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(c) 2014 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Stand With Workers on Black Friday

Today's post is shared from fbgslaw.com

Donald W. Fraulob


California Labor Federation is attempting to organize a protest against Walmart for its failure to pay its employees a living wage.  Here is the union alert:
Wouldn’t it be amazing if working families gathered together on Black Friday and sent a message to the country’s largest employer that its workers deserve a living wage and full-time work? Well, that’s exactly what’s going to happen, and you can be a part of it.
Walmart is the largest private employer in the world, and the Walton family, owners of the company, has more wealth than 43% of Americans combined. While the retailer rakes in $16 billion a year in profits, it pays poverty wages and many of its workers have to rely on public programs, like food stamps, to survive.
That’s why working families will be gathering at Walmart stores across the country on Black Friday to tell the Waltons to do the right thing.
We know Walmart pays attention to these protests, and you can help change not just the company’s policies, but the lives of workers. We have already seen recent successes, like when Walmart changed its policy on pregnant women after workers submitted a resolution to the company or when the retailer created a system that gives workers better access to hours by allowing them to sign up for open shifts online.
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Contributed by Donald W. Fraulob. Donald W. Fraulob is the firm’s managing attorney. He also maintains an active practice in Social Security Disability, Workers’ Compensation, and Wills and Trusts, including health care directives and special needs trusts. He is knowledgeable in union pension plans and benefits and was counsel in a major class action case which enhanced the disability and retirement pensions for members of our law enforcement community.

Mr. Fraulob has been recognized as highly competent and ethical by his peers and has been awarded special acknowledgment in Top Lawyers in Northern California for many years. He is certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a certified specialist in Workers’ Compensation. Mr. Fraulob is a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board arbitrator. His advice and counsel is sought out by many attorneys throughout the Sacramento area.

Mr. Fraulob is a graduate of McGeorge School of Law of the University of the Pacific. He is a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar, as well as federal district courts and all California Courts. He established the Student Law Center at California State University, Sacramento, and served as its first attorney/director. He is active in appellate litigation. Some of his appellate cases have resulted in extension of benefits in the Workers’ Compensation arena. He often speaks at legal conventions and seminars.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Administration Warns Employers: Don't Dump Sick Workers From Plans

Today's post is shared from npr.org

Man holding pills with banknote money flying away
Man holding pills with banknote money flying away

As employers try to minimize expenses under the health law, the Obama administration has warned them against paying high-cost workers to leave the company medical plan and buy coverage elsewhere.
Such a move would unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their health status, three federal agencies said in a bulletin issued in early November.
Brokers and consultants have been offering to save large employers money by shifting workers with expensive conditions such as hepatitis or hemophilia into insurance marketplace exchanges established by the health law, Kaiser Health News reported in May.
The Affordable Care Act requires exchange plans to accept all applicants at pre-established prices, regardless of existing illness.
Because most large employers are self-insured, moving even one high-cost worker out of the company plan could save a company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That's far more than the $10,000 or so it might give an employee to pay for an exchange plan's premiums.
"Rather than eliminating coverage for all employees, some employers ... have considered paying high-cost claimants relatively large amounts if they will waive coverage under the employer's plan," Lockton Cos., a large brokerage, said in a recent memo to clients.
The trend concerns consumer advocates because it threatens to erode employer-based coverage and drive up costs and premiums in the marketplace plans, which would absorb...
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BROKEN PROMISE: THE DEMISE OF “SURE AND CERTAIN RELIEF” UNDER THE NORTH DAKOTA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACT

Todya's post is shared from http://law.und.edu/
and is authored by By Dean J. Haas*

The workers’ compensation bargain in which employees gave up the
ability to sue their employers in exchange for “sure and certain relief” is
premised on the economic theory that such voluntary agreement between
competing interests promotes efficiency in an unfettered market. The cost
of workers’ compensation, ostensibly borne by employers, is supposedly
priced into the cost of the product or service. This is said to “internalize”
the cost to industry, a bedrock economic principle necessary to ensure
efficient allocation of resources and employee safety. Yet, in North Dakota,
the bargain is broken. Employee safety has taken a backseat to saving
employers money. This is evident in nearly every aspect of workers’
compensation in North Dakota. Medical necessity determinations are
subject to resolution under a binding dispute resolution mechanism without
a right to a hearing. And once disability benefits have been terminated, a
mistaken decision by the North Dakota Supreme Court precludes
opportunity for reinstatement in a great number of cases. In addition, the
byzantine and restrictive Century Code, conservative rulings of the Court,
and the adversarial litigation posture of Workforce Safety and Insurance
have resulted in the near death of the claimants’ bar. Employees who have
lost their job and are denied workers compensation benefits are often unable
to afford to hire an attorney. Further, Workforce Safety’s vigorous defense
strategy includes excessive reliance on out-of-state Independent Medical
Examinations. And the Agency’s consistent lobbying against any
legislation that improves benefits or merely levels the playing field
highlights the degree to which North Dakota has broken its promise of
relief to injured employees. Unfortunately, a remedy does not appear
anywhere on the horizon. Employees attracted to North Dakota find that if
they are unfortunate enough to suffer a work injury here, their financial
health is as devastated as their physical being. Admittedly, not all physical
injuries can be prevented. But human virtue requires North Dakota live up
to its promise of “sure and certain” relief.

