Posts made in May, 2015

More than 30,000 arrests are made by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) every year, all these on drug-related crimes alone. Despite such, as well as the continuous surveillance and operations of law enforcement agencies to bust criminals and free the streets of drugs, trafficking, distribution, possession and use of illegal narcotics (like cocaine, heroin, marijuana and 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) otherwise known as Ecstasy) are still significant problems in the country.

Many non-violent individuals suffer years of jail term due to the very wrong thought that smuggling drugs into the US is too easy money to pass up. Obviously, they willingly take the risk of being caught and being made to face heavy penalties in exchange for the big amount of cash they will get in return.

A drug-related activity, most especially drug trafficking, is a serious federal crime with harsh mandatory sentences. For possession of drugs, for instance, most states carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 to 40 months imprisonment plus steep fines (other states also include many hours of community service, which will serve as additional penance for the crime).

For drug selling, offenders will face much harsher penalties, including three to nine years imprisonment (even longer for those found guilty of selling drugs to minors). The law firm Kohler Hart Powell, SC, explains on its website the gravity of drug-related offenses and the penalties these carry, especially the penalties for drug trafficking, which include: years of jail sentence; fine amounting to thousands of dollars; loss of right to vote until the completion of the entire felony sentence; loss of the right to carry a gun; and, loss of certain academic and professional opportunities.

Use of illegal drugs is linked to some of the leading causes of death, like homicide, sexual crimes, violence, suicide, HIV infection, hepatitis, pneumonia, mental illness and motor-vehicle injuries. It is because of these other consequences, which put the lives of so many others in danger, why law enforcement officers and the DEA fight the crime with much more intensity. Thus, rather than just charging an individual with possession, law enforcers also look for signs, such as small plastic bags, scales and large amounts of cash, which are all possible signs of intent to sell.

The penalties awaiting a person convicted of a drug crime should never be taken lightly; more so, however, are the effects of a conviction which, according to the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, can definitely ruin a person’s future even years after his/her conviction and despite having completed the terms of his/her sentence. Because whether he/she likes it or not, his/her crime and conviction will be on record accessible, especially, to potential employers.

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Thus, though a person may, indeed, be caught with illegal drugs in his/her possession, he/she is very much entitled to the most competent legal defense available which can help prove that he/she may not really be guilty of a crime after all.

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The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Posted By on May 19, 2015

In the spring of 2012, a 16 weeks pregnant woman was rushed to a hospital somewhere in Manhattan. It was discovered by the attending physician at that time that the woman was employed as a cashier in one of the city’s large stores. Despite her doctor’s orders that she drink water frequently due to her condition, her boss did not allow her to do so while she worked at the cash register. Unable to take adequate amounts of fluids, plus the requirement of having to stand for hours at the register, eventually resulted to her fainting, collapsing and suffering from severe dehydration.

Despite Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition of workplace discrimination based on one’s sex or gender and the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act‘s (PDA) outlawing of pregnancy discrimination, many women continue to suffer unfair treatment due to their pregnancy.

The story above is, in fact, just one of the thousands of cases which show discrimination based on pregnancy. While managers would usually consider the plight of disabled employees as an act of compliance with the stipulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, giving employees with disabilities lighter or less strenuous jobs, women, who become pregnant and request for temporary reasonable adjustments in their work, are, instead, either sent on a forced leave or are fired immediately.

In the hope of effectively addressing the plight of pregnant employees, the 113th US Congress (2013-2014) proposed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which declares it unlawful for employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and other identified entities to:

  • Fail to create reasonably acceptable accommodations for women job applicants and employees in view of the limitations temporarily brought about by their pregnancy, childbirth and other related medical conditions unless such accommodation would cause undue hardship in the business operations of that entity
  • Deny opportunities in employment based on the firm’s need to make such reasonable adjustments or accommodations
  • Require pregnant employees or job applicants to consent to a job accommodation which they would not want to accept
  • Require pregnant employees to go on leave when a reasonable accommodation can be provided so as not to compromise their condition

The proposed Pregnant Workers Fairness Act also directs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to make regulations to carry out this Act, as well as identify specific reasonable accommodations that will address the limitations of women (due to their pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions).

As of April 2015, a total of 14 states and five cities have already passed laws that will require certain employers to provide reasonable accommodations to all their pregnant workers. These states and cities include: Alaska; California; Central Falls, Rhode Island; Connecticut; Delaware; District of Columbia; Hawaii; Illinois; Louisiana; Maryland; Minnesota; Nebraska; New Jersey; New York City, New York; North Dakota; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; Texas; and, West Virginia.

According to the website of law firm Cary Kane LLP, employers should comply with all federal and state employment laws and make sure that their businesses are free from any form of discriminatory acts. Thus, it is important that those who strongly feel that they are being discriminated upon, most especially pregnant women, should contact a seasoned lawyer immediately for proper investigation of their case and the legal options they are entitled to pursue.

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Work-related injuries, illnesses and fatal accidents continue to be a major concern of federal, state and local governments due to their high count despite the laws which mandate that all working environments should be kept healthy and safe for all employees.

Records from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal a little more than three million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses, and 4,405 deaths in 2013. Despite the substantial difference in the number of deaths compared to the latter part of the 20th century (about 14,000 job-related deaths every year), authorities from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) knows that there is still so much to be done, considering the fact that accidents are almost always results of acts of negligence.

Every time a worker is harmed different issues are brought into the open, including the concerned employer’s compliance with workplace safety laws, and the severity of the injury and the effect it will have on the victim’s personal, professional and financial future.

Some accidents cause no more than minor scratches, while others may be a little more serious and, thus, require days or weeks of bed rest. Some injuries are definitely severe, however, causing long term disabilities (LTD) that render a worker unable to work for months or even years, taking away his or her capability to earn wages.

