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Lakeland Legal Issues Blog

Appeals for disability benefits

When you apply for Social Security Disability in Florida, you may expect the Social Security Administration to provide these benefits. However, sometimes the SSA might deny your claim. At Kaylor, Kaylor and Leto, P.A., we know it is important for you to know how you can appeal this decision. 

When you first get a denial from the SSA, you may not understand why this administration denied your claim. You can usually ask to access all of the documents related to your claim so you can see which records the SSA looked at. Sometimes your claim may have missing medical documents. In other situations, there may be an error about your disability. Once you understand why the SSA denied your claim, you may decide to file an appeal.

EEOC sues Florida construction company for gender discrimination

Federal employment discrimination laws are meant to protect vulnerable groups from discriminatory hiring and employment practices, including women in fields that are traditionally dominated by men. It is to be hoped that qualified people of all genders in Florida receive the same considerations when applying for jobs that have, in the past, been restricted mainly to men or to women. A recent lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission highlights the continued opposition that women may encounter in male-dominated industries.

According to the South Florida Business Journal, a woman with 20 years of experience in construction applied for a job as a heavy machinery operator at BHT Constructions LLC in 2017 at the company’s Clewiston site. Reportedly, a man who had been a colleague of the female applicant was hired instead, and he was told by a supervisor that the company does not hire women. Upon hearing the complaint of gender discrimination, the EEOC found sufficient reason to pursue a federal lawsuit against the company. In addition to seeking compensation for financial losses and emotional pain, the lawsuit seeks an injunction against the company for gender discrimination in its hiring practices.

Heat-related illnesses a pressing problem for delivery drivers

When people agree to work for a company in Florida, they face a unique set of risks depending on the industry they are working in, the types of day-to-day tasks they are in charge of completing and whether or not they adhere to the safety measures put in place for their protection. Delivery drivers who take packages to people and businesses are required to work regardless of whether it is pouring rain or the temperatures are soaring in the 90s and above. 

For package delivery drivers this summer, the risk of experiencing a heat-related illness has been notably high. Reports of drivers ending up in emergency rooms across the nation because of fainting, cramping or kidney failure have been higher than in summers past. While companies promote practices to keep their drivers from suffering heat-related illnesses by drinking enough water, taking required breaks and reporting illnesses, delivery drivers say the support has been lacking as of recent. 

What is SSDI and how does it work?

Should you become disabled because a Florida workplace injury or illness rendered you unable to work, you likely can apply for and receive Social Security Disability insurance benefits. However, the National Academy of Social Insurance warns that you must meet a two-pronged eligibility standard.

First, both you and your employer must have paid into the Social Security system. Second, your work-related injury or illness must be severe enough that not only can you no longer perform your job, but any work at all. Even then, in most instances your disability must have continued for at least 12 months in order for you to receive SSDI benefits.

Forms employment discrimination can take

Florida residents have the right to work where they want without being discriminated against. Unfortunately, discrimination in the workplace still happens. It is important to keep an eye out for the actions and activities that can count as discrimination.

FindLaw takes a look at the basics of employment discrimination, defining it as a protected class being attacked unfairly on the basis of their status. As an example, pregnant women may face discrimination in the workplace due to being pregnant. They can be denied promotions because of misplaced beliefs that they will "abandon" the job as soon as they give birth, or are not taking their career seriously because they have chosen to become a parent, too. However, these actions - and any action against protected classes like this - are not legal and are considered to be discriminatory.

Has age discrimination played a role in your termination?

Despite the enlightened outlook that many businesses have cultivated, discrimination in one form or another is still a problem in some companies.

Perhaps your termination after two decades of hard work and loyalty to the business came as a complete surprise. Do you believe age discrimination played a role in the decision to let you go?

How do I recognize racial discrimination?

Many people in Florida and elsewhere live in a racially contentious environment. We should be past such issues, but we are unfortunately not there yet. Being targeted by negative racial comments and actions can be threatening in any setting, including the workplace. Fortunately, employment laws protect you and others from racial discrimination.

As the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains, racial discrimination at work is illegal, along with other forms of discrimination and harassment. What is racial discrimination, you may wonder? This is any form of negative behavior targeted at a person’s race, color, personal characteristics associated with race or relationship with another person of a certain race. Racial discrimination is prohibited regarding hiring, employment, termination, wages, promotions, assignments, benefits and training. The following examples illustrate racial discrimination:

  • Making offensive or derogatory remarks, including slurs, about a person’s race or color
  • Segregating employees based on their race
  • Displaying racially offensive or insensitive symbols or materials at work
  • Making an adverse hiring or firing decision solely based on a person’s race

Can I get disability benefits for an immune disorder?

You may not realize that Social Security Disability benefits are available to people who have immune system disorders in Florida. It is important to understand what kinds of disorders qualify for these benefits, as well as what you need to do to access them.

According to the Social Security Administration, you may qualify for disability benefits if your condition falls into one of three groups of immune system disorders. One of these groups is immune deficiency disorders. This includes conditions which might have complications that can affect the rest of your body. You may also have frequent infections which are difficult to treat. Disability benefits also generally cover autoimmune disorders. This means your body may work against itself when your immune system has to target pathogens. Additionally, HIV sometimes qualifies for these benefits.

Can you get a second opinion in your workers' comp case?

When you sustain an injury on the job, you expect your Florida employer to compensate you for said injury. However, before workers' compensation kicks in, you must undergo a medical exam performed by an employer-approved physician. That physician must confirm two things: 1) that you sustained an injury and 2) that you sustained said injury on the job. If the physician reports findings that say any differently, you will not qualify for workers' comp. You may wonder if you can combat adverse findings with a second opinion. The Legal Examiner explains that you can, but doing so will not be easy. 

In The Sunshine State, if you lose confidence in your initial physician, you have two options: Request a one-time change in doctors or pay up to $2,500 for an independent medical exam from a doctor of your choosing. Per F.S. 440.13(2)(f), you may request a change in physicians just once during your case without penalty. Once you make a change, however, you cannot request another. Though this may seem like good news, know that you do not get to select the new physician — your employer does. Unfortunately, workers' comp doctors often work for the insurer, so it is unlikely the new doctor's findings will differ much from those of the first doctor.

Know your toxic exposure procedures

Most workplaces have some types of chemicals or substances that can be toxic and dangerous, regardless of industry. At the law office of Kaylor, Kaylor & Leto, P.A., we know that you do not have to work in a chemical engineering plant to face chemical hazards on the job. Even the cleaning supplies in your office broom closet can harm you if you are not prepared on how to handle them or your workplace lacks information on proper use and first aid procedures.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, your employer should have material safety data sheets (MSDS) on each kind of chemical substance used in your workplace. Additionally, each container of chemicals should be accurately labeled, and employees should be provided training on how to use them. For example, many restaurants and cleaning companies use concentrated solutions that should be properly diluted before they are safe to use. Failing to dilute the solution enough could result in skin burns or lung damage from inhalation.

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