Williams-Sonoma Agrees to Pay $700,000 Civil Penalty for Failure to Report Defective Pottery Barn Kids Roman Shades

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

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1973 and charged with protecting the American public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call the CPSC hotline at 1-800-638-2772, or visit http//:www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. Further recall information is available at http://www.cpsc.gov.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1973 and charged with protecting the American public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call the CPSC hotline at 1-800-638-2772, or visit http//:www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. Further recall information is available at http://www.cpsc.gov.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Williams-Sonoma, Inc., of San Francisco, Calif., has agreed to pay a $700,000 civil penalty.

By the time that Williams-Sonoma filed its full report with CPSC, seven consumers had reported that children had become entangled on the inner cords of the Pottery Barn Kids Roman shades. Williams-Sonoma ultimately recalled approximately 85,000 of the Roman shades in cooperation with CPSC.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety requirement enforced by CPSC.

Williams-Sonoma has agreed to continue to maintain the compliance program and system of internal…

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Ladies of Charity

Kim Bobo

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

Mary Domer heads the local chapter of the Ladies of Charity and just chaired the national conference held in Milwaukee.  She recruited Kim Bobo, Director of Interfaith Workers Justice and author of Wage Theft in America to speak to the assembly. Kim’s presentation reminded us of the disparities of wealth in America and how that wage gap is increasing, in some measure because of wage theft.  Among the gems garnered from Kim’s presentation

  • If your employer tells you you are an independent contractor, you’re probably not.
  • Methods of “contingency employment” are on the increase including ever increasing temporary workers, seasonal workers and permanent “part time” workers.
  • Three-quarters of low wage workers don’t get overtime.  These include folks who can’t do all the work needed in 40 hours, but who would be fired if they didn’t perform all the work needed, daycare workers who have to stay off the clock and wait for parents to arrive, and “off the clock” work done in set up and clean up.  The most egregious examples were McDonalds workers told by their managers to clock out and sit and wait in the car until they were needed when more customers arrived.

Kim noted that many “tip” workers do not receive any of the tips, reminding us to either ask the question about whether the worker would receive a tip paid for by credit card or alternatively to simply pay in cash.  She noted an average of $2,600 lost average per year for low wage workers including janitors, drivers, landscapers, care workers.

Despite these negative trends, Kim suggested five ways in which we can all support low wage workers.

  1. Support campaigns to increase the minimum wage.
  2. Help with legislation and ordinances on paid sick days (40 million low wage workers have no paid sick days).
  3. Push Wal-Mart, McDonalds and other employers to increase their wages.  (She noted Wal-Mart does pay well in Europe so they have the capability when they are forced to do so.  Astoundingly, she noted six members of the Walton family possess a significant portion of the wealth in America.)
  4. Support legislation to provide a clear paystub to all employees.  (Many are being paid by debit cards where they have to actually pay money to their employers to get paid.)
  5. Honor employers who pay well through “a living wage certification program” in each of our communities.

 Through these methods and many more, we can all be men and Ladies of Charity.

 

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Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Ebola?

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

The recent news of Ebola in the United States has given me pause to think whether the nurses in Texas who contracted the Ebola virus are covered under the workers’ compensation system.

Here in Nebraska, the nurses with Ebola would almost certainly be covered. In Nebraska, occupational diseases are covered as long as the illness or injury was peculiar to the particular trade or employment. Generally, regular diseases that the general public is exposed to are not covered occupational diseases. For example, influenza, colds, or even MRSA (a type of antibiotic-resistant infection) would probably not be covered for a healthcare worker. Those diseases could be contracted in limitless places or circumstances. However unlike those diseases, I would think that Ebola coming from one single, easily identifiable source would be covered and would easily be proven to have come from the job of being that patient’s nurse.

Let’s just hope we never get to a point where Ebola becomes widespread enough that it would not be a covered occupational disease. If it does, we will have more problems than the compensability of a workers’ compensation claim. 

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Ebola Outbreak: Are You Prepared And Protected?

Today’s post comes from guest author Frank Francis, from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

I have been carefully following the Ebola outbreak, both the cases in the United States and those around the world. I am saddened to see anyone suffer from this horrible virus, but the preventable infections, including the infection of multiple health care workers in Dallas, are particularly alarming. Health care workers are on the front lines of our fight against this deadly disease and their bravery should be recognized. They are an infected patient’s first point of contact with a hospital and are in close contact with infected patients during their struggle, often having to work with blood and bodily fluids, the primary methods of transmittal. 

The lack of preparation on the part of some of our healthcare institutions has been extensively covered in the news. According to reports from Dallas, the hospital where the first patient was admitted had a complete absence of protocols for caring for patients with Ebola. This lack of preparation has put thousands of people at risk of infection and at least potentially contributed to in the spread of the outbreak in the United States from one patient to at least three. But the failure lies not only with local hospitals, it is also due to a slow and uncoordinated effort by our Federal government.

Even if existing protocols had been followed in Dallas, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, admits that the Federal guidelines are inadequate. The Centers for Disease Control is revising its protocol for the treatment of Ebola patients, but the recommended steps will take time to fully implement. The CDC’s current protocol was originally developed by the World Health Organization for the treatment of infected patients in facilities in rural Africa, not in busy American hospitals.

Even before the comprehensive protocols are developed and implemented, our health care workers should to be trained on the basics and given the proper equipment for their own protection. For example, nurses must be trained in and practice the complicated and tedious getting in and out of hazmat suits. Training must happen quickly, as the situation could become dire – as of today we only have 4 hospitals in the United States that are fully equipped with a pre-trained staff. Those hospitals can treat a total of 9 Ebola patients. We are just not equipped for a large domestic Ebola outbreak.

Further, as this CNN video below explains, health care workers are not the only ones at risk. Because Ebola can survive on surfaces like doorknobs, tables and fabrics long after an infected person has touched them, many locations may need to be disinfected in the coming weeks as the true extent of the outbreak becomes known. Just last week a group of airline cabin cleaners at LaGuardia Airport went on strike because of the possible health risks of cleaning surfaces touched by Ebola-infected passengers. Like health care workers, the workers who are in charge of the disinfection process should follow the Federal guidelines once they are released