Good thing, however, some employers provide their employees with a long term disability (LTD) insurance policy as part of their comprehensive employee benefits package; this is to protect their employees from losing any form of earnings during the long period when their injury or illness will keep them out of work.

The effectivity of a long term disability policy is usually up to 10 years or until the employee reaches the age of 65. An employee can start enjoying the benefits of his/her LTD policy after his/her short term disability insurance benefits, if he/she has one, have ended (the short term disability insurance benefits typically last between three to six months).

Most LTD insurance policies are designed to pay disabled employees about 50 – 70 percent of their salary. The benefits in employer-provide LTD policies, however, are subject to taxes, reducing further what the injured employee would receive. Due to this, there are employees who decide to purchase a personal supplemental long term disability insurance; besides the higher pay, this is also tax exempt.

Despite employees’ eligibility to receive LTD benefits, many applications get denied or are awarded benefits that are below what the policy stipulates. Many insurance providers, obviously, are guilty of avoiding making payments, thus, they do all things possible to deny claims, delay assessment of applications or payment of claims, or pay much lower benefits.

While the website of the Hankey Law Office, P.C., says that applying for benefits can be a long and difficult process, so would making an appeal to have an application reconsidered. Since an insurance policy is a legal contract, the firm wisely advises the injured employee and his/her family to transact any business with the insurance provider through the help of a legal expert who is adept in the LTD insurance benefits law.

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Anyone with huge debt, that is unable to pay will possibly go through that nerve-racking experience of being hounded and harassed by creditors or debt-collectors until he or she makes a forced decision to pay what he or she owes.

Loss of job, reduction in income, an unexpected health problem that requires costly medical treatment, divorce, a natural calamity, etc., are just some of the reasons for people’s sudden inability to pay a mortgage, a car loan and other debts. But the more payments missed only results to the cost of the debt piling up until it reaches an amount that is already quite impossible for the borrower to still settle.

Can a borrower still save himself or herself from his or her seemingly impossible-to-pay overwhelming debts? A “No” will definitely be devastating; fortunately, however, the answer is “Yes,” and the means is a legal one even – Bankruptcy.

In 2010, an estimated 1.53 million Americans filed bankruptcy in various U.S. federal bankruptcy courts. Bankruptcy is a legal procedure wherein a person (or a business) declares inability to make further payments in settlement of his or her debts. It has been allowed by the law to give people (or firms) a fresh start in their financial lives.

In every concern there is a bankruptcy chapter that would be the appropriate solution. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or liquidation bankruptcy, for instance, is one that requires a debtor to surrender to a court-appointed trustee his or her “non-exempt” assets and properties for liquidation. One task of the trustee is to sell these properties in order to raise the amount needed in paying off the borrower’s creditors. Payment will only be on debts that are non- dischargeable; these include, but are not limited to:

  • Unlisted debts and creditors
  • Most student loans, unless paying these would cause “undue hardship” to the borrower and/or his or her dependents
  • Federal, state, and local taxes which are no more than three years old from the time these first became due
  • Court fees
  • Government-imposed penalties, fines, and restitution
  • Child support and alimony or spousal support
  • Debts resulting from wrongful death or personal injury damages if these are consequences of DUI

Dischargeable debts, on the other hand, include personal loans, credit card loans, medical bills, past utility bills, etc.; the debtor is freed from these debts by the court.

For “non-exempt,” some of the assets and properties that the law has identified under this classification include:

  • Motor vehicles, jewelry and tools used by the debtor in his or her trade or profession – but only up to a certain value
  • Reasonably necessary household furnishings and goods, and clothing
  • Household appliances
  • Pensions, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and a certain percentage of the borrower’s still unpaid but earned wages
  • Compensation for personal injury.
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Cars: Convenience or Danger?

Posted By on May 10, 2015

Being offered a car ride to your destination is definitely great convenience, but being able to drive your own can is nothing less than traveling freedom.

A car is the most common means of transport for Americans today. Regardless of destination, millions of individuals take to the road every day, never mindful of fuel cost, traffic, or the danger of a possible road accident.

The website of the The Benton Law Firm confirms the fact that a car, rather than a luxury, is now a necessity for many people. The convenience it offers, though, the firm continues, is also faced with commensurate danger due to the recklessness or negligence of a lot of drivers and other persons concerned, including vehicle manufacturers and those tasked to keep roads and highways driving-hazard free. The so many motor vehicle accidents every year, which injure more than 2 million individuals and take the lives of more than 30,000 others, are the clear results of these careless behaviors.

Drunk driving, reckless driving, overspeeding (or even driving way below the speed limit), driver error, distracted driving, which includes cell phone use, highway defects, and car or car part defect, are the reasons for the millions of preventable accidents all across the US, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Car accidents do not only result to physical injuries and property damages. These entail other consequences that may possibly alter the life of victims and their families, especially if the injury leads to permanent disability or death. While non-fatal accidents, whether minor or severe, would require medical treatment (which can be costly), loss of income, or (if disabling) loss of the capability to continue work or find employment, an untimely death can put the victim’s family into financial trouble, especially if the victim is the head of, or bread-winner in, the family.

The Mokaram Law Firm explains on its website the right of victims or their families to file a civil lawsuit against the liable negligent party for the possibility of recovering compensation from them, for the damages resulting from, and may still result from, the injury. Preparing all necessary documents relating to the accident and the injury, proving the accused party’s negligent or reckless behavior, and filing the lawsuit within the given statutory limit, can all be too much worry and complex for the victim. Thus, having a Houston personal injury attorney could be a wise decision.

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