DHS hit with immigration lawsuit

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.washingtonpost.com

Anibal Fuentes came to the United States illegally years ago, faced deportation proceedings in December and was ordered to leave the country. Now, he is among a group of people suing the Department of Homeland Security.

An advocacy group filed a lawsuit against DHS Wednesday, alleging that the agency failed to respond to a rulemaking petition filed in February that asked the agency to suspend deportations of undocumented workers and their families and expand the deferred action for childhood arrivals program. A number of people who came to the country illegally, including Fuentes, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network claims that the agency is in violation of the Federal Administrative Procedure Act. "DHS’s failure to respond constitutes an effective denial that is arbitrary, capricious and void of any legitimate explanation,” the group said in the lawsuit.

"What the law says is, they have to respond in a reasonable amount of time," said Jessica Karp Bansal, a staff attorney at NDLON. "In a case like this where peoples’ lives are at stake, nine months is clearly unreasonable."

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.

The rulemaking petition was filed earlier this year as President Obama was mulling whether he should act alone on the issue. Fuentes and five other people who came to the United States illegally signed on. Now that the…

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Phoenix arson investigators named in civil-rights lawsuit

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.azcentral.com

Phoenix Fire Department
Phoenix Fire Department

(Photo: The Republic)

A 44-year-old man has filed a lawsuit against Phoenix alleging that Fire Department investigators violated his constitutional and civil rights in 2009 when he was indicted on suspicion of arson.

Carl Vincent Ball Caples, who now lives in Illinois, spent more than 14 months in a Maricopa County jail awaiting trial for allegedly setting fire to a home he shared with two other men near 19th Avenue and Union Hills Drive, according to the lawsuit. An arson expert hired by his then-defense attorney determined the blaze was an unintentional electrical fire.

Prosecutors dismissed the case against Caples the day his trial was set to begin.

His suit, filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleges that the city failed to hire properly trained investigators, did not provide them with additional training and allowed them to use discredited investigation techniques. The suit also alleges that fire investigators approached investigations with a "preconceived idea of whether a fire was arson." Caples’ attorneys demanded that damage amounts be determined in a jury trial.

Phoenix spokeswoman Stephanie Romero could not immediately comment on the suit because she didn’t know whether the City Attorney’s Office had had time to review it.

The lawsuit also names former Phoenix Fire Chief Robert Khan, former Fire Marshal Jack Ballentine, and Capts. Sam Richardson, Fred Andes and William Nelson.

The lawsuit is the latest development…

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How a Coalition Pushed for a Hotel Workers’ Minimum Wage

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nytimes.com

Most Sunday mornings last summer, Julia Gould set up a table at the Hollywood Farmers Market. Alongside stalls selling shiitake mushrooms, free-range poultry and orange-blossom honey, she was selling an idea: a $15.37-an-hour minimum wage for the city’s hotel workers — more than twice the federal minimum wage and one of the highest minimum wages in the nation.

As shoppers wandered past, Ms. Gould asked them to sign a petition calling on the Los Angeles City Council to approve the proposal. She also urged them to write on a whiteboard their reasons for supporting the higher wage. One shopper wrote that “to live a healthy life, you need a living wage,” while a woman carrying a Starbucks coffee scribbled that she supported the idea “because rent is expensive.”

A second community organizer photographed these shoppers and their hand-scrawled signs and then posted those pictures on Facebook and Twitter, steering them to Mitch O’Farrell, the City Council member who represents Hollywood. Mr. O’Farrell had questioned the wisdom of the $15.37 wage proposal, fearing that it would force hotels to lay off some of the city’s 17,000 hotel workers. “We were trying to show him that his constituents cared about this,” Ms. Gould said.

Her politicking was one small part of a campaign orchestrated by one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for low-wage workers: the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, or Laane. Harold…

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Major Asbestos Violations Result in Fines for Two WA Companies

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

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited two employers for violations that exposed workers to asbestos during the demolition of a Seattle apartment building. Asbestos can cause cancer and other fatal illnesses.

An L&I investigation into the Seattle project found a total of 19 willful and serious safety and health violations. As a result, together the businesses have been fined a total of $379,100.

Partners Construction Inc., of Federal Way, was cited for a total of 14 willful and serious violations and fined $291,950. Asbestos Construction Management Inc., of Bonney Lake, was fined $87,150 for five willful and serious violations.

The violations were for asbestos exposure to workers, asbestos debris left on site and other violations that occurred during demolition of an apartment building in the Fremont neighborhood. The three-story, five-unit apartment building was originally constructed with “popcorn” ceilings, a white substance containing asbestos fibers, as well as asbestos sheet vinyl flooring.

Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that can lead to asbestosis, a potentially fatal disease, as well as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Removal of asbestos-containing building materials must be done by a certified abatement contractor who follows safety and health rules to protect workers and the public from exposure to asbestos. The contractor must also ensure proper removal and disposal of the asbestos materials.

Partners Construction Inc., a certified asbestos abatement contractor at the time, was hired by the building owner to remove the asbestos before the apartment building was demolished.

After several weeks, Partners provided the building owner with a letter of completion indicating that all asbestos had been removed. When L&I inspectors responded to a worker complaint, the inspectors found that the removal work had not been done and approximately 5,400 square feet of popcorn ceiling remained throughout, as well as asbestos sheet vinyl flooring.

Partners came back to finish the abatement work; however, due to a prior history of willful violations, L&I was in the process of revoking Partners’ certification to do asbestos abatement work. In May, Partners was decertified and went out of business.

A new company, Asbestos Construction Management Inc. (ACM), owned by a family member of the Partners owner, took over the job using essentially the same workers and certified asbestos supervisor as Partners, and sharing the same equipment.

