What Happens When A Coworker Assaults You On The Job?

Most employment contracts specifically state that conversations about controversial subjects are off limits as soon as you walk through the front door. That means no talking about religion or politics. But guess what? Disputes will occur regardless of whether or not controversial subjects are ignored. People argue. And unfortunately, people fight. What happens if a coworker assaults you on the job?

First and foremost, most states define assault as more of a threat. Battery occurs when there is unwanted physical contact. That’s why the crimes are often combined into a single charge: assault and battery. Together, they usually mean violence was involved in a confrontation. What that also means, though, is that you can take legal action even if you only felt threatened. 

Not sure which next steps to take? An anonymous lawyer for ronaldfreemanlaw.com said, “Even if your employer wants to keep the police and courts out of it, it’s in your own best interests to find legal counsel. Almost always, it makes sense to call the police to make a report of what happened. Usually there are witnesses at work. Find out what they saw. And don’t worry. Your boss can’t retaliate or fire you for doing things the right way. If he does, it just means you get to sue.”

Were you physically injured during the confrontation? You should find a safe location — and speak with a supervisor about calling the police to report the violence. Ask a friend to photograph the scene of the crime and speak with others who may have seen what happened. You should also seek medical attention right away. A police report is normally required before you can seek compensation in these circumstances. And so are medical bills. Keep copies of any documents you receive.

When you return home, recollect the event as best you can, and then send an email or letter to your boss. Keep copies. This ensures that everything is on the record, and no one can deny an assault took place. You’ll also want to take pictures of any injuries. Keep a written journal of how you feel daily. Your pain and stress will make a difference during a potential injury claim.

Should the assault have been prevented? Submit a grievance to let your employers know why you believe this should never have happened. At the same time, make sure your employer has filed a RIDDOR report if you take more than seven days off from work due to the injury.

What else can you do? You can request additional staff or training. You can request a risk assessment. More likely, you will want to speak with a personal injury or criminal defense attorney (regardless of which side of the case you’re on). These individuals are trained to give legal advice to any relevant parties even if those parties don’t plan to retain their services. And you’ll want that advice before you decide on the next steps.

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What Impact Will SCOTUS Have On Employment Law In 2022?

Conservatives dominate liberals in the Supreme Court 2 to 1 — and even though the highest court in the land is supposed to be non-partisan, most of us know what kind of impact this could have on any controversial law on the docket. What can we expect? Here are a few ways that the new SCOTUS might impact employment law over the next twelve months. 

One of the biggest impacts involves the continued debate around vaccine mandates. Many jurisdictions have tried to implement mask or vaccine mandates in schools. The more radical conservative groups have gone so far as to describe these mandates akin to “rape.” The Supreme Court has so far allowed several states to move forward with such mandates. Will federal mandates hold? We’ll know soon.

Another case will determine how flight attendants are paid. Should airlines comply with wage-based legal codes in states where the flight attendants live? The laws are murky because attendants don’t actually work in their home states — they work all over the country.

Whether or not employers can force arbitration has long been a question before the courts. But what about whether or not employees can use a loophole to avoid arbitration clauses by filing lawsuits on behalf of the state and not themselves? The Private Attorneys General Act currently allows plaintiffs who do just that to hold onto a quarter of the funds for any verdict won. The Supreme Court will soon decide.

Yet another case will set in stone exactly how employee retirement plans can or cannot avoid litigation. The question before them is whether or not these plans can offer cheap investment options to avoid excessive-fee lawsuits, which have been filed often over the last few years.

We also expect SCOTUS to inevitably hear more cases about new legislation related to COVID-19 as these laws are drafted throughout the year — primarily because we expect the pandemic to continue into the foreseeable future, and likely become endemic to our population.

