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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.

What Damages Am I Entitled to Recover if I’m Injured in a Car Accident?

If you were injured in an automobile accident which was not your fault, you may be entitled to payment for your medical bills, damage to your vehicle, pain and suffering, lost wages, permanent injuries, and for other expenses incurred as a result of your injury. But that's only half the story. Usually, victims of car accidents leading to serious physical injuries also have significant lost time from work that puts wages, benefits, and job security at risk.

If you've been seriously injured in an automobile accident which results in lost time from work, medical bills, or lasting injury, you will want to immediately consult with an attorney who is experienced in BOTH injury and employment law to ensure you get the most protection available. An experienced injury/employment attorney will consider all the resources available to address your injury, but also to help you with your loss of income during the healing process. 

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Gender and Marital Status Discrimination is Alive and Well in the World of Hiring

I recently read an article on LinkedIn by a recruiter, Bruce Hurwitz, entitled "When interviewing for a job, lose the ring!"

From his bio, he is clearly a well respected leader in his field and his article caught my eye first because it touched on my areas of practice in plaintiff employment law, but it also struck me in a more personal way.  I’ve linked his article so you can read it for yourself, but for me, as a married working woman and a mom to three optimistic initiates to the workforce, it was sad to hear this kind of advice being given to people starting out, so I’d like to offer another perspective. 

You see, when I graduated from law school, this was common advice-- which I promptly ignored. Not only were we, as future female attorneys, told to take off our wedding rings for the interviewing process, but I had some friends who were actually told to start this practice well before the interviewing season, in order to avoid a ring tan line. Yes, seriously. None of our male classmates were giving this advice. In fact, I suspect if they had asked, the advice would have been to the contrary. Most likely, where gender stereotypes prevail, wearing a ring might be considered a positive thing for a young male. 

Let's face it, this advice was entirely based on prominent stereotypes about gender, marital status, and the assumed impact of these things on performance in the workplace. The assumption was engaged or married females would somehow be less committed, productive or dedicated to their job. Likewise, married male attorneys would benefit from this institution, creating greater stability and a desire to earn more to support their growing family. The assumption was that marriage meant babies, distraction and a decrease in quality and quantity of legal output when it came to women. By comparison, no one considered that fathers might choose to take time off or seek the dreaded "balance" in their work and family life. Instead, there was a bold assumption that men would work on, without distraction when and if babies came into the picture.

Back then, I took the truth of this advice for granted. I assumed that many if not most of the firms with which I interviewed, would judge me in some manner, probably to the negative, if I were to interview wearing my wedding band. (I will note, no one ever mentioned the size of the "rock" as also being intimidating to women or potentially belittling to my character even back then). While I acknowledged the fact of prejudice, I was not willing to hide my truth to avoid the consequence of it. Perhaps I was naive (I was), but despite being young and unsure of myself in many ways, I was clear about one thing; I didn't want to work for a firm that would hire me (or not hire me) on the basis of my marital status. I chose to marry, I had the right to marry (as many did not back then) and I was happy with my choice. 

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Five Things You Can Do If You Think You Have Been The Victim of Pay Discrimination On The Basis of Your Gender

1) Try to resolve the situation informally by meeting with your supervisor to discuss your concern.

Of course, this only works if the person that you believe is responsible for the discrimination is not your supervisor. If the person treating you unfairly is your supervisor, you might try contacting a human resource staff person or whomever is designated in your employee handbook to address workplace issues.

It's a great idea to review your employee handbook policies on discrimination before you undertake this step.  Further, if you are a member of the union, you will want to consult with your union representative. If the informal approach is inappropriate for your circumstances, you may want to consider more formal steps to resolve the situation, such as filing a discrimination charge.

2) Educate yourself about your rights 

Get educated about the laws and policies that impact your wage rights. You can visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website which enforces the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You might also want to visit the federal, or your state Department of Labor website, or contact an attorney who provides free consultations.  

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Five Things Every Employee Should Know

Five Things Every Employee Should Know

1) Men and women must be paid equal wages if they perform substantially the same work under the Equal Pay Act.  

"Equal pay" refers to more than just your paycheck. Under this law, all employers must provide "equal pay" including: equal salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit-sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay, cleaning or gasoline allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses and benefits.

