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Lakeland Legal Issues Blog

Workers' compensation: Refusing unsafe work is not disrespectful

Workers have the right to refuse tasks that put their lives and welfare on the line. Unfortunately, many workers have grown up with the idea that refusing orders shows disrespect. In Florida and elsewhere, many workers' compensation claims could be avoided if employees did not fear reprisal should they refuse hazardous tasks.

Most workers would like to believe that their employers have their welfare in mind, only to learn that their safety often comes after production quotas, tight deadlines and other things that could affect the bottom line. Safety authorities encourage workers to report illegal, unethical and dangerous acts in the workplace, but the risk of retaliation scares many workers. It is essential to learn when a complaint is appropriate and how to go about reporting it.

Workers' compensation: Older workers need special protection

The U.S. Census Bureau has reported a significant increase in the number of workers who continue their careers beyond the age of 70. Florida employers recognize the value of their experience and knowledge, and older workers are typically more loyal and reliable. Data indicates that the percentage of seniors in the workplace is set to continue growing. Reportedly, older workers are less likely to be negligent and distracted on the job and, therefore, less likely to make mistakes that could cause injuries and lead to workers' compensation claims.

However, when they do fall victim to workplace accidents, they need more extended periods to recover. For that reason, employers need to establish protocols with the safety of older workers in mind. Although these experienced workers are not incapable of learning new skills, rapidly advancing technologies might require employers to adjust their training techniques to accommodate older workers. It might also be a good idea to allow them more practical training on new equipment.

Pregnancy remains an employment discrimination issue

The year is 2020, and one can be forgiven for believing that employment discrimination based on pregnancy is a thing of the past in Florida and elsewhere around the nation. Sadly, it is not. A woman in another state is claiming employment discrimination based on her pregnancy.

The woman, a manager at Google, became pregnant with her second child. She was told that there was concern that her impending leave would cause stress among her team, and she was denied leadership and advancement opportunities because of that. She also believed that this was in retaliation for the fact that she had previously stood up for a pregnant co-worker.

Do you know the leading cause of injury in the workplace?

When you think of workplace injuries that result in claims for workers’ compensation, what comes to mind?

Broken bones may top your list, or possibly a back or neck injury. However, the primary cause of workplace injury is overexertion. What, exactly, does this mean?

Religious employment discrimination is anathema

People in the United States are guaranteed freedom of religion and freedom from religious discrimination in the workplace. A recent situation in Florida has led to a charge of employment discrimination based on religious grounds. A school administrator is accusing the school district of a pattern of anti-Semitic discrimination in the workplace.

The administrator and principal of the school were both accused of improperly altering student grades. The principal was quickly exonerated and returned to his post. The administrator was placed in a position in the transportation department of the school and remains under investigation. There have been other accusations of anti-Semitism by both administrators and students at the school over the past year.

Workers' compensation can offer survivor families relief

Road construction on Florida roadways is nothing new. Construction is often performed during nighttime hours in an attempt to decrease congestion during daylight hours. Speed limits are typically reduced in construction zones in an attempt to protect the lives of construction workers. A recent tragic accident took the life of one construction worker whose family may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.

The accident occurred in the early hours of the morning. Two vehicles collided in a construction zone, and the impact caused one of the vehicles to veer into the construction zone. The vehicle struck one of the construction workers and also ran into some construction equipment.

Most workers have witnessed employment discrimination

Employers might want to convince workers that discrimination is a thing of the past, but most people have witnessed or experienced the exact opposite. In fact, employment discrimination is still thriving in the American workforce. Even divorce workplaces in Florida are not immune to this.

According to a 2019 survey from Glassdoor, more than 75% of American workers think they are part of a diverse workforce. But diversity does not matter all that much when people are still not treated equally. That same survey found that 60% of workers have either witnessed or experienced age, gender, race or LGBTQ identity discrimination in the workplace. This is despite the fact that since 2018, U.S. companies have increased the number of positions for inclusion and diversity by 30%.

Employment discrimination still a concern for LGBT workers

Employees in Florida have certain protections when they go to work. For example, employment discrimination involving gender or race is against the law. There is a current lack of protections for LGBT workers, but a recently proposed state law hopes to put an end to that. This bill has support from both sides of the political aisle, but it also faces some significant challenges as well.

The House Speaker has some significant reservations about the bill. He says that he thinks that passing it will actually lead to an increase in litigation and cause complications for employers. One reason behind this thinking is that sexual orientation is not physically apparent. Unlike a worker's gender, an employer cannot tell by looking at someone what that person's sexual orientation is. 

Advanced age should not result in employment discrimination

It has long been acknowledged that words, contrary to the well-known children's rhyme, can hurt. The U.S. Supreme Court is now considering whether a term introduced by younger people and aimed at the baby boomer generation can be considered as age employment discrimination in the workplace in Florida and around the country. The term is "OK boomer."

In a world that is changing so rapidly it may not be difficult to understand how a younger person might become frustrated by hearing that there might be benefits to how something might have been done in "the old days." The age discrimination law that was passed in 1967 was enacted in part to protect older employees from this kind of discrimination. It took time to acknowledge that there was value to having the perspectives of both men and women in the work environment. It is time to acknowledge that older employees can have a positive impact as a result of their age and experience, not in spite of it.

Social Security disability change could be debilitating

The process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance can take years to complete. Under current law, Social Security disability recipients are subject to periodic reviews that determine their continuing eligibility to receive benefits. Under a proposed new law, this review would occur every two years. Many people receiving benefits in Florida may have difficulty complying with this requirement.

A woman in Westmoreland City had to submit to a continuing eligibility review last year. The woman suffers from a traumatic brain injury and has difficulty filling out forms. She did complete the review with the assistance of a free legal service. She receives $783 a month as her benefit and that is her only income. More frequent reviews could pose a hardship and she fears that could lead to her losing her eligibility.

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