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Legal Roadblock For Automation In New York City

When we contemplate how far automation has come in the last ten years, we usually visualize big cities. New York, Los Angeles, even Seattle. These are the places where technology has been meaningfully developed or implemented in a way the public can see and experience. But local and state governments have long considered stricter regulations to determine what businesses can and cannot do. NYC recently experienced a legal setback in automation. Here’s why.

Specifically, the tools many employers use to streamline the hiring process are automated. They are based on algorithms that help them decide who deserves to be there and who does not. But research suggests those algorithms might be biased against people of color. This has resulted in state and local governments to reconsider whether they should be legal.

A new NYC law due to go into effect on January 1, 2023 will prohibit employers from using these systems during the hiring process.

The law states that an employer cannot use an “automated employment decision tool” to sift through prospective employees. There are exceptions. If the tool has been put through a bias audit within the last 12 months, it may still be used. More importantly, the results of that audit have to be published to the employer’s website and made available to the public before the systems can be used again. 

Automated employment decision tools are defined in the legislations as “any computational process, derived from machine learning, statistical modeling, data analytics, or artificial intelligence, that issues simplified output, including a score, classification, or recommendation, that is used to substantially assist or replace discretionary decision-making for making employment decisions that impact natural persons.” 

Excluded tools include those that do “not automate, support, substantially assist or replace discretionary decision-making processes and that does not materially impact natural persons, including, but not limited to, a junk email filter, firewall, antivirus software, calculator, spreadsheet, database, data set, or other compilation of data.”

Penalties for each violation of the new law will include a $500 fine. Additional violations will result in much steeper fines.

Will your business or employees be affected by new automation legislation or employment laws in New York? Check here for more information: www.woodslaw.com

Laws like these are cropping up all over the country while businesses implement ever more powerful automation processes. Only a short distance away in New Jersey, company NICE announced new AI software that will use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that businesses can use to make tasks easier. 

President Barry Cooper of the NICE Workforce and Customer Experience Group tweeted, “The digital age is powering productivity, improving service experiences, and accelerating ROI. By digitizing processes and prioritizing automations that drive maximum business value, our latest RPA capabilities are accelerating the path to a digital-first strategy.”

New applications include click-to-document, ROI-based automation process recommendation, and a built-in resource center. Like all automation, these applications seek to reduce the number of — or eliminate — hourly expenditure by employees to save businesses money.

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What You Need To Know About Employment Law In 2022

Many pieces of legislation will take effect by January 1, 2022. Employers should speak with their legal teams to implement the requisite changes as soon as possible. Some of the following are major changes, while many represent only minor inconveniences. Consumer spending is at an all-time high this holiday season — and that means more opportunity to take a shot in court at big enterprises that make mistakes. 

One of the biggest changes is what subjects are prohibited as part of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). The “Silenced No More Act” prohibits NDAs from preventing employees or former employees from whistle-blowing about workplace harassment or retaliation. It was partially based on the resulting fallout from the #MeToo movement, which has landed many high-profile men in trouble for sexual harassment or assault in the workplace. The new law will go into place on January 1, 2022. 

California SB 762 amends existing laws to require arbiters to supply an invoice for fees and due dates once filing is done. Invoices are due on receipt by law. That means an employer that makes an employee sign an arbitration agreement must pay up the second the invoice lands. 

The California Family Rights Act has been expanded to allow employees to take a leave of absence in order to care for someone. The law also allows one of these individuals to be a parent-in-law. 

Other laws have been put into place to determine how employers must respond to COVID-19. They require employees to notify any employees who may have been exposed to coronavirus at work within 24 hours. This notice must be provided to an employee in writing (via email or text if applicable). Should the number of cases meet the criteria for a “COVID-19 outbreak” designation, then the employee must provide notice to the public health agency within 48 hours. 

Laws also add provisions for food delivery, warehouse distribution, intentional wage theft, etc. You can find additional details here.

