Author Archives: Leonard Jernigan

Are Uber Drivers Getting Their Tips?

A U.S. federal judge recently ruled that a ride-sharing service must face a lawsuit alleging that the company has been pocketing tips meant for the drivers (Detroit Free Press, September 19, 2014). Uber Technologies is a smartphone-summoned car service based in San Francisco that has been charging a 20% surcharge on rides. Uber was founded in 2009 and is currently in 35 countries and more than 100 cities. It is valued at $18.2 billion and is the most valued ventured-back company in the world.

Filed in January, the class-action suit alleges that Uber has been keeping a “substantial portion” of the gratuity as additional revenue rather than sharing with its drivers. This lawsuit also accuses the company of misleading customers about the true cost of its service. The complaint characterizes Uber’s practice as unfair and deceptive because Uber keeps most of the surcharge and it’s not a gratuity.

Uber, Lyft and other car-booking companies have been facing a growing number of legal challenges. In Chicago, cab drivers sued the city claiming that these smartphone-summoned services are not subject to the same regulations governing conventional taxi companies. In Connecticut, Uber and Lyft have also been accused of racketeering by taxi and livery operators who accuse the companies of preying on established businesses and cutting legal corners by partnering with affiliated drivers instead of owning cars. That way, these companies claim they are different from taxi dispatchers and shouldn’t be forced to comply with existing regulations, such as driver background checks and liability insurance.


US officials expected to announce Ebola screening at airports

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from

Federal officials are finalizing details on Ebola screening steps for travelers arriving at US airports, which may be announced in a few days and may resemble the kinds of questions that outbreak countries are asking departing passengers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said today.

The risk of another travel-linked Ebola case, such as the one in Texas, can never be reduced to zero until West Africa’s outbreak is extinguished, he said at a media telebriefing today. But he said the CDC and other government agencies are taking a hard look at additional steps, focusing on ones that won’t hamstring the response process underway overseas.

The three main outbreak countries have so far screened about 36,000 people departing on airlines, with three fourths of them bound for destinations outside the United States. The CDC has trained airport screeners in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which have flagged 77 people with fever and 3 people with other symptoms. As far as the CDC knows, none of the people with fever had Ebola, and most had malaria, a common illness in that part the world, Frieden said.

"I can assure you we will take additional steps, and the details will be worked out and announced in a few days," he added.

Senator suggests screening steps

US Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., issued a statement today saying he spoke with Frieden about tougher screening at US airports and is pleased that the CDC is preparing to…

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Workers Balk at Task Of Ebola Cleanup in Dallas

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from

Adequate safety is a major concern for health care workers treating infectious diseases. Today’s post is shared from

DALLAS — More than six months after an outbreak of Ebola began its rampage through West Africa, local and federal health officials have displayed an uneven and flawed response to the first case diagnosed in the United States.

In the latest indication, state and local authorities confirmed Thursday that a week after a Liberian man fell ill with Ebola in Dallas, and four days after he was placed in isolation at a hospital here, the apartment where he was staying with four other people had not been sanitized and the sheets and dirty towels he used while sick remained in the home. County officials visited the apartment without protection Wednesday night.

The officials said it had been difficult to find a contractor willing to enter the apartment to clean it and remove bedding and clothes, which they said had been bagged in plastic. They said they now had hired a firm that would do the work soon. The Texas health commissioner, Dr. David Lakey, told reporters during an afternoon news conference that officials had encountered “a little bit of hesitancy” in seeking a firm to clean the apartment.

The delay came amid reports that as many as 100 people could have had contact with the victim, Thomas E. Duncan. And it came a day after the hospital acknowledged it had misdiagnosed him when he first visited.

When Mr. Duncan, 42, was first…

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Watch Out for Online Fraud

AARP has advised its members to be careful as they use Internet services. For example, have you ever participated in the following online activities:

  1. Clicked on a pop-up ad?
  2. Opened an email from someone you didn’t know?
  3. Signed up for a free trial offer?
  4. Sold some merchandise in an auction?
  5. Sent funds through an Internet money transfer service?
  6. Posted your home address, phone number, vacation plans, names of children or grandkids on social media?

If so, you are more likely to be duped by a scam. AARP Washington state director Doug Shadel directed an AARP Fraud Watch Network survey of almost 12,000 Internet users to discern the differences between online fraud victims and nonvictims. According to the survey results, age does not play a factor. What does matter is engaging in the online activities above. The results also showed that victims often recently experienced a stressful event (such as a job loss or illness) and scammers target emotionally vulnerable people because it is easier to force them into making bad choices. (AARP Bulletin, March 2014)

Heat Illnesses and Workplace Safety

People who work outdoors are more likely to become dehydrated and are more likely to develop a heat-related illness. Heat stroke is the most serious type of heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. When this happens, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10-15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided information to help recognize heat stroke and administer the proper first aid. Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, confusion/dizziness and slurred speech. Take the following steps to treat a worker with heat stroke: (1) call 911 immediately; (2) move the worker to a cool, shaded environment; (3) cool the worker by soaking their clothes with water; (4) spraying/sponging/showering them with water and (5) fanning their body.

