisiana does not have specific laws in place. Federal laws governing overtime apply, along with workers’ compensation guidelines that come with it. 

Employers are not obliged to offer its employees with either unpaid or paid vacations. They must however comply with established rules if they provide vacation benefits to employees. This entails paying of earned vacation on the resignation or termination of the employee. Accrued vacation must be paid as part of workers’ compensation to the employee upon separation. However, there are debates concerning employees who fail to provide a 2 weeks notice. In this case, legal proceedings are needed. 

The State of Louisiana does not oblige employers to provide severance packages to its employees. Established policy is applied if the employer chooses to give such benefits. State law also does not require employees to give paid or unpaid sick leaves to employees. But Federal laws may require certain employers in Louisiana to provide unpaid sick leaves to its employees. 

Employers however have the right to require employees to use their vacation leaves. Louisiana employers also have the right to limit the number of vacation leaves an employee accumulates over time. 

When an employee is asked to comply with jury duty responsibilities during a work day, the employer is not oblige under Louisiana law to pay for the service. 

Employers are allowed to ask employees to work on holidays, as much as they are allowed give paid and unpaid holiday breaks. When time clocked during holiday work qualifies as overtime, federal laws concerning workers’ compensation and overtime applies.  

Employees in New Orleans or in the Louisiana seeking legal support concerning workers’ compensation should visit www.johnfoxassociates.com. Or call 1-866-994-1912 (Toll free) and 1-504-891-3303 (Local). You may also send inquiries to info@johnfoxassociates.com.

 

It is a sad fact that employment termination has steadily risen since the global recession shook the economy and, in turn, the workforce. No matter how secure you feel at your job, there is still that chance of facing termination in a place like Louisiana, during these unstable times. Hopefully less people should be forced out of jobs, but in preparation for the unfortunate event, every employee must know his or her rights when laid off from the job. Know the possible conditions that could rightfully cost you the job as well workers’ compensation policies that will affect the days following termination. 

The State of Louisiana has been referred to as one of the notorious “at-will” states. This implies that employers in the state can terminate and hire at will. Legitimate companies have severance benefits prepared for the unlucky employee, and a fired worker can also turn to the State of Louisiana for workers compensation.

When hired, it is important for employees to read the fine print and learn early on the company policy with regards to separation benefits. Contractual workers are also entitled to benefits. And employees who do not sign contracts can still rely on the fact that companies are under federal laws on severance pay. 

 The employer should not enforce unlimited reign on its employees, and should never discriminate employees based on religion, sex, race, age, gender, nationality or disability. Any termination based on these grounds is unlawful. 

Moreover, every employee terminated in the State of Louisiana is entitled to unemployment benefits, while waiting for workers’ compensation. When the reason for the termination is beyond the powers or control of the employee in question, he or she must receive unemployment support. The terms for these benefits are based on existing state policies and federal laws. 

When an employee in Louisiana is terminated without reasonable cause, the employee has the right to ask for workers’ compensation. Meanwhile, they can apply for unemployment benefits. By meeting the requirement of the Louisiana Employment Security Law, a laid off employee may get temporary financial aid. The unemployment benefits should be based on the legality of the claim and the standards of previous employment. 

There are a few requirements terminated employees need to fulfill before receiving unemployment paycheck, while walking processing claim for workers’ compensation. A terminated employee must submit proof that their termination was not their own fault. It should also be proven that the employee has received enough salary within the time he or she was terminated. It is also important that the employee is seeking employment if her or she is able to. 

In case of wrongful termination, an employee must file a formal complaint addressed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee before going further with a lawsuit. It is the committee’s prerogative to investigate the case before going to court. An employee thinking of filing a complain must reach a counselor from the committee within 45 days after termination. The committee can also help in determining whether a case can be settled out of court. 

For more information on workers’ compensation after termination, visit www.johnfoxassociates.com. Or you may call 1-866-994-1912 (Toll free) and 1-504-891-3303 (Local). You can also mail your questions to info@johnfoxassociates.com.