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Farah and Farah, P.A.

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Workers Compensation

Three Employers Arrested for Not Providing Workers’ Compensation Insurance — Who Needs to Carry it in Florida?

By Farah & Farah on February 27, 2013

The workers’ compensation attorneys in Gainesville at Farah & Farah ran into a disturbing story in Naplesnews.com in which three separate employers were arrested for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance, as required by Florida law.

So, this begs the questions: who is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Florida? If your employer isn’t carrying it, what are your options if you are injured on the job?

First, not every employer is required to carry workers’ comp insurance in Florida. If the company where you work has three or fewer employees (construction being an exception) then your employer is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. However, this may be more complicated than it appears if you are hired on as an independent contractor or a seasonal worker.

The requirements for the construction industry are different. An employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance if he or she has one or more employees. That even includes the owner/employer of the company. Naplesnews.com reported that one of the employers caught in the arrest sweep was busted because he had not been carrying workers’ compensation insurance on himself.

As an employee, it is always good to check if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance and if you are covered. The employer is required to cover the entire workers’ comp insurance premium. The insurance must also be licensed in the state of Florida.

Of course, this is just a brief sketch of the requirements and exemptions for workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. If your employer doesn’t have required insurance and you are injured, then what do you do? What injuries are covered and which are not? How long can you be covered?

When you are injured on the job, it is a wise decision to seek professional legal advice about your benefits. That’s why the law firm of Farah & Farah still takes on workers’ compensation cases — so you can get the answers and the help you need. If you have questions about your legal rights following a workplace injury, call us at (800) 533-3555 or contact us online. Let us review your case. Your consultation is free.


Experts Warn Eye Injuries On The Job Should Be Taken Seriously

By Farah & Farah on January 4, 2013

24,790.

On the Job Eye InjuriesThat is approximately the number of U.S. workers who suffered an eye injury or illness that required them to miss a median of two days of work in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Yet, according to Larry L. Jackson, the chief of the injury Surveillance Team for the Surveillance and Field Investigations Branch of NIOSH’s Division of Safety Research, “employers and workers often do not understand or appreciate the danger that hazards may pose to their vision.”

He notes that workers often perceive that eye injuries will only be minor, but in reality, the eye is much more likely to suffer permanent damage than most parts of the body because of its unique structure.

While the reasons for resistance to wearing eye protection at work vary — from claiming it dampens productivity to it looking unstylish — Jackson told NSC.org that it is up to employers to encourage worker compliance and train workers on proper eye protection for each on-the-job hazard.

The safety manager for John Hopkins Medicine says that workers need to be reminded that simple safety precautions can save them a lifetime of hardship due to vision loss. “It takes only one injury to change the rest of your life,” she stated.

It is an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Farah & Farah in Florida are here to help you and your family get through a rough spot if you have been injured on the job and are unable to work. We will work tirelessly to see that you get the worker’s compensation benefits you are entitled to.

If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, it contact the experienced legal team at the law firm of Farah & Farah. We can be reached toll-free at (800) 533-3555 or simply contact us online.


Lump Sum Workers’ Comp Settlements May Be Helpful

By Farah & Farah on July 23, 2012

There has been an ongoing debate whether lump-sum settlements in workers’ compensation cases discourage injured workers from returning to work. A study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has published a study that suggests that’s not the case.

Researchers for WCRI looked at 2,100 workers who were injured in Michigan in 2004 and later received a lump-sum settlement. The study then followed the workers’ employment experience through 2008. WCRI found that 78 percent of those workers in the study did not change their employment status.

In other words, the study found that more injured workers returned to work after receiving lump-sum payments than exited. The exception was older workers who tended to experience a decline in employment after receiving a lump-sum payment.

The author of the study stated, “This is an important study because we need to find out whether settlements discourage return to work for injured workers who want to return to work or assist them in closing this chapter of their life and moving on with their career. My hope is this research will help policymakers and other stakeholders understand how workers respond to receiving a lump-sum settlement.”

But, is a lump-sum settlement in your best interest if you’ve been injured on the job?

Don’t know?

That’s why contacting the workers’ compensation attorneys in Ocala at Farah & Farah is a smart move when you’ve been injured on the job. Our firm has over 25 years of experience dealing with workers’ compensation insurance companies and looking after our clients’ best interests. If you need sound legal advice concerning your claim, we’re here. Call us at (800) 533-3555.


OSHA Denies Petition to Enact a Heat Stress Standard

By Farah & Farah on July 11, 2012

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has denied a petition from watchdog group Public Citizen and other groups to enact an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to set a federal heat threshold standard for workers.

Public Citizen said in a statement that it is disappointed by the agency’s denial because over the past 20 years, at least 563 U.S. workers have died and more than 46,000 have suffered serious injuries due to heat stress. With this year already being the hottest on record, and with the specter of global warming looming large, the group claims that the toll is likely to escalate if a federal standard is not implemented.

The lead author of the Public Citizen’s petition was blunt. “OSHA’s denial makes explicit the agency’s position to ignore 40 years of expert consensus in the interest of placating industry,” he said.