2) Your employer cannot discriminate against you on the basis of your race, color, religion, sex or national origin in any terms or conditions of your employment, including compensation hours and benefits. 

 Under title VII of the civil rights act of 1964, any employer with at least 15 workers is required to provide equal employment opportunity. This means employers are prohibited from offering different pay for individuals doing the same or similar job or from employing other practices which would result in discrimination on the basis of a protected class such as denying promotions or taking other actions which would unfairly impacted employees' pay, work conditions or job security.

Under New Hampshire's discrimination law, RSA 354 – A the list of employees covered under the law is expanded to include a prohibition of discrimination on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation and pregnancy.

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NH Pushes For Lower Medical Bills With New Law For Those Without Health Insurance

House Bill 1316 was signed by Governor Hassan on May 27, 2016 to be effective July 26th 2016. This bill will require hospital’s to limit the amount they charge to “self pay” patients to the same rate they generally receive from health carriers. For those who self pay for medical treatment this is important news as some providers were billing for services at a higher rate than the amount they accepted from the insurance companies with whom providers have contractual discounts. Now, the same discounted price afforded to the big insurance companies will be passed on to the private payer.

The one exception is for those who self pay, but have another form of insurance available such as med pay, or other liability coverage. These people can still be charged at a higher rate. This may result in providers having to determine if the self pay patient has other available coverage at the time of service and open up a can of worms. Does an individual have “liability coverage” if the claim has been denied and is in litigation? Also, this will require that patients understand what Med Pay is and many do not.

This looks like a good step forward in offering fair billing to those without health insurance, but it looks like there is more work to be done. We will need to keep our eye on this! Here is the language of the bill in its final form: 139:1 Hospital Rates for Self-Pay Patients. Amend RSA 151:12-b to read as follows:1. 151:12-b Hospital Rates for Self-Pay Patients. When billing self-pay patients for a service rendered, a hospital shall accept as payment in full an amount no greater than the amount generally billed and received by the hospital for that service for patients covered by health insurance. A hospital shall determine the amount generally billed to health carriers in a manner consistent with Section 9007 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009. A hospital shall provide written notice to a self-pay patient in advance of providing a service and at the time the service is billed regarding the requirements under this section. For the purposes of this section "hospital'' means an institution which is engaged in providing to patients, under supervision of physicians, diagnostic and therapeutic services for medical diagnosis, treatment, and care of injured, disabled, or sick persons, or rehabilitation services for the rehabilitation of such persons. The term "hospital'' includes psychiatric and substance abuse treatment hospitals. In this section, "self-pay" means a patient seeking care at a hospital who does not have any form of insurance, including, but not limited to, health insurance, MedPay coverage, or any other liability coverage. 139:2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage. Approved: May 27, 2016Effective Date: July 26, 2016

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NH Pushes For Lower Medical Bills With New Law For Those Without Health Insurance

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National Homeownership Month

National Homeownership Month

In 2002, June was declared National Homeownership Month by President George W. Bush, building upon the focus given to home ownership by the Clinton Administration beginning in 1995. The pride in homeownership here in the US, however, runs deeper than the last two decades. The ability to own your own home, if you work hard, is central to the American Dream. President Clinton began his campaign to extend homeownership in the US month 20 years ago—as we hit the halfway point in this year’s National Homeownership Month what is the state of progress in building American home ownership?

Today, homeownership in the US sits at the lowest rate since 1989. The homeownership rate fell to 63.8% in the first quarter of 2015, and has declined steadily since peaking at 69.2% in 2005. Much of the decline can be attributed to fallout from the 2008 financial crisis, and the housing bubble which helped drive the financial collapse. Americans have been cautious since then, and many families are only now recovering enough to consider buying a home.

There are, however, reasons to think that homeownership is poised to make a comeback. There are nearly 2 million more renter households than there were this time last year, and eventually, some of these renters are likely to become homeowners. Renting is often the first step towards homeownership. Vacancy rates for both rental apartments and owner occupied homes also fell from last year.

Progress has been slow, and while a huge turnaround is not likely around the corner, the future for American home owners should be bright. When President Bush first established National Homeownership Month in 2002 he said “where homeownership flourishes, neighborhoods are more stable, residents are more civic-minded, schools are better, and crime rates decline.” This is still true today.

