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Friday
Nov152013

Holiday Parties | Top 10 Dos & Don'ts for Employers

Attorney for EmployersEmployer Defense Attorney

 

by Sue M. Bendavid
818.907.3220

 

You've heard the saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. You want to celebrate a year of company achievements. You want to reward your employees for their hard work and dedication. Maybe you just want to improve morale.

Whatever the case, celebrate with caution. Here are several common sense Holiday Rules for every employer:

  1. Create Atmosphere – Set a tone of moderation before the party, via emails, memos, etc., reminding employees to consume responsibly, have someone else drive, etc. Sometimes inviting the employees' family members and/or important company clients can keep an air of festivity AND responsibility.

  2. Respect Diversity – Do not host company parties for Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or anything with religious references. A Holiday Party or End-of-Year Event should be general enough to not offend.

  3. Making a List? Don't! – Don't make attendance mandatory, and don't take attendance at the party. It's certainly not very festive, but worse, it increases your liability risk.

    Keep in mind that if you give year-end awards or bonuses at the party, employees may infer they are obliged to attend.

  4. Coordinate Logistics – Consider holding the party off company premises, after working hours, and provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages. Close the bar at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end.  

  5. Limit Libations – Limit alcohol consumption.  Possible methods are to give employee drink vouchers, keep the bar open for a limited number of hours, or avoid serving alcohol altogether.

  6. Kill the Mistletoe – Keep it out of your offices and your parties. The last thing you want is to have an employee complain about a co-worker's unwanted advances. 

  7. Shot Calling? Another Don't! – During the work day, supervisors and managers call the shots. But they should never POUR them or any other alcoholic beverages during a company party.

  8. Hire Professionals: Not only will caterers or restaurant managers provide bartenders, they also have staff to clean up spills and generally keep the premises clean and safe.

  9. Provide Transportation – If you can't pay for taxi cabs and limos, organize carpools or designate drivers. Secure discounts at nearby hotels for employees with long drives, or those who do over-imbibe. 

  10. Anticipate Trouble – You can't do it all yourself. Designate supervisors to help keep an eye out for the overly-intoxicated, the overly-amorous, and the overly-rude.

Sue M. Bendavid is a Defense Lawyer for Employers. Contact her via email if you have any questions about minimizing liability risk and preventing employee claims: sbendavid@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Nov072013

Quick Personal Injury Settlements – Generally Not In Your Best Interest

Injury Attorney Los AngelesPersonal Injury Lawyer

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

When personal injury lawyers try to convince you to hire them because they can get you a quick settlement – walk away, fast.

A personal injury attorney’s most important job is to protect you and your future.  A lawyer does this by maximizing the amount of your recovery to pay for all past damages, and hopefully any expected future damages.  A quick settlement is usually code for “I want to get you money quick so I can earn my attorney fees soon and with little effort.” 

This, except in the rare circumstance, is not in your best  interest.

Maximum Medical Improvement

Generally, your attorney should wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement before starting negotiations on your case.  If your attorney does not, how does he or she know what your case is worth?  

Even after you are discharged and you initially feel that you are improved, our office likes to wait a month or two to allow you to get back into your normal daily activities to see if your body holds up and make sure your injuries do not flare up again.  If they do, you may need additional care. 

If you are able to return to normal daily activities and still feel back to normal, we will then put together all your medical records, bills, and lost earnings documentation and prepare a settlement package for the insurance company and begin negotiating. 

At this point, it will take additional time for the insurance company to review the materials, evaluate your case and present an offer.  Generally, the initial offer is a mere fraction of what your case is worth.  Therefore, it will take additional time for your attorney to negotiate back and forth, and perhaps file a lawsuit and litigate the case to prove to the insurance company that you are willing to fight for what your case is worth.

Serious Injuries Require Additional Time

What if your injuries are more serious and you will never be completely recovered?  This is all the more reason to make sure your attorney takes the time to determine the value of your injuries. 