For its part, OSHA said in a statement that although it had no plans to enact a heat stress standard “anytime soon,” the agency had taken a number of actions to protect workers from heat hazards — such as its recent “education and outreach” campaign that alerted employers and employees to the dangers of heat exposure.

Public Citizen says that while the feds have been dragging their feet, states like California, Washington, and Minnesota have enacted their own regulations to protect workers from heat exposure.

It is an employer’s responsibility to assure that employees have a safe work environment. If you have been injured while on-the-job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To ensure you receive full and just benefits, call the Tampa worker’s compensation lawyers at Farah & Farah if you have questions concerning a workplace accident. We are available at (800) 533-3555 to provide answers concerning your legal rights.


April 22-28 is National Work Zone Awareness Week: Heighten Your Awareness

By Farah & Farah on April 26, 2012

FL Work Accident FatalityState transportation departments throughout the nation are taking time out this week to emphasize the need for safer work zones on highways and roads. The theme for this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week is, “Don’t Barrel Through Work Zones — Drive Smart to Arrive Alive.”

This is the 13th year that the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has collaborated with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) to sponsor the national safety awareness event.

This year, National Work Zone Awareness Week is emphasizing that drivers need to slow down, pay attention to the road, and keep an eye out for workers when driving through work zones. AASHTO’s executive director said that drivers need to keep their eyes on the road. “Texting and other distractions have become a major concern. When you’re traveling at 50 or 60 miles per hour, it only takes a couple of seconds of distraction to cause a major tragedy.”

A Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson said that in 2010, there were 69 fatalities in Florida work zones and 6,064 injuries. “These zones demand slower speeds and increased awareness of people and equipment moving in the area,” she stated.

Roadway construction zones are particularly dangerous places to work and most fatalities that occur in road construction involve a worker being struck by a piece of construction equipment or another vehicle.

Workers in road construction zones can be exposed to serious, life-threatening work-related injuries. If you or a member of your family has been injured in a construction accident and can’t work, it can be a frightening and confusing time. A Florida workers’ compensation attorney at Farah & Farah can help you understand your legal options. Call us at (800) 533-3555 for a consultation today.


Reports Point Out ‘Toxic Trio’ Dangers for Nail Salon Workers

By Farah & Farah on April 24, 2012

The Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) recently reported that contrary to what many nail polish manufacturers claim, their products contain dangerous chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde — three chemicals referred to as the “toxic trio.”

DTSC investigators randomly collected 25 brands of nail polishes only available at salons and later checked them for the ‘toxic trio.” What they found was that 10 of the 12 products that had been touted as toluene free actually contained significant levels of the chemical. Four of the products actually had dangerous levels of toluene.

Seven of the products claimed to be free of all of the dangerous chemicals. The DTSC found that five of them contained at least one of the chemicals. Ironically, nail polish products that didn’t claim to be “toxic free” had lower levels of the dangerous chemicals than those that claimed to be “non-toxic.”

The director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum stated that the report showed that not only are manufacturers including dangerous ingredients in their products, but that they are lying about it. However, what she found to be most disturbing is that, “the cosmetic industry continues to be almost completely unregulated — the FDA still does not have the power it needs to keep consumers and salon workers safe.”

Unfortunately, it is the women who work in salons who are most at risk from exposure to these chemicals. They often work long hours in rooms with poor ventilation. If proper care is not taken in the work environment, overexposure to these chemicals can lead to reproductive health harm, breathing problems, and increased risk of developing cancer.

If you believe you’ve been harmed on the job, you may be eligible for compensation. A Tallahassee workers’ compensation lawyer at Farah & Farah will work with you to see that all liable parties are held responsible. Please call us at (800) 533-3555 for a free, no-obligation consultation.


Miami Security Contractor Must Pay Back Wages

By Farah & Farah on April 2, 2012

Miami officials have demanded that a security firm contracted to provide services to the city pay back wages to its employees.

An investigation conducted by the Miami Purchasing Department found that Kent Security appeared to have violated the city’s “living wage” law when it underpaid 29 out of 34 employees who had been working under city contracts. Miami’s “living wage” is set in April of each year to equal 110 percent of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ poverty guidelines. For 2011, the minimum wage was $13.07 for workers without health insurance and $11.82 for workers receiving health benefits.

According to city officials, twenty-eight employees who had not requested health insurance were receiving $12.40 an hour. Another employee not receiving health benefits was getting $12.65 an hour. However, five other employees with health insurance were receiving more than the minimum wage.

The company claims it thought it was complying with the law. A spokesman for the company told the Miami Herald, “We have always considered ourselves compliant, and we have paid whatever the city wanted us to pay.”

However, one local union official wasn’t buying that, and he urged city administrators to sanction the company. “The city should really set an example this activity isn’t going to be tolerated,” he told the Herald.

Miami has many sanction options, including terminating the company’s contract or fining Kent $500 for each underpaid employee.