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Tips for Renting Your Vacation Home

Tips for Renting Your Vacation Home

Renting your second home can provide significant income, and the opportunity to earn rental income plays a part in most decisions to purchase a vacation home. Average vacation home rentals earn nearly $30,000 annually, which is a lot, but renting out your vacation home isn’t always easy. Here are a few tips for making the process as smooth (and lucrative) as possible.

Know the costs.  Know the rental rates, and compare that to your monthly mortgage.  Include estimated costs for marketing, cleaning, repairs, and maintenance.  Make sure it will be a profitable venture, as that’s the point!Know how much time you’re willing to spend.  Be prepared to spend a lot of time managing the property if you don’t want to use a full service management company.  Management companies charge a premium (often 20%), but it saves you a lot of time and headaches.  Understand that if you do it yourself you have marketing, inquiries, booking, and housekeeping to manage.Pay for marketing.  It’s a chunk of money (often upwards of $1000) but it pays in returns. Especially in areas where many vacation homes may be available think about how your home will stand out. Your rental home won’t earn you any income if nobody knows its available!Know your tenants, and be specific about your guidelines.  You may want to set some ground rules, like a minimum age requirement, maximum number of people allowed, and rules regarding pets. Having this clearly laid out will head off concerns here before they arise.  Its also often worth doing a credit and criminal check on your renters.Be prepared to deal with accidents.  Even with the most responsible tenants its best to assume some damage will occur. Requiring security deposits is one way to mitigate this risk. You may also want an insurance policy that covers damage caused by renters.  If your current policy doesn’t cover renter damages, you may want to switch.Create a guest-host dynamic.  Its much more productive then landlord-tenant, and your renters will like you more, give a better review, and treat your home better.

If you’re interested in renting your home for some additional income, you may want to reach out to an attorney to make sure you’re maximizing your return and minimizing your risk!

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia user Mark Crawley under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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Youth Employment FAQ

Youth Employment FAQ

Over the course of the summer many young people will seek out part time or seasonal employment, and businesses welcome the added labor during the busy holiday seasons. There are, however, additional regulations and rules that determine how people under the age of 18 can be employed.

To help employers and young people seeking work understand these guidelines and regulations, the New Hampshire Department of Labor publishes a list of frequently asked questions around youth employment. That list can be found on the NH DOL website here, however we have also included the questions and answers below.

When is the NH Youth Employment Certificate, also known as "Working Papers," required?

The Youth Employment Certificate is required for any youth 12 to 15 years old and must be on file at the employer's place of business within three business days of the first day of employment. Employers are required to have on file at the work place, at the time employment begins, written permission by the parent or guardian of a 16 or 17 year old permitting the youth's employment (RSA 276-A:4).

Do youths under the age of 18 need to have a NH Youth Employment Certificate?

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Movement on Equal Pay and the Gender Gap

Movement on Equal Pay and the Gender Gap

Today, female workers earn more than 20 cents less on every dollar of income as compared to male counterparts performing similar work. This pay gap has proven persistent despite previous policy efforts to bring gender equity to the pay scale. But, recent legislative action in California and Ohio as well as at the federal level has the potential to close the pay gap between men and women in the U.S. workforce.

The U.S. already has federal legislation, the Equal Pay Act, in place to prevent against gender based wage discrimination. While the Equal Pay Act does provide protections for workers seeking equal wages, many feel that we need to go further given the continued gap. The pending Paycheck Fairness Act could be passed this year, and would strengthen protections provided under the Equal Pay Act.

Ohio currently has a bill pending, House Bill 330, which would provide these types of protections. If passed, state and local governments would be required to determine the value of comparable work across job categories. The law in Ohio would also require companies receiving state contracts or receiving state funds to meet an even higher standard along with providing protections for employees against retaliation for discussing or sharing salary information.

California’s new Fair Pay Act may be the most expansive fair pay law in the country, and has the potential to set a new standard for other states considering this type of action. Women across the country want be paid at the same rate for the same work as their male peers, and employees and employers alike should be aware of their obligations when it comes to gender equal pay.