Employers should take precautions to protect their workers from heat illness. The CDC offers guildelines, including scheduling hot jobs for the cooler part of the day, acclimatizing workers by exposing them for progressively longer time periods to hot work environments and providing rest periods with water breaks. The CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provide more informational resources at   

Whistleblower Protection for Reporting Fraud? Must File OSHA Complaint within 30 Days

AARP reports that Dr. Farid Fata in Michigan has been accused of prescribing unnecessary chemotherapy treatments to his patients, including some who didn’t even have cancer. Dr. Fata’s nurse, Angela Swantek, noticed that medications were being administered improperly and patients were in the chair longer than necessary, which created more money for the doctor. Dr. Fata allegedly bilked Medicare for $91 million. Ms. Swantek was afraid of retaliation because Fata “oversees my license.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) has a Whistleblower Protection Program that protects workers from adverse action by employers (such as firing or laying off, blacklisting, demotion, denial of benefits, intimidation, threats, and/or reduction of pay or hours) for exercising their rights under OSHA. An employee has the right to file an OSHA complaint, participate in an inspection, talk to an inspector, seek access to employer exposure and injury records and raise a safety or health complaint with the employer. If your employer does discriminate or retaliate against you, you have the right to file a retaliation complaint with OSHA.

No specific form is required to file a complaint but you can: (1) send a letter to OSHA (to find the contact information for your nearest OSHA office go to; (2) call the OSHA area office located nearest to you; (3) download and send a completed Notice of Whistleblower Complaint Form to your OSHA area office (; or (4) file an online complaint ( However, your discrimination complaint must be filed with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.

Filing a Safety and Health Complaint with OSHA

One of our clients worked as an auto body repairman and he was exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace. This exposure resulted in the development of pancreatic cancer and his subsequent death, yet he never knew he could have called in OSHA to inspect his worksite.

Employees have a right to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) provides workers and their representatives the right to file a complaint and request an OSHA inspection of their workplace if they believe there is a serious risk or if their employer is not following OSHA standards. The Act allows complainants the right to request that their names be kept confidential from their employers. Although OSHA recommends that employees attempt to resolve safety and health issues by first reporting them to their work superiors, a worker can file a complaint at any time. You can get a form at

OSHA provides the following options for filing a complaint:

 (1)    Download and fax or mail the complaint form to your local OSHA office;

 (2)    File an online complaint (;

 (3)    Telephone your local OSHA area or regional office.

Written complaints that are signed by workers and submitted to their closest OSHA area office are more likely to result in an onsite OSHA inspection than complaints submitted online. North Carolina’s Raleigh office can be contacted at 4407 Bland Road, Somerset Park, Suite 210, Raleigh, North Carolina 27609 (telephone 919-790-8096; fax 919-790-8224). Contact North Carolina’s regional office at 61 Forsyth Street, SW, Room 6T50, Atlanta, Georgia 30303 (telephone 678-237-0400; fax 678-237-0447). To find other OSHA offices call 800-321-6742 or go to





Injured Workers and Poor Money Management

Workers’ compensation injuries and financial difficulties often go hand-in-hand. We had a client in his late 60s who decided to mortgage his house to pay for his grandson’s college education, but then suffered a serious workplace injury. Unfortunately, his grandson was unable to find a job and our client was about to lose his home of 30 years. He made an unwise financial decision late in life. Fortunately, we were able to obtain a lump sum settlement that avoided the disaster about to happen.

Counseling services are available to help people learn to budget and pay their bills. Credit unions, cooperative extension offices, military family service centers and religious organizations may offer services for free or at a minimal cost to qualified low-income consumers and homeowners. According to ( local non-profit agencies that provide educational programs on money management operate under the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS). Debtors should make sure the agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Generally, credit counselors look at the debtors’ overall financial situation and help them create a money management plan and a debt pay-down plan and can provide workshops related to money management. For debtors who are forthcoming about their financial situation and commit to the plan, credit counseling with a trustworthy counselor can be a positive experience. While we do not specifically endorse any financial planning group, national programs include Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, a biblically based program ( and local sources of consumer financial education include Triangle – Consumer Credit Counseling (919-821-0790) and CCCS, A Division Of Triangle Family Services, Inc. (919-821-1770).