A subsequent L&I inspection of ACM found many of the same violations as in the Partners’ inspection. L&I has initiated decertification action against ACM.

The employers have 15 business days to appeal the citation.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For a copy of the citations, please contact Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

 Photo credit: avlxyz / Foter / CC BY-SA

Health specialist: Christie Ebola quarantine ‘inappropriate’

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

Today’s post is shared from hill.com

An Emory University health specialist slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 21-day quarantine policy of health workers returning from West Africa who were exposed to Ebola.

“To infringe on their civil liberties for the sake of fighting a shadow or the bogeyman is absolutely inappropriate,” Sean Kaufman told radio host John Catsimatidis in an interview to air Sunday on “The Cats Roundtable” – AM 970 in New York.

Christie has faced backlash from a nurse in Maine who was quarantined outside a New Jersey airport after recently treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.

Kaci Hickox, the first person quarantined under New Jersey’s strict anti-Ebola protocols, called her treatment “inhumane” and has since won court reprieve from the order.

“Any individual who is not showing signs or symptoms — they are not contagious and they are not a risk,” said Kaufman, a bio-security expert who oversaw infection control at Emory University Hospital when it treated the first two U.S. Ebola victims.

Kaufman said he was a “huge fan of Christie’s leadership, but questioned his actions that stoke new fears about Ebola’s possible spread in the United States.

“I wonder what Governor Christie would have said if nobody showed up to New Jersey after Hurricane [Sandy] because if you returned to New Jersey you’d be in quarantine for three weeks … It’s not a leadership decision. It’s a management of fear,…

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Lawsuit accuses Denver attorney of filming sex encounters with clients

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.denverpost.com

Updated:   10/30/2014 11:58:46 PM MDT

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A lawsuit accuses a Denver attorney of having illicit relationships with law clients, filming sexual liaisons in his office and going so far as marrying some of them in a polygamist union because it was "commanded of God."

Charles L. Fife, who specializes in drunken driving law, was sued by a client who claims Fife surreptitiously filmed himself having sex with women including clients. The plaintiff’s name is listed as Jane Doe because she claims to be the victim of sexual exploitation.

"For at least the last decade, Fife has sexually exploited, victimized and preyed upon women, including female clients, which is a violation of ethical standards," says the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Denver County Court by attorney Jerome Reinan.

Reached by phone Thursday, Fife said he had not been served with any lawsuit. "I have absolutely no comment," Fife said.

In a 2004 lawsuit filed against Fife by Michael McCullough, his former law partner, Fife was accused of abusing illicit drugs, confiscating client funds and having sex with clients, the lawsuit says.

The civil lawsuit claims that Fife, who is married, purports to be a member of a fundamentalist Mormon group that believes in polygamy, and is known to approach and explain his extramarital affairs to his victims through his religious beliefs, the lawsuit says.


The mainstream Mormon church disavowed the…

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Are You Kidding Me? Jimmy John’s Makes Sandwich Makers Sign Non-Compete Agreements

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

I thought I was reading “The Onion” when I read that Jimmy John’s was forcing lowly paid sandwich makers in Illinois to sign non-compete agreements. Unfortunately, this is true, and that is tragic for Jimmy John’s employees and employees everywhere.

If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud for employees, it is that these agreements are generally not enforceable. My reading of Nebraska law leads me to believe that a non-compete agreement for a sandwich maker would not be enforceable. In Nebraska, non-compete agreements are only enforceable if 1) they are not injurious to the public and 2) protect some legitimate interest of the employer and 3) are not unduly harsh and oppressive upon the employee. Obviously these non-competes are unduly oppressive and harsh to employees, but they likely also do not protect a legitimate interest of Jimmy John’s. Employers can be protected from unfair, but not ordinary, competition. What unfair competitive advantage can an $8-per-hour sandwich maker give to another sandwich-making shop? Nebraska has struck down non-compete agreements for much more highly paid workers, like sales professionals whose livelihood depends on building relationships with customers. I cannot see how any court could equate a sandwich maker making the minimum wage with a highly-compensated software or farm-products salesperson.

But such legal reasoning is cold comfort for a low-wage worker who is stuck with one of these agreements. Such treatment of Jimmy John’s and fast-food workers in general explains efforts to unionize Jimmy John’s workers and other fast-food workers. If you are a food worker who receives one of these non-compete agreements, I would be happy to consult with you. I would also encourage you to visit jimmyjohsnworkers.org and/or fightfor15.org.

Also remember that an election is 12 days away in Nebraska, Iowa, and most of the rest of the country. Please get out and vote, and vote for candidates who support employee rights.

Silver Buildings: New Buildings for Older People

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nytimes.com

Today’s post is shared from nytimes.com/

SAN FRANCISCO — I HEARD about the new building for months before I saw it. Part of a leading medical center, its green architecture and design were getting a lot of attention, as was its integration of top-notch modern medicine with health and wellness spaces inspired by cultures from around the world. My father’s doctor had moved there, and driving to his appointment we looked forward to experiencing the cutting-edge new building firsthand.

Outside, I unloaded the walker and led my 82-year-old father through the sliding glass doors. Inside, there was a single bench made of recycled materials. I noticed it didn’t have the arm supports that a frail elderly person requires to safely sit down and get back up. It was a long trek to the right clinic and I was double-parked outside. Helping my father onto the bench, I said, “Wait here,” and hoped he would remember to do so long enough for me to park and return.

He nodded. We were used to this. It happened almost everywhere we went: at restaurants, the bank, the airport, department stores. Many of these places — our historic city hall, with its wide steps and renovated dome, the futuristic movie theater and the new clinic — were gorgeous.

The problem was that not one of them was set up to facilitate access by someone like my father.

That may have been intentional. A few years earlier, I’d heard about a new community center where the older…

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