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Are Franchises In Massachusetts Bound By Classification Law

The Massachusetts Supreme Court is poised to hear arguments about an important question in employment law that could result in consequences to franchise owners in the state — and eventually all over the country. Right now, franchise owners don’t enjoy legal protections afforded to everyone else. These range from minimum wage to workers compensation. Are 7-Eleven employees store managers? That’s the question.

Employees enjoy many protections according to employment law. They cannot be paid below the minimum wage. They must be paid overtime when the hours in a standardized workweek have been exceeded. Any work-related expenses must be reimbursed by the employer. For example, an employer might be required to pay for an employee’s gas expenses if asked to travel to another store farther away. 

The question may be a legal one, but franchise owners expect that the consequences could destroy the business model completely.

Justice Scott Kafker said, “I’m very sympathetic to the little guy who is working in all these stores. But I have very little sympathy for your argument that would convert entrepreneurs into employees.”

There’s an obvious reason for this reply, even though it seems harsh: entrepreneurs are taking a risk when establishing a new business. That risk represents an investment. And investments often don’t work out for the best. That’s the nature of the game.

But the ruling might also allow other businesses to use the franchise model in an effort to evade protections granted to employees under employment law. 

The plaintiffs say they are 7-Eleven employees and would like the law to recognize that status. But 7-Eleven spokespeople argued that those classification laws weren’t applicable because there are other laws that already regulate how they must operate — under the United States Federal Trade Commission. The question remains unanswered for now. Appeals courts will soon have their say.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court eventually provided a “joint employment” test in response to a separate lawsuit against the companies Credico and DFW. Four points must be met to achieve a standard of employment. Who had the power to hire or fire an employee? Who supervised the employee on a regular basis and provided the employee’s work schedule? Who determined the employee’s pay? Who maintained records for the employment of the worker?

According to the four points, Credico was found not to be a joint employer after the suit was filed. Businesses are mostly in favor of the new standards because the new law rejects broader definitions of what joint employment is (which has opened these businesses to frivolous lawsuits). It also makes state and federal law one and the same. Finally, it leaves companies that aren’t responsible for violations free and clear of the consequences for those violations.

An anonymous lawyer for sederlaw said, “We find our clients are happy about the new ruling. Laws aren’t exactly known for simplifying business relationships. Quite the opposite, actually. So this has been a breath of fresh air for the business community. And of course it also makes our job easier too.”

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Coronavirus Cases Poised To Skyrocket Even More

And when we say cases are trending upward, we mean that in every sense — litigation and actually coronavirus infections are both on the rise.  At this point, failing to implement preventative measures in the workplace is unconscionable and inexcusable. Is your employer failing to implement the required changes to make you feel safe and comfortable in the workplace? You might have a good case.

Most people, however, will not.

But that’s okay. The world is changing, and we must change with it. Not all of us will get what we want. Many will be bankrupted by a broken system that left them without health insurance right when they needed it the most. Unemployment continues to skyrocket. Governments continue to make the wrong call, even as health experts tell us exactly what we need to do.

Ultimately, those governments are the ones that will be held accountable — although it might take a long time to gather the support to make them pay up. It’s especially hard to litigate a government, because that government almost always imposes limits and caps for lawsuits in different categories.

For now, we recommend keeping track of the missteps made by superiors if you’re still at work. We don’t make this recommendation so you can take aggressive action. We make it so you can take defensive action if you are taken advantage of by others. Continue to wear a mask and stand six feet apart during interactions.

We find it inexcusable that workers have still not been given hazard pay when they are making less than people on unemployment while taking all of the risk. We will continue to fight to ensure that businesses do not take advantage of their workers.

Do you have a personal injury case because of coronavirus restrictions or failure to act? We would like to hear about it. Contact us today to speak with a personal injury attorney.

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New Personal Injury Cases Expected In Wake Of Coronavirus Outbreak

Our last article asked whether or not we could sue after catching coronavirus on the job — and perhaps we jumped the gun when we said that the answer was almost certainly “no.” We still contend that it will be difficult for a plaintiff to prove that the coronavirus was contracted due to someone else’s negligence, but new possibilities have arisen since we visited the subject last. We do expect many new cases in the coming months and years.

