Monthly Archives: August 2012

Clint Eastwood And The American Worker

Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republican National Convention

Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republican National Convention

Actor Clint Eastwood gave a speech on August 30, 2012 at the Republican National Convention that will not be forgotten any time soon. After going off script and speaking to an empty chair, representing a missing President Obama, he said the President “was crazy.” I’m not sure that was in his prepared text, but that’s what happens when you take a three minute speech and drag it out to fifteen. Mr. Eastwood is a former businessman and, according to Republican nominee Mitt Romney, that is an essential qualification for President. So maybe that’s why Eastwood was given such a prominent role before Romney spoke.

What kind of corporate man was Eastwood when he owned his restaurant, “Hog’s Breath Inn,” in Carmel, California, when he was mayor? How did he treat his workers and what did he think about unions? It turns out Eastwood hired Martin Jay Levitt, the notorious private consultant who wrote a book in 1993 called “Confessions of a Union Buster.” Levitt described some of his tactics:

  • reviewing medical records for damaging information on employees;
  • discrediting managers who were sympathetic to unions;
  • fighting against minimum wage laws;
  • sending out junk science articles, some of which had data “I just made up;”
  • creating distorted double-speak to confuse the issues;
  • creating lobbying groups with massive amounts of money and All-American names;
  • bargaining in bad faith;
  • stirring up racism; and
  • ignoring safety of workers.

After he woke up in an alcoholic rehab center, post divorce and bankruptcy, Levitt realized the shame of what he had done and wrote his book.

I doubt Clint Eastwood ever read Martin Levitt’s book, and, after hearing Eastwood’s speech, I have no doubt he would hire men like Levitt again and bash unions, working people who are injured, and anyone else who dared defend the rights of working people. Was the Romney-Ryan campaign sending America a message when they put Eastwood on the stage in prime time? Time will tell.

The Very Real Dangers Of Worry (Part 1)

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm.

Worry is increasingly pervasive in our society as insecurity about the economy and safety, nationally and personally, grows daily. Worry is compounded in the daily lives of those who are injured or disabled, as they struggle with the added burdens of medical costs and loss of income, all of which engenders a bleak outlook on their future.

“At its worst, [toxic] worry is a relentless scavenger roaming the corners of your mind, feeding on anything, never leaving you alone.” This was the description of “worry” by Edward M. Hallowell, MD, in Worry, 1997, with a 2002 introduction. (This study is still considered the “bible” in lay literature and often quoted in scientific research.) Long ago, Dr. Charles Mayo said, “Worry affects circulation, the glands, the whole nervous system and profoundly affects the heart.” Indeed, worry appears to be, at worst, of genetic origins, and to a lesser degree a learned or environmental response.

Hallowell defines worry as two types: toxic worry and good worry. He likens toxic worry to a virus, insidiously and invisibly attacking you and robbing you of your ability to work, your peace of mind and happiness, your love and play. On the other hand, good worry, or adaptive worry, is necessary to avoid real danger and life-threatening situations.

Worry is categorized as part of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in most lay and scientific literature. The National Institute of Mental Illness (NIMH) defines GAD as people who go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little to provoke it. NIMH literature states that people with GAD anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems or difficulties at work. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about everyday problems for at least six months. Worry, as part of GAD, is commonly treated with medication and cognitive therapy.

The everyday worry of the disabled or injured worker is direct, with anxiety and fear over money, physical abilities, medical care, vocational options, housing, food, and family disintegration. It does prey upon so many, compounding their physical health problems and environmental lives.

For more on the very real physiological implications of worry, check in next week for the next installment in this series.

I Filed A Report And Notified My Supervisor. What Else Do I Need To Do?

Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

QUESTION: I filed an accident report at work and notified my supervisor. Do I have to do anything else?

ANSWER: YES! The C-3 claim must still be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Board by the injured worker.