 Photo courtesy of Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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NH Chief Justice Tina Nadeau Champions Drug Court System

NH Chief Justice Tina Nadeau Champions Drug Court System

New Hampshire is currently considering legislation that would expand the “drug court” system, which proponents say are more effective in reducing crime and fighting addiction. The drug courts offer an alternative to incarceration for high-risk drug offenders by providing a program with treatment, accountability, and supervision.

Tina Nadeau, chief justice of the New Hampshire superior courts, has come out as a strong and vocal advocate for the drug court system. Judge Nadeau has pointed towards evidence that drug courts reduce crime and save money by providing an alternative to expensive incarceration. The issue is particularly pressing given the current opioid epidemic facing the state.

New Hampshire currently has six drug courts, but is looking to increase this number to eleven. In 2007, Texas enacted a drug court system that led to reductions in parole violations and crime rates while saving the state billions in prison costs. Judge Nadeau cited the example, and said “if Texas can do it, we can do it.”

New Hampshire needs to confront its drug abuse problem head on, and this means honestly addressing the problem in ways that will lead to positive results. Rather than jailing drug abusers, we need to help them find treatment—it’s cheaper and more effective. Judge Nadeau’s bold stance in support of drug courts is one we should all support.

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Injured Workers Should be Wary of Opioid Prescriptions

Injured Workers Should be Wary of Opioid Prescriptions

New Hampshire is currently in the midst of an opioid epidemic, and the problem can be traced in part to high rates of prescription for opioid painkillers. New Hampshire ranks third in the country in terms of prescription rate for high-dose and long-acting opioid pain relievers according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There has been a great deal of effort expended on reducing unnecessary opioid prescriptions across the country and more particularly in NH. This June, Senator Kelly Ayotte co-sponsored a law that would create a “Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force”. At the state level, New Hampshire established a prescription drug monitoring program in 2012 that is still in the implementation process.

Patients can be their best first defense against prescription drug addiction by being informed, asking doctors if there is an alternative to narcotic pain medication and understanding whether the dosing is optional or required. Patients often think they have to take the meds as prescribed, but if they asked, they would find many narcotic prescriptions are only by choice and need not be taken as often or for as long as the bottle says.

New medical studies are showing that the body may actually become acclimated to narcotic medications, leading to increased sensitivity in pain receptors and a greater reliance on medication for pain management. Many studies show that alternate pain management treatments are as effective as opioids without the risk of addiction. Each case is unique, but patients should be proactive in understanding the treatment they are receiving. 

It’s important to listen to your doctor, but if you’re being prescribed high-dose opioids for pain relief you need to be informed and engaged in determining if this is the best course of treatment. Ask about dosage, risks, and alternatives to be sure you are receiving the best care.

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U.S. Military Mishandling Mental Illness

U.S. Military Mishandling Mental Illness

Is the U.S. military in the dark ages when it comes to the treatment of mental health illnesses among its veterans? Some critics would say yes based on its recent discharge rates of veterans suffering from mental health disorders for alleged “misconduct”.

Since 2009 the U.S. military has discharged over 22,000 soldiers for misconduct when in fact, they may have only been displaying expected symptoms caused by their military service and injury.

These dismissals come despite a law passed in 2009 requiring that the military consider carefully whether the misconduct leading to discipline was a manifestation of a service related injury such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Further, this is happening despite the devastating impact which this kind of dismissal has on veterans. Dismissal for misconduct results in the loss of health and retirement benefits and can make it very difficult for these veterans to find future employment.

The irony is that these are the very soldiers who are most in need of these benefits. Instead of giving them the care and support they need in the wake of their service and injury, the military is abandoning them according to an NPR story titled Missed Treatment and released in October of 2015. The NPR piece examined the military’s treatment of veterans suffering from mental health conditions and found that despite the 2009 law, dismissals of these veterans for “misconduct” are still widespread. 

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Top Tips and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Layoffs and Severance

Top Tips and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Layoffs and Severance

As the end of one year wraps up and a new one approaches, employers and employees alike often find themselves setting new goals for the new year. For employers looking to tighten their belts and increase profit, this sometimes means a decision to reduce or reorganize the workforce.  Some employers try to ease the shock (and reduce their risk of lawsuit) by offering employees a severance package in exchange for a release of all claims. These offers can be just the bridge and employee needs to make it to their next job or a Trojan horse offering a shiny package with very little value.