If possible, it is best to wait until your injuries have plateaued and you know exactly what problems you will be dealing with into the future.  This is not always possible, as your injuries may not stabilize before your case must be litigated.  It is then imperative that your attorney takes the time to assemble the proper medical experts to be able to prove what care you will need in the future to best meet your medical and financial needs.

The exception to all of this is when there are limited funds compared to the value of your injuries (even in the beginning), in the form of minimum insurance policies and/or collectible funds.  At that point, once due diligence into the amount of money available is completed, a quick settlement may be meeting your needs – even if it’s less than what your case is worth.

Remember, you are the client and you will be the one who has to live with the injuries for the rest of your life.  Take the time to make sure you are receiving the compensation you deserve, and not just earning your attorney a “quick” fee.

 

David B. Bobrosky is a Personal Injury Lawyer and Shareholder at our Firm. Contact him via email: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com or by phone: (818) 907-3254 for more information.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tuesday
Oct292013

Presumptive Parents - It May Take Two or More in California

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

Remember Hillary Clinton's 1996 book, "It Takes a Village"?

It seems California Family Law Courts will now play by that theme, when circumstances warrant such consideration. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 274 recently, which allows the state to legally recognize more than two parents for a child.

This will only happen in certain situations, specifically, when recognizing only two parents is in some way detrimental for the child – family law courts will take into account health, welfare and safety to determine whether or not a child is best left in custody with Parent A, Parent B, Parent C or D, or placed in foster care.

Child Support Attorney

Necessity of Recognizing Multiple Parents

 

The senate bill was written largely in response to a rather bizarre 2011 Dependency Action in which a child, known as M.C., was conceived by Melissa and Jesus in 2008, but was born when Melissa was married to her partner Irene in 2009.

The two women have a volatile history of substance and physical abuse – Melissa previously sought dissolution of her domestic partnership to Irene and a temporary restraining order, months before they married. Melissa also suffers from bipolar disorder and depression.

Jesus acknowledged and demonstrated responsibilities for M.C. before she was born, but did not assert parental rights or responsibilities after her birth in 2009. Melissa married Irene in 2008. Several weeks after the birth of M.C., Melissa moved out again, taking the baby with her.

Irene filed a request for child custody and visitation, and joint legal and physical custody of M.C. Melissa obtained another restraining order against Irene, and then approached Jesus for financial help, which Jesus gave, along with requests that M.C. visit his family regularly.

In September of 2009, Melissa's new boyfriend Jose attacked Irene with a knife, critically injuring her. Melissa was charged as an accessory to attempted murder and M.C. was placed in foster care, despite Jesus' attempts to obtain custody.

This situation prompted SB 274, so that more than one parent can be recognized to prevent detriment to a child. Given the evolving definition of family, the new law makes sense in protecting the best interests of children.

 

Child Support, Custody & Paternity in California – Where Do We Stand Now?

 

Senate Bill 274 does not change the requirements for establishing parentage under the Uniform Parentage Act of 1973 - it merely gives Courts the option of recognizing more than two parents when necessary. The best interest of the child is the focus here, to include physical, emotional and financial considerations.

Under this new bill, child support obligations can be divided among all of the parents, based on their individual incomes. Visitation rights may also be divided to include a third parent. Joint custody between two parents will be the preferred option, but a third individual can now be factored into the equation.

The bill will give Family Law Courts a bit more flexibility in doing what's best for the child.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Child Support and Custody lawyer in our Family Law Practice Group. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Oct162013

Employers to Weather an Expansion in Wage & Hour Law

Lawyer for EmployerWage and Hour Defense

 

by Nicole Kamm
818.907.3235

 

The National Weather Service predicts cooling temperatures (in the mid-70s to the mid-80s) over the next couple of weeks, which will hopefully give SoCal employers a bit of a breather from worrying about new employee wage and hour claims.

Why?

Governor Jerry Brown just signed Senate Bill 435 into law. The bill expands the one hour pay penalty for missed meal and rest periods found in Labor Code 226.7 to include recovery periods. Recovery periods are also known as cool down periods, to prevent heat illness for employees working outdoors.