The reason is simple. Many people have found themselves at the doors of financial ruin, and employers across the country have done precious little to help avoid calamity. But it’s not just employers. Individuals are still playing the role of the village idiot when confronted with a harsh reality they don’t understand.

For example, one shopper licked a number of Wal-Mart products while asking “Who’s afraid of coronavirus?” He was subsequently arrested and charged with making a terrorist threat. We could never have anticipated that local and state authorities would take this approach with people who weren’t taking this outbreak seriously. Because they are taking it seriously, lawsuits built against those who have already been charged or convicted of threats like these will be much easier to win.

Thousands of employees across the country have been laid off because small business owners cannot afford to keep them on. And non-essential businesses have been forced to close their doors by state and local governments, which means many people are unable to work regardless. Those businesses that have stayed open are under a barrage of attack from employees.

Employees are demanding paid sick leave, hazard pay, and safe working environments amidst one of the most dangerous pandemics of our modern era — and who can tell them they don’t deserve all those rewards for working through this crisis? 

Business owners will be sued for forcing employees to work while sick — or, at the very least, providing them with little alternative to work because they simply don’t make enough. If you’re not fired or laid off, you can’t collect unemployment. Quitting won’t get you a check. That means if you’re sick, tough luck. Courts will not like that logic in the coming months.

That’s because this situation is expected to go from bad to worse. Should the numbers continue to escalate at the current exponential rate, we can anticipate thousands of American fatalities every day by the beginning of May. This is a scary nightmare scenario for hospitals across the country that are ill-equipped to deal with the crisis at hand, and it’s closer and closer to a reality.

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Can You Sue If You Catch Coronavirus While On The Job?

Coronavirus is spreading. Although the illness is not especially virulent — it seems to hit older folks hardest — it has spread to infect at least 100,000 people. Those cases most likely define the subject with severe symptoms. There are probably hundreds of thousands of people already infected, but who will never seek medical help because their symptoms don’t warrant a trip to the doctor’s office.

Still, at this point it seems like you’re most likely to come down with the virus at some point. That’s especially true if the virus becomes endemic or mutates to become more dangerous, which are the biggest fears that scientists have right now.

Because so many people are expected to become infected with the virus — and soon — we’ve been swamped with questions about how to pay bills. This is especially important because so many people who have been placed into quarantine have later discovered the massive bill waiting for them when they were finally released. Hardly seems fair, does it?

But unfortunately, it’s an illness like any other — even though it’s new. You can hardly sue because someone gave you the flu, right? And you can hardly place the blame on anyone if you don’t know who was to blame for your infecting, a feat which is nearly impossible now that case numbers have blown up all over the country.

However, there might be some circumstances in which you can sue for medical expenses. For example, you might have some legal backing if you were on one of the cruise ships stranded because of the virus. Were you a passenger in quarantine? Did the period of isolation cause you physical or mental harm? Did you lose money because you could not return home? 

Furthermore, were the cruise lines themselves partially responsible? Did they take all applicable measures to prevent illness onboard? Usually, you see cruise preparedness everytime you enter a dining room. “Wipey, wipey!” yells the guy who asks you to use hand sanitizer before you enter.

While no one will likely find support trying to sue for personal injury because they caught coronavirus at their employment center, you might have a case if your loved one was infected and/or died from the illness at a nursing home or hospital. The big question is whether or not you can prove the negligence of these organizations. Did your loved ones receive the appropriate standard of care?

If you can prove otherwise, you might have a case. Try contacting a personal injury lawyer with a firm near you to share your story and find out fast!

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How Fast Is Employment Law Changing Because Of Public Demand For Fairness?

