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Lakeland Legal Issues Blog

More construction projects means need for workers' compensation

The economy in Florida and around the country is doing well, and this has led to an increase in construction projects. As the number of properties under construction have increased so has the number of construction related accidents, some of which have been fatal. Fortunately, workers' compensation insurance is available to help those injured or the families of those who died on the job.

In a recent incident, a form that had been put into place on the 13th floor fell onto a worker below. The form was in place for cement to be poured for a concrete wall. At the time, there were significant wind gusts in the area that measured as high as 33 miles per hour. It is believed that this may have contributed to the accident. The condition of the injured worker is not known, but he was said to be in stable condition by the paramedics who transported him to the hospital.

“Go back to your country” and employment discrimination

Recently, the phrase, “go back to your country,” worked its way into public discourse. While the words may seem to be innocuous in some settings, such as when a foreign visitor is boarding a return flight, they may be problematic in others. In fact, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the phrase may constitute illegal workplace harassment or discrimination

In the United States, it is illegal for any employer to discriminate against applicants or employees because of their race, sex, national origin, religion or skin color. While ethnic slurs clearly violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, some other behaviors are also impermissible. Here are some examples that may support a harassment or discrimination complaint: 

Workers' compensation insurance should be there for survivors

People on the job in Florida have the right to expect a reasonably safe work environment. When employees face the potential of exposure to toxic substances, safety procedures should be known and proper training on these procedures should be mandated for employees who may come into contact with possibly dangerous substances. A person who becomes sick through exposure may have grounds for a workers' compensation claim.

A lawsuit concerning a Florida man claims that he contracted a fatal illness as a direct result of work that he performed. He had been told to clean out a storage shed and move supplies that were stored there to a different location. The area to be cleaned out reportedly contained dust, dead birds, live bats and rodents. The man contracted cryptococcal meningitis and died. The suit brought by the man's survivors asserts that the meningitis was contracted by coming into contact with bird feces and other toxic elements at the site.

Proposed change a challenge for one on Social Security disability

A new year frequently means changes to existing laws. In 2020 there is a proposed change to the Social Security Disability Insurance requirements that could have a profound impact on a large number of people in Florida and around the country. The change concerns the requirements needed to be followed to maintain Social Security disability coverage.

Having a special needs child can be a tremendous strain on a family and the struggle to achieve independence for a special needs adult can be a constant one. A woman in another state has a 10-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, both of whom have special needs. Her daughter is hard of hearing and has autism. When she turned 18 the woman wanted her to be able to attain some degree of independence and Social Security disability provided that.

Workers' compensation cannot atone for loss of a loved one

Working in the construction industry in Florida and elsewhere is inherently risky. These risks can be exacerbated by weather conditions. This may have been the case in an accident that took the life of a man who had been  working on a roof. That loss has caused his fiancée to be celebrating her first holiday season without him. Workers' compensation insurance exists to help in situations like this.

A man was working on a church roof in Melbourne that was made of metal. There had been rain and the moisture sitting on the roof caused it to become slippery. The man lost his footing on the slippery surface and fell two stories to the ground below. He was transported to Holmes Regional Medical Center but his injuries were extensive and doctors were unable to save him.

Getting Social Security disability benefits for mental disorders

Living with a debilitating mental illness is not easy. Those suffering from mental illness might experience periods when managing symptoms, going to work and living daily life is possible. But they may also experience long stretches of time when these tasks are simply out of the question. Social Security disability benefits can help these individuals secure the financial stability they need to survive.

When a mental illness prevents someone in Florida from working, he or she can apply for benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance -- SSDI -- or Supplemental Security Income -- SSI. Whether for a physical disability or mental illness, anyone who claims these benefits has to prove that these problems prevent them from working. Sadly, there is still a lot of stigma and lack of understanding when it comes to mental disorders, so proving that is much harder.

Bowling can result in a workers' compensation claim

Workplace injuries happen and are often attributable to unfortunate incidents that occur in one's place of work while a person is engaged in the performance of his or her work duties. Workers' compensation insurance exists to help cover medical expenses and lost wages that may result from such an injury. A recent case in Tallahassee, Florida, deals with what happens when such an injury occurs during a workplace-sponsored outing.

A company outing took place at a local bowling alley. While participating in the activity, a woman injured her ankle. The outing took place during working hours, and employees were under the impression that attendance was expected. The purpose of the outing was described as to boost employee morale and also to discuss goals for the coming year.

Terminal cancer diagnoses and Social Security disability

Few things in life are as devastating as being struck with a life-threatening disease. Of these, cancer remains one of the most serious and debilitating illnesses. A cancer diagnosis can result in an inability to continue to work. In Florida and across the country, Social Security disability exists to help in such circumstances, but there is typically a five-month waiting period before benefits are paid.

A man in another state was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the same aggressive brain cancer that killed John McCain. The man, along with his wife, was a real estate broker. The man applied for Social Security Disability and was told about the waiting period. Though the couple has other insurance, they are concerned about the costs that the insurance will not pay, such as co-pays and deductibles which can add up quickly.

Employment discrimination based on appearance should not happen

Every human being is unique in very many ways. With the exception of identical twins, no two people look exactly alike, and they differ in appearance from everything to height, weight, hair color and gender. Employment discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of issues such as gender, race, religion or age. There is another issue that is finding its way into the realm of workplace discrimination in Florida. That issue has to do with hair, not necessarily the color but the natural appearance of someone's hair.

A state senator is proposing legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against an employee based on the person's natural hair appearance. If the legislation becomes law, people with braids, dreadlocks, twists or similar styles would be protected from workplace discrimination. The senator has stated that he has heard from several people, in particular African American women, who fear discrimination if they opt for a natural look. The women fear it will hold them back in advancing in the corporate environment.

The term "ok, boomer" may contribute to employment discrimination

The generation known as the baby boomer generation is working longer into their later years than prior generations who typically retired around the accepted age of 65. Millennials have coined a term that is sometimes used when one disagrees with something an older person says or to dismiss an argument being presented by an older person. The term is "Ok, boomer." In some instances, it's being looked at as possible age discrimination, which is a form of employment discrimination in Florida.

The term is frequently seen in social media in memes or other social media commentary. It is also surfacing as a derogatory comment in the workplace and is considered by some to be harassment. Anything that is perceived as being discriminatory against older workers has ramifications because of the increase in age discrimination issues in the workplace. Older workers are at risk of being discriminated against for promotion and can be easy targets for layoffs.

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