According to the California Heat Illness Prevention Standard (GISO 3395), employers must provide shade to accommodate at least 25 percent of their outdoor workforce when the temperature climbs above 85°F. Employers should not only allow, but also encourage employees to take five minutes or more under these shaded areas to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke. There are other guidelines regarding supplying employees with adequate amounts of drinking water, dealing with temperatures above 95°F, monitoring your employees' tolerance for heat, etc.  

Again, the “recovery period” requirement is an amendment to Labor Code §226.7. Employers were already prohibited from requiring employees to work during meal and rest periods. The new recovery period rule applies to all applicable orders, statutes or regulations under:

  • Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA) Board
  • Division of Occupational Safety and Health
  • California Law

Many California employers may see a rise in worker claims, particularly those whose businesses involve:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Delivery
  • Landscaping
  • Oil or Gas Extraction
  • Transportation

To keep your employees healthy, and minimize wage and hour claims in view of the amended statute, employers should review and comply with OSHA guidelines for providing water and shade, which require, among other things, a recovery period of not less than 5 minutes for employees who work outside to take a cool-down rest when the outdoor temperature exceeds 85°F. Employers should also train supervisors and workers to recognize early warning signs of heat illnesses.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about SB 435 and how best to minimize wage and hour claims.

 

Nicole Kamm is a Wage & Hour Claim Prevention Attorney at our firm. Contact her via email: nkamm@lewitthackman.com for more information.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Tuesday
Oct012013

Government Shutdown & How It Affects Your Business

Franchise & Trademark Litigation Lawyer

 

by Tal Grinblat & Stephen T. Holzer

818.990.2120

 

About 800,000 non-critical federal employees are out of the office today, and will remain out until Congress overcomes the impasse regarding the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, the government shutdown – the first since 1996 – will affect more than your travel plans, but also your business.

Here's how:

1. Courts: Federal Courts will remain open, and operate for the first 10 or so business days as usual. As funding dries up, non-critical employees will have to be furloughed, which means a potential slowing of the judicial process.

Government Shutdown Business Affects2. Commercial Finance: Those seeking business loans and loan guarantees will see their plans impeded. The Small Business Administration saw an influx of loan applications just before the shutdown, which will slow the review process once the SBA resumes operations.

3. Contracted Projects and Construction: Companies with government contracts may not be able to apply for and obtain permits and reviews. Construction projects will shut down.

4. Corporate Strategy: Ready to alert the Federal Trade Commission of anti-competitive practices or unlawful trading? You'll have to wait. (The Security and Exchange Commission is open, for now.)

5. Employer Defense: Employers, you may get a bit of a breather if you're facing employee wage and hour, discrimination, or other claims.  

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will continue to process claims, but will not conduct investigations or participate in scheduled mediations. The EEOC will continue to accept charges for filing, to preserve claimants' rights.

The National Labor Relations Board will not process charges (though special circumstances apply), and will postpone hearings.

The Department of Labor will investigate incidents involving serious injury or death and will continue some operations with minimal staff.

Employee Hiring: The E-Verify system of the Department of Homeland Security has been shutdown, which means employers will be unable to process I-9 work authorizations for the time being. You can submit late verifications when DHS resumes full operations.

6. Environmental Law:  The Environmental Protection Agency has mostly gone dark, though a few EPA projects that are not government-funded, and some considered emergency activities, will continue operating.

7. Intellectual Property: The U.S. Copyright Office, as well as its Public Information Office and Tech Support services, are closed. It's still possible to file a Copyright Application, but clients won't get results until the staff comes back to work.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is open, and will remain open for about four weeks. The PTO will shut down when they run out of reserve funds, and continue to run with minimal staff.

It's not all bad news.

The U.S. Postal Service is considered a private company, so you'll still be able to send and receive mail. The Social Security Administration will continue to send checks, and NASA will continue to keep the  lights on in their control rooms for our astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

But for those of us doing business on a day-to-day basis, we can only hope this shutdown won't last for very long.

 

Tal Grinblat is a Franchise & Trademark Lawyer, and Stephen T. Holzer is an Environmental & Business Litigation Attorney. Contact either of them via email: tgrinblat@lewitthackman.com, or sholzer@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120