Right before going on a cruise with his lovely wife for their 25th wedding anniversary, Joe got a pretty bad gash on his arm while fixing a pipe at work. The ER fixed him up quickly and when Joe got back to the office, he filed an accident report and then notified his supervisor, Mike in writing. Mike stuck his head out of the office and told Joe he would take care of the rest and to “get the hell out of here and enjoy that cruise!” Thinking he had covered all his bases to receive Workers’ Compensation, Joe gathered up his work gear and headed out to sail the next day to the Caribbean. Stop, Joe! Stop!!

When a worker is injured HE or SHE must file a C-3 Claim with the Workers’ Compensation Board.

It is the worker’s obligation to file this claim, NOT Continue reading

Private Investigators in Workers’ Compensation

photographer-349871_1280As a workers’ compensation attorney I find it interesting that many people in the public question the disability status of injured workers. Let’s assume for the moment that you have sustained an injury on the job and you’ve been out of work for 5 months after back surgery. When you are unable to return to work quickly, the insurance industry has a lot of tools at its disposal to verify your disability status. They can pour over your medical records, pre- and post-injury, looking for any piece of evidence to deny your claim. They can send your file to lawyers who review medical records and recorded statements to potentially attack your credibility and honesty. They can hire a nurse to attend your appointments and speak with the physician and the staff, as well as obtain information directly from you. They can do background searches on you to see if you have a criminal or civil record. Obviously they will check to see if you ever filed a workers’ compensation claim before. They will also do social media and Internet searches on you and your family members (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). They also can hire private investigators to follow you and your family around and take video recordings of your activities. With all these resources at the disposal of the insurance company, it’s hard to believe that many cases of employee fraud slip through the system.

We have one client recently who was followed by several private detectives for more than a year. They not only followed him around, but also followed his wife and son, who have no workers’ compensation claim. Another client had to sell his house because of his disability. A private investigator pretended to be a potential buyer and spent an hour or more going through the house. Does the concept of “Big Brother” come to mind? Are you concerned about invasion of privacy, particularly for family members, friends, and others who may be seen in such videos? We always tell our clients such activity may occur so don’t be alarmed by it, but that isn’t too comforting to people who are struggling through health issues, who have depression and anxiety problems, and who are sensitive to privacy concerns.

It would be interesting if the roles were reversed and employers who underpay premiums by misclassifying the status of their employees, who fail to purchase insurance required to protect their workers, and who don’t follow proper safety regulations that cause injury, were followed this closely by employees or regulators who administer the workers’ compensation program. I have no doubt that these employers and insurance representatives would be outraged.

 

 

Can I Collect Social Security, A Pension AND Workers' Comp?

Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

QUESTION: IF I AM GETTING SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSD) AS WELL AS A PENSION DOES THAT MEAN I CANNOT GET WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AS WELL?

ANSWER: YOU CAN GET STILL GET WORKERS’ COMPENSATION WHEN YOU ARE RECEIVING A PENSION AND SSD.

At 55, Joe was a walking museum of every accident he had ever had in his 30 years of working the job. That last accident put him out of work for almost two years. Luckily, he filed all the paperwork, submitted all the forms, crossed all his ‘Ts’ and received Social Security Disability (SSD).

But after three decades of hard work, Joe had had enough and so he started the paperwork to retire. But he was worried. He had planned on applying for Workers’ Compensation, but he wasn’t sure he’d could since he was already on SSD and about to receive his pension. What should he do?

File, Joe! File!! The combination of Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability and a pension is called the Trifecta, a Triple Crown of benefits, so to speak. Continue reading

Monday Workers’ Compensation Q&A: My employer paid my salary, do I still have to file a claim?

Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

QUESTION: MY EMPLOYER PAID MY SALARY WHILE I WAS INJURED AND OUT OF WORK. DO I STILL HAVE TO FILE A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM?

ANSWER: THERE IS MORE TO A CLAIM THEN PAYMENT WHILE OUT OF WORK ?