If your employer has been treating you unfairly and breaking the law in the process, a workers’ compensation attorney in Florida at Farah & Farah may be able to help you obtain rightful wages and other compensation. Give us a call at (800) 533-3555 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/29/2722726/security-contractor-pays-back.htmln=1


Orange Attire Gets 14 Employees Fired from Florida Law Firm

By Farah & Farah on March 27, 2012

If you think it’s not easy being green, just try being orange at the Law Offices of Elizabeth R. Wellborn in Deerfield Beach. That’s where former employees of the legal practice claim that they were fired for wearing orange to work.

Some of the terminated employees said the act was a bonding gesture to display uniformity when they all went out to a happy hour every Friday. The practice continued each Friday for several months until an executive of the law firm called all 14 of the orange-donning employees into a conference room to discuss their fashion choices.

The executive wasn’t buying the “happy hour” story and asked the gathered employees whether they were wearing orange for any other reason. The higher-up claimed to know of a protest among the employees linked to their wearing orange. Allegedly, at least one employee answered there were no ulterior protest motives, but the executive announced that all 14 of the employees would be let go anyway.

One former employee alleges that they were given no warning of the terminations and received no severance packages. The law firm offered no comment on the firings.

At-Will Employment

There are 37 states that recognize “at-will employment” — Florida is one of them. As long as there is no contract or union involved, an employer under this legal doctrine can terminate an employee for any reason or for no reason, as long as the firing is legal.

Ironically, the fired employees at the law firm may have been protected under the National Labor Relations Act if they had told the executive they had been wearing orange as a protest.

Establishing whether a termination is legal is a job for the experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorneys at Farah & Farah. If you feel you have been unfairly treated or fired from your job, call us at (800) 533-3555. The call is confidential and free.


Pregnant Florida Woman’s FMLA Claim Still Up in the Air

By Farah & Farah on March 13, 2012

A Pompano Beach woman is in the middle of a complex case that calls into question when exactly a pregnant woman might be eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits.

The woman had been working at the Brookdale Senior Living Community for eight months when she announced to management that she was pregnant. She then requested FMLA leave for the birth that would happen five months later. Those benefits would have allowed her twelve workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave within a 12-month period.

She claims there were no issues on the job prior to her announcement, but that afterwards Brookdale started harassing her — writing her up for management-approved doctor’s visits and for taking time off without verbal authorization — and eventually fired her over her job performance. She called the criticisms unfair and the job improvement plan she was placed on as rife with “unattainable goals.”

She filed an FMLA violation complaint with two counts of interference and retaliation. The district court threw out the case, saying that there could be no interference and retaliation was improbable because she hadn’t been eligible for FMLA protections when she had made the request.

The woman appealed the decision and the appeals court found that although it was true that she had been ineligible at the time she had made the request, she would have been eligible by the time she had given birth. The court found that employers could use this as a “powerful loophole” to fire employees before they became eligible for FMLA-protected leave. They reversed the district court finding and saw cause for the retaliation claim.

The case has been remanded for further proceedings.

The workers’ compensation attorneys in Tallahassee at Farah and Farah will be keeping a close eye on this case. If you think an employer has wrongfully terminated you, a call to (800) 533-3555 should be your first step in seeking your legal workplace protections.

Sources: http://www.humanresourcesjournal.com/2012/03/florida-restaurant-agrees-to-settle-sexual-harassment-suit/;http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/


Florida Server Sues for Sexual Harassment, Restaurant Owners Pay Up

By Farah & Farah on March 12, 2012

The owners of a Florida restaurant found out the hard way that looking the other way while a patron sexually harasses employees is not only illegal, but it can also be expensive. They agreed to pay a female server who worked at the Hurricane Grill and Wings restaurant in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, $200,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation suit brought for her by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The action brought by the EEOC alleges that the woman and several other female servers were inappropriately touched repeatedly and subjected to sexual innuendo by a customer. The patron, a Palm Beach sheriff’s deputy, allegedly solicited several of the workers to join him and his wife in a sexual tryst.

Restaurant management did nothing to stop the customer’s behavior and when it was found out that one of the women had hired a lawyer to help her file a complaint with the EEOC, she was fired.

Tolerating such behavior is a violation of federal law; as is terminating an employee who tries to complain about harassment in the workplace. Hurricane Wings Management, which currently owns the restaurant, has agreed to take steps to curb sexual harassment at their establishment and will give the customer who was allegedly responsible for the harassment a written request to stay away from the restaurant.

The EEOC’s Miami regional attorney stated, “A high percentage of sexual harassment charges are filed by women in the restaurant industry, and this decree will serve to protect the rights of particularly vulnerable segment of the workplace.”

It is the law that employers keep their employees safe from a sexually hostile work environment. If you have been harassed at your job, a call to the Florida worker’s compensation lawyers at Farah and Farah is in order. Sexual harassment should never be tolerated. A call to (800) 533-3555 today can help ensure your rights are protected.

Sources: http://www.humanresourcesjournal.com/2012/03/florida-restaurant-agrees-to-settle-sexual-harassment-suit/