It can be frightening if you're the one caught in this tide of change, but you're not alone. Take a deep breath and consider getting a consultation with an experienced employment attorney- a few hundred dollars could save you thousands in the long run. Here are a few tips to get you started:

The First thing you need to know: Employees in New Hampshire are not automatically entitled to severance in the event of a reduction in force or layoff. 

That said, where employers establish a severance program voluntarily, it may become a right in accordance with the union collective-bargaining agreement or under ERISA, a federal law governing employee benefits. Therefore, if you've been selected for a layoff, you will want to ask your HR representative if the company offers a severance package.

Second, employers rarely offer severance without asking for something in return. 

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Survey Shows Prescription Drug Costs Up

Survey Shows Prescription Drug Costs Up

At the end of 2015, the 12th Annual Survey of Prescription Drug Management in Workers’ Comp, which tracks pharmacy costs for workers’ compensation, was released. The study showed that drug costs increased more than 6 percent compared to 2014.

This increase in drug costs is thought to be due to the increased price of medication but also due to the dramatic increase in the amount of prescriptions being written, particularly for opioids. In 2012, total spending on opioids in the US was just over $8 billion, and workers’ compensation paid for about 17 percent of that total.

That figure has grown dramatically and New Hampshire has one of the highest per capita rates of opioid prescription in the country. Not surprisingly, NH has one of the highest rates of addiction in the country. Last year more than 300 people died from drug related causes in New Hampshire, with the vast majority of those deaths stemming from opioid abuse.

The opioid epidemic in New Hampshire is very much in the spotlight, and this post will be the first in a series examining prescription drug addiction, strategies for managing prescriptions, and new legal approaches to combatting addiction.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Chris Potter under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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New Hampshire jury awards over $31 million to former Walmart employee claiming discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation

New Hampshire jury awards over $31 million to former Walmart employee claiming discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliation
A New Hampshire jury has awarded more than $31 million in damages to a former Walmart pharmacist who claimed she was wrongfully terminated on the basis of her gender and after reporting concerns about unsafe pharmacy conditions.  Maureen McPadden had been been employed by Walmart for 13 years when she was fired in 2012, supposedly for losing a key.  Walmart claimed neither her gender nor the concerns which she had raised about her store's pharmacy played a role in McPadden's dismissal.  According to Randy Hargrove, director of media relations out of the box store giant's headquarters in Bentonville Arkansas, McPadden was allegedly fired as a result of her performance including an incident in which she lost her pharmacy key. Despite Walmart's retail prowess, the jury didn't buy the story it was selling and awarded McPadden back wages, future Pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages in amount over $31 million dollars.   The jury found that Walmart had wrongfully terminated McPadden and discriminated against her on the basis of her gender.  In support of McPadden's claim, she presented evidence that the lost key was just an excuse to fire her after she blew the whistle on unsay pharmacy conditions. Her lawyers presented evidence to the jury that a male pharmacist at a Walmart nearby in Plaistow, New Hampshire had lost his pharmacy key not long after McPadden, but unlike the female whistle blower McPadden, he was not fired. Of the victory McPadden said "the conditions in the pharmacy were not safe. It was really in my soul to do something about it." Certainly Walmart which claims it does not tolerate discrimination of any type will challenge the jury's decision. Indeed Hargrove has indicated that Walmart will ask the court to set aside the verdict or reduce the damages. At a minimum it's likely that the punitive damages under the federal gender discrimination law, Title VII will be reduced from the 15 million awarded by the jury. Title VII has a cap on punitive damages in the amount of $300,000. Still, the jury's message was loud and clear and Mcpadden's victory is a victory for employees everywhere who are treated unfairly and intimidated by powerful employers.  By all counts this battle was hard fought and there must have been moments of doubt, but McPadden and her team never gave up and the results will hopefully transform not just McPadden's life, but all the others who will now dare to speak up to discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.  Photo courtesy of MikeMozartJeepersMedia under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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No COLA Adjustment for Social Security in 2016

No COLA Adjustment for Social Security in 2016

For 2016, there will be no cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security and SSI benefit rates. This means that the government has determined that the cost-of-living has not risen since last year, and benefits will hold steady until the review next year. 