Joe’s boss, Mike was a great guy. In fact, when Joe got badly hurt at work and was out for weeks, Mike paid Joe’s salary every week. When Joe got back to work, he hesitated filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim. After all, Mike had paid his salary the weeks he was out. And Joe didn’t want to appear ungrateful or greedy. What should he do?

File, Joe!! File!!!

If Mike drew Joe’s salary paid from Joe’s accrued sick or vacation time, Joe would not get that time back unless he filed a claim. That means the eight weeks of vacation and sick time Joe had coming to him had been put toward the time he spent recuperating at home. Unless Joe submitted a claim, he’d have to start from scratch to build up vacation and sick time.

“Aside from the monetary award, there is lifetime medical coverage for a Workers’ Compensation Claim.”

The payment of wages is only a small portion of a Workers’ Compensation Claim and NOT the only thing Joe is entitled to. In an earlier column, an injured worker can make a claim for a schedule loss of use if an extremity is injured even if salary was paid.

More importantly, Continue reading

Do I Need To Report My Accident Within 24 Hours?

Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

QUESTION: I DID NOT TELL MY BOSS WITHIN 24 HOURS ABOUT THE ACCIDENT I HAD AT WORK. DOES THIS MEAN I CANNOT COLLECT WORKERS COMP?

ANSWER: THERE IS NO 24-HOUR REPORTING REQUIREMENT UNDER THE COMPENSATION LAW

Joe was working on one of the old boilers at the old Jefferson High School when he tripped over a wrench. Banged up his knee pretty bad. After the ER visit, the X-rays, the knee brace, and the really good painkillers, Joe went back to work intending to let his boss know of his injury and to file Workers Comp paperwork. But one thing led to another and it wasn’t until three days later that Joe remembered he hadn’t told his boss or had filed any paperwork. Joe panicked.

Wasn’t there a rule that in order to file a Workers Comp claim, you had to have told your boss within 24 hours of the accident? That ER bill was steep and paying out of pocket would really blow his already-stretched paycheck. Joe was so pissed he would have kicked the wall if his knee didn’t hurt so much.

Don’t give up, Joe! File, Joe!! File!!

An injured worker does not have to notify his or her employer within 24 hours to collect benefits under the Workers Compensation Law. He or she may have to notify an employer within 24 hours to make sure they are entitled to certain benefits from the employer or their union. BUT the Compensation Law is different. It requires that notice of the injury be provided within 30 day of the accident. This notice can be provided orally or in writing. Keep in mind it is ALWAYS better to Continue reading

Semper Fi – Marines Exposed to Chemicals at Camp LeJeune, NC

 Congressman Brad Miller (D-NC), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Jerry Ensminger, the Marine who watched his nine year old daughter die of leukemia in 1985, spoke in Raleigh, NC recently and introduced a heart wrenching documentary, Semper Fi, about  toxic chemicals that were in the drinking water between 1957-1987 at the U.S Marine Corps Base in Camp LeJeune, NC, the largest military base on the East coast. Benzene, vinyl chloride and trichloroethylene (TCE), three known human carcinogens, in addition to perchloroethylene (PCE), a probable carcinogen, have been linked to the water that people on the base drank and bathed in. It is eatimated that between 750,000 and 1,000,000 people were exposed, with devasting consequences: birth defects, leukemia, liver damage, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer and many other illnesses.  Male breast cancer has shown up in over 80 men who were on this base, and the odds against that happening are staggering.

 This discovery was a shock to Jerry Ensminger, a career Marine who trained soldiers at Camp LeJeune. He started to connect the dots and went on a fifteen year non-stop effort to find the truth about what his daughter was exposed to, and he wanted to identify others who may have developed illnesses related to water contamination at this site. Unfortunately, the Marines and the Defense Department fought him every step of the way. Semper Fi is an award winning documentary about his struggle.

The good news is that Congress passed, and President Obama has now signed into law, a bill that establishes benefits under the Veterans Administration for any veteran and family members who were on this military base for 30 days or more between 1957-1987. For more information, go to www.semperfialwaysfaithful.com.

The theatrical trailer for the movie is below: