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Rice Law Office Blog

This blog reviews important legal issues including: personal injury, employee compensation, workers compensation, discrimination and wrongful termination.

Know Your Third Party Employment Rights: A Cautionary Tale for Employees and Employers

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As one employer recently found out, neither "primary" nor "secondary" employers may retaliate or discriminate based on FMLA protected conduct in a joint employment setting.

A recent fourth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision addressing primary and secondary employer responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) brings into question: Who's really responsible for the proper implementation of these important employee rights in the setting of joint employment?

In the case of Quintana v. City of Alexandria, No. 16-1630 (4th Cir., June 6, 2017), The fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's decision on summary judgement and found that the plaintiff, had provided strong evidence that the city of Alexandria, Virginia was her primary employer despite the fact that it had engaged a third-party administrator and staffing company to administer the payroll for her position.

 

Facts of the Case

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Tips for Car Seat Safety in the Summer Months

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With summer here and school out, more and more of us are on the move in cars with kids in tow. 

As our little ones travel back-and-forth between daycare, camp, the beach and play dates, they'll also find themselves riding in other people's cars. According to the Center for Disease Control, 150 children between ages 0 and 19 are being treated in emergency departments across the country for injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes every hour. With this in mind, it's important that we do everything we can to keep our children safe from road traffic injuries. Thankfully, there are small steps we can take which have a huge impact in securing that our children will get from place to place safely this summer. One of most obvious places to start is with our childrens’ car seats.

 

We all know it's important that we make sure our children are properly buckled up in a car seat. However, it can be a challenge to install a car seat correctly and even more of a struggle sometimes to wrangle wiggly kids into their restraints.  As a result, friends or caregivers who are tasked with transportation this summer but who aren't as familiar with your car seat, might have a hard time tucking your children in safely. 

 

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Personal Injury Blog Part 3: When can personal injury claims be combined with a claim for workers' compensation?

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When an employee gets hurt during and in the course of work, it is usually true that the "exclusive remedy" for the worker’s losses comes from the workers' compensation laws and the workers' compensation insurance company. However, that isn't entirely true. While the employee’s exclusive remedy against the employer comes from workers' compensation (assuming the employer carries workers' compensation insurance), the employee may also obtain damages or benefits from another person who is not the employer and who is responsible for the damages suffered. This is what's known as a "third-party claim."

 

Workers’ Compensation As The “Exclusive Remedy” for Injuries At Work.

Usually, if an employee gets hurt at work, the employee can make a claim for workers' compensation, but the employee cannot file a lawsuit against the employer. This is generally thought of as a good thing, because it means that employees who are hurt at work typically do not have to file a lawsuit with the time and cost that entails in order to get benefits.  Lawsuits are tough, and in order to get paid under a personal injury claim, the injured person has to prove that someone else was negligent and responsible for the injury. That’s a problem for two reasons.

 

First, not all injuries at work ARE caused by someone else. Often they are just bad luck, or might even be due to the employee’s own mistake.  Under workers’ compensation, these injuries are covered regardless of whose fault it is or if there is any fault.  As long as the injury is work related, it is covered, and that is a tremendous benefit. Second, personal injury cases can take years. In the meantime, the injured person might not be able to work, and the medical bills will continue to stream in.  In a personal injury claim (for an injury that happens outside of work), there is no built in coverage to help pay medical bills or to cover the lost wages that occur while the lawsuit is going on.  If the injured person doesn’t have health insurance, they are in a difficult place, as they can’t force the other person to pay for those bills until they can prove their case and show the other person was at fault. Similarly, lost wages are not paid as they occur, but only after settlement or a favorable judgment in court.  Last but not least, there is no guarantee of job protection for a person who is out of work for an extended time during the pendency of a personal injury law suit. 

As a result, people with serious injuries that occur outside of work have to hope they can prove someone else was liable, but they also have to figure out how to hold on financially while the lawsuit is pending.  This can be a huge stress, as the courts are backed up and this process can take time.

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October is a busy Month- here's the update!

Its been a busy month at Rice Law Office with speaking engagements, a busy litigation calendar and radio spot with WEMJ. 

Attorney Rice had the honor of being invited to speak at the State NEA teachers' fall convention earlier this month, followed by a presentation for the New Hampshire Bar Association the next Friday, where she spoke about employment litigation from the Plaintiff's point of view.  She was joined by a panel of employment attorneys from both sides of the table, representing the issues most important to employers and employees alike.  The month was capped off with a guest spot @WEMJ1490 radio for open mic with Pat Kelly, where Anne and Pat talked about the ins and outs of employment law basics, here in New Hampshire. 

At the NH bar seminar Anne talked about the intake process and how critical it is to choose cases carefully and then to consider what is best for the client as the driving force for moving forward. Trial attorneys love to litigate, its what we do, but for most "normal" people the process can be stressful, expensive and time consuming.  There are alternative routes to resolution and good counsel should talk to clients about different ways to get the best outcome, with the least time, stress and cost. We should talk to clients about all the remedies available, including disability insurance, retirement, social security, worker's compensation as well as options for litigation like, claims for wrongful termination, discrimination, or wage violations and the like. 

Each type of claim has its pros and cons.  Some take longer, some are harder to prove and some have greater or lesser remedies available.  A claim for discrimination or wrongful termination can take years to bring for example, but disability insurance, unemployment or worker's compensation may provide a faster source of income to tide an employee over in the meantime.   Employees need to know how they will pay their mortgage and keep help insurance pending litigation, but law suits take time!  As employment attorneys we need to help sustain our clients as they await justice by providing information, resources and other options for help.

It starts with listening.  It's important to listen to clients to help them determine which choice might be best.  Employees who are hurt at work, treated poorly or fired, often feel like they have lost all control.  Their world is turned upside down when their job is at risk.  The truth is, our jobs define our schedule, our security and sometimes who we are.  When a job is threatened or pulled out from underneath us, it is frightening and it affects every aspect of our lives and the lives of our family. 

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BEWARE: IRS PHONE SCAM

There is a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country and it is targeting NH residents as well. 

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. These scammers may even have caller ID numbers that appear to be from the IRS, the court or the police Deprtment and their tactics are aggressive.

Don't fall prey to this scam. 

Here's what you need to know:

The IRS does not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel.“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.”

People should know that according to the IRS, the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail and not the phone.

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In Wake of Scandal VA Chief Out

IN WAKE OF SCANDAL VA CHIEF OUT Today President Obama accepted the resignation of Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Eric Shinseki, after the scandal generated by a report releases this Wednesday.  The report indicated that the Phoenix Veteran Affairs Health Care System manipulated scheduling and broke department policy to conceal delays in medical care.  Worse, in the fall out from the report it became clear that the problem was not isolated to Phoenix, but was systemic and wide-spread. The VA Inspector General found that 1,700 veterans waiting to see doctors were either never scheduled for an appointment or placed on a wait list.  Worse, at least 40 veterans died while waiting to receive medical care from Phoenix VA hospitals.  CNN also reported that VA facilities in Wyoming were instructed to “game the system” so that the clinic appeared to be running more efficiently.  The depth and breadth of the issue launched it to the forefront of national news, ultimately leading to Secretary Shinseki’s resignation today following his address to Congress. Shinseki’s resignation comes in the wake of calls from both leading Democrats and Republicans for his ouster, and raises questions about what direction the beleaguered agency will head under new leadership.  Today’s outcome was far from a surprise for many expert observers- President Obama had previously indicated that he would demand accountability if problems were uncovered in the investigative process.  On Secretary Shinseki’s resignation, President Obama said, “he’s good person who’s done exemplary work on our behalf,” but concluded that “he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction himself.”  What these next stages of reform will be, and how they will address the issues plaguing the VA, remains unclear. For more information about veteran’s disability and eligibility for social security visit our website.
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Thank You for Giving Back!

Rice Law Office and its team of walkers and runners braved the early morning rain to bring attention to the quest for the cure at the Tanger walk/run for the cure, held on September 22nd.  With nearly 40 participants, Rice Law Office was able to make a meaningful contribution to LRGH healthcare in support of breast cancer for every member of the team while enjoying the company of an amazing group of friends and family!  Thank you for joining us to bring funds and awareness to this important cause.  Check out our photos, they're sure to make you smile!  

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