Each year the government assesses cost-of-living around the country through a Consumer Price Index – which measures changes in the price levels of essential goods and services around the country – and then adjusts benefits accordingly. If the cost-of-living goes up, the government must increase Social Security and SSI benefits.

While everyone enjoys seeing an increase in his or her benefits, the good news is that the average cost-of-living has not risen this year. Without an adjustment to cost-of-living, retirement earnings, exempt amounts and the maximum earnings subject to social security tax will also hold steady.

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Office Betting Season is Upon Us

Office Betting Season is Upon Us

With the NFL’s conference championship games this weekend, many Americans will be laying small bets between friends, family, and co-workers. While certain sporting events are ingrained into the very fabric of national culture, the unofficial betting around these events is mostly illegal.

One common phenomenon is the office betting pool or bracket- often a lighthearted and social activity- however it is important to consider the legal status of this practice. Despite the fact that every year billions of dollars are wagered in unofficial office pools during the Super Bowl and March Madness, your office gambling is likely illegal.

Statutes in almost every state prohibit office gambling pools, and in every state but Nevada, gambling on college sports is illegal all together. Despite the questionable legal status of these office pools, they persist across the entire country. 

Some estimates suggest that total betting on the Super Bowl last year exceeded $10 billionCollege football wagers are estimated to total over $60 billionEstimates suggest that 50 million American’s participated in March Madness office pools in 2015, with over $2.5 billion on the lineAll of this activity is dwarfed by fantasy football, which attracts over 30 milllion American’s annually, with over $10 billion changing hands each year

The common thread in all of these cases is that the vast majority of the gambling occurs outside of official venues or channels. While the office sports betting pool is a common practice, and generally thought of fondly, it is still illegal. While some states have considered legislation to allow for small-scale office betting on specific events, such as the Super Bowl or March Madness, policy change has yet to be realized. 

In the meantime, it is important to understand that these gambling rings are not yet legal. Employers who turn a blind eye to the practice expose themselves to legal repercussions, and employees should not feel pressured into participating. With specific inquiries contact Rice Law Office, PLLC for a free phone consultation at 603-528-5299 or visit our website for helpful articles and information.

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OSHA Reporting Requirements Update

OSHA Reporting Requirements Update

Beginning on January 1, 2015 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted new reporting requirements for employers under OSHA jurisdiction.  Employers are now required to report any work related fatality or injury resulting admittance to a hospital, amputation, or loss of an eye.

OSHA has received between 200 and 250 injury reports each week since the new requirements came into place.  At this rate, we can expect between 10,000 and 13,000 total reports in 2015.

OSHA has indicated that about 40 percent of these reported incidents result in on site inspections.  In 10 percent of all cases no action is taken, and in the remainder OSHA requested a letter from the employer detailing specifics of the incident and corrective actions taken.

 Not all states have implemented the new reporting requirements. If you have been hurt at work, resulting in hospitalization or time out of work, it is important to seek help from an attorney who will provide you with a free consultation and explain your rights and protections.

Image courtesy of Compliance and Safety under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Linking Mental Health and Workers' Compensation

Linking Mental Health and Workers' Compensation

There is growing recognition that mental health plays a large role in workers’ compensation, and that care extending to mental health can help people return to work more quickly. Mental health issues account for nearly a third of all new disability claims in Western countries, and are the leading cause of disability in high-income countries. 

A majority of workers pursuing a workers’ compensation claim will experience depressive symptoms within a year after their injury.  An injury that prevents an employee from going back to work also impacts their family—an injured worker’s family members are three times more likely to be hospitalized in the three months following the work injury.

There are things that you and your employer can do to reduce the risk of a mental health extending your disability.  First, its important to acknowledge that mental health is an important part of the recovery process following a work injury. There should be no stigma for workers seeking treatment if they are suffering from a mental health condition.

Employers can put in place screening processes to identify cases in which an injured worker faces an increased likelihood of a mental health condition, and facilitate access to clinical treatment.  As we understand the impact of mental health care in recovering from a work place injury there is an opportunity to improve the care injured workers receive.

If you have any questions regarding a work related injury that you have suffered you should contact an attorney to understand your rights and protections.  Rice Law Office offers free consultations-- give us a call.

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