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* Dean J. Haas received his J.D. (with distinction) from the University of North Dakota in 1983
and an LL.M. in Health Law (honors) from the University of Houston in 2001. Haas was counsel
to the North Dakota Workers’ Compensation Fund from 1983-1995 and has represented hundreds
of injured workers since. Haas is currently practicing law at Larson Latham Huettl in Bismarck.

Wal-Mart workers plan Black Friday protests for higher pay

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from www.latimes.com


Wal-Mart protest
Wal-Mart protest

Wal-Mart workers and their supporters plan to launch protests at stores across the country on Black Friday to push for higher wages and better working conditions for employees.Organizers say rallies and marches will occur at 1,600 Wal-Mart locations on the day after Thanksgiving in what they say will be the largest protests ever against the nation's biggest retailer.

Backing the demonstrations is Our Wal-Mart, the union-supported group of employees that has been pushing for a living wage of $15 an hour and more full-time positions. A protest earlier this month at a Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera ended with the arrest of 23 people for unlawful assembly and failure to disperse.
Martha Sellers, a cashier at the Wal-Mart store in Paramount,  said her low salary forces her to rely on ramen noodles and sometimes peanut butter to survive.
"The truth is it's not easy to talk about hunger and being hungry," Sellers said during a media call on Friday. She said she wants $15 an hour so she can buy groceries that are healthy.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said many of the protesters participating in the Black Friday demonstrations are being paid to show up by unions.
"We have seen this story before about the protesters and unions threatening to protest in a large amount of stores," she said. "What it turns out to be is a handful of stores with a handful of associates."
Large...
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Recall management poor at hospitals

Today's post was shared by Take Justice Back and comes from www.modernhealthcare.com

As the number of medical-device recalls has rapidly increased, so has the complexity of the recalls. That is raising questions about safety and risks for hospitals that mostly still track and locate faulty products manually.
There were 1,190 recalls of medical devices in 2012, nearly double the 604 recalls reported to the Food and Drug Administration in 2003.
In August, Customed, a Puerto Rico-based supplier of surgical kits, trays and packs, recalled 233 products because of sterility issues, making it the largest single-day recall in FDA history. Other high-profile recalls, such as the removal from the market of metal-on-metal hip implants starting in 2010, led to billions of dollars in lawsuits against the manufacturers and thousands of patients having to undergo revision surgery. Other recalls have been more obscure, such as when a supplier must issue corrective language for a user manual.
Most if not all hospitals have recall management programs in place. The Joint Commission issued standards for hospital recall policies that detailed how to respond to recalls and alerts. But experts at the ECRI Institute, a not-for-profit that studies the safety and effectiveness of medical products and services, say not all hospitals are updating their programs to reflect the growth and complexity of today's recalls.
“This issue is frequently flying under the radar of executives,” said Eric Sacks, ECRI's director of healthcare product alerts. “Supply chains are becoming...
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Surgical Tool Gets Strongest Warning

Today's post was shared by Take Justice Back and comes from online.wsj.com


A close-up photo of one of the currently approved morcellators.
A close-up photo of one of the currently approved morcellators.
A close-up photo of one of the currently approved morcellators. Dustin Chambers for The Wall Street Journal
The top U.S. health regulator warned Monday that a common surgical tool shouldn’t be used on most women during hysterectomies, a decision that caps nearly a year of debate and is expected to sharply curtail a procedure that the agency said can spread hidden cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration used its authority to call for an immediate “black box” warning for laparoscopic power morcellators, the strongest caution the agency issues. Typically, such warnings on product labels undergo a lengthy comment period before being completed, lawyers for device makers said.
“We believe that in the vast majority of women, the procedure should not be performed,” said William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
The move strengthens guidance the FDA issued in April and draws tight boundaries around use of a device that divided gynecologists and alarmed women. Morcellators were being used in thousands of minimally-invasive procedures every year to remove growths known as fibroids. While fibroids are benign, they can be hard to distinguish from a dangerous form of cancer called uterine sarcoma, which can’t be reliably detected before surgery. Morcellators, which typically use a fast-spinning...
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Safety delays over faulty air bags

Today's post was shared by Take Justice Back and comes from www.washingtonpost.com

THE NATIONAL Highway Transportation Safety Administration is widening its crackdown on air bags at risk of exploding — potentially killing or maiming the people they are supposed to protect. This is another case in which it has taken years for the government and car companies to come to grips with the full scale of a deadly automotive defect, demonstrating again that the nation’s vehicle safety monitors aren’t doing a good enough job.
Takata is one of a few firms worldwide that manufacture air bags. The devices are supposed to deploy with enough force to provide protection in milliseconds, preventing dangerous impacts with other parts of a car. The bags at issue appear prone to deploy too violently, creating metal shards and propelling them toward people in the car. The problem has been linked to four U.S. deaths and many injuries — including those of Stephanie Erdman, who testified before a Senate panel on Thursday that she was blinded in one eye after her Honda air bag deployed.
Takata air-bag recalls have been going on since 2008, but evidence of the problem began emerging long before that. The company admitted last week that Honda sent it photos of a burst air bag in 2005 that it failed to investigate. Since then, the scale of the problem has grown alarmingly. Air bags in humid places seem to be more at risk, suggesting some interaction between chemicals used to deploy air bags and moisture. Recalls first focused on 8 million cars in humid...
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