By now, we’ve covered the various upheavals in the tech industry. Workers want the ability to disregard non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that serve corrupt bosses. If someone is subject to sexual harassment in the workplace, should they really be barred from saying anything or speaking against the company because of an NDA? Is that fair? Is it just? The world seems to be saying no, it’s not fair, and it’s not just, and we’re going to do something about it right now.

The change may have been a long time coming, but more change is in the future. How fast can we legislate what we need, though?

That’s the question that attorneys David Poole and Brian Koegle of Poole Shaffery & Koegle, LLP try to answer in their presentation: “Be Afraid. Be VERY Afraid!” Their 2020 Employment Law Update will be made possible by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, where the event will be held on February 4, 2020. 

Koegle said, “Just because you made a change to your employee handbook last year or the year before does not mean you’re safe. As the laws change each year, your handbook needs to be updated, and if it isn’t, then your business could be exposed to significant liability. Both drastic and minimal changes to the law are enacted every year, and if you’re not aware of them, it could end up costing you and your business tens of thousands of dollars.”

And those short-sighted mistakes could cost clients, too. No one wants a lawyer who doesn’t actually know the laws of the day.

Poole said, “The purpose of the upcoming presentation is to help businesses understand and prepare for a new year of changes, so they can take proactive steps to protect themselves and their businesses. Without a knowledge and appreciation of these laws, business professionals unknowingly could make significant and costly mistakes.”

According to a press release for the event, the team will cover new laws regarding independent contractor classification, best practices for employers who have hourly employees, arbitration agreements, overtime for non-exempt employees, and new training requirements regarding sexual harassment.

Koegle described California’s place in all this. “California has some of the nation’s strictest business regulations,” he said. “And every year the laws change. Your business cannot afford to ignore these changes.”

There were a whopping 72,675 workplace discrimination charges obtained by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during 2019. The vast majority of these charges alleged retaliation in the workplace, followed by disability, race, sex, age, and national origin.

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“The National Law Review” Makes Employment Law Forecasts For 2020

The employment law industry is poised to make some of the most sweeping changes in decades. Most of these will have resulted from the wave of #MeToo lawsuits against major tech companies, some of which were supposed to be barred by company-mandated nondisclosure agreements. Many judges have since ruled that those NDAs don’t bind employees who wish to speak out against (or make allegations of) sexual harassment within their companies.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law in August of 2019 to expand anti-discrimination rights and protections for workers throughout the state. Beginning on January 1, 2020, nondisclosure agreements and similar contracts will no longer be legally considered binding agreements. Employees will be free to make complaints in the public spotlight, if they so wish.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law in October of 2019 to expand the rights of his own state’s workers. Previously, workers who fell victim to harassment only had a single year to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations has been increased to three years in order to give people more time to come forward with evidence.

Another piece of California legislation, SB 778, gives employers an extra year to provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training. Courses take two hours to complete for supervisory tasks. All other employees require only one hour to complete their training. The training must be renewed at least once every two years.

Meanwhile, Connecticut employers have until October 1, 2020 to provide their own employees with sexual harassment training.

The newly legislated Oregon Workplace Protection Act that prohibits NDAs made on the basis of “preventing the employee from disclosing or discussing [illegal] conduct” according to state or federal laws.

A number of states are also barring employers from implementing arbitration agreements. These contractual obligations prohibit employees from suing an employer, forcing them to instead challenge employers using binding arbitration.

Nevada’s SB 312 mandates at least 40 hours of paid leave for state employees. Several other states and Washington D.C. have implemented similar laws.

Many states are also beginning to implement restrictions of artificial intelligence applications during the interview process. For example, Illinois recently enacted a law that forces employers to disclose to job applicants whether or not videotaped interviews will be analyzed using artificial intelligence. The disclosures must provide specific information as to how and why the AI will be used.

A number of other laws are set to govern digital security, recreational marijuana, pre-employment drug testing, salary inquiries, etc. 

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the question of whether or not Title VII protections should be extended on the basis of sexual orientation sometime next year.
Additional details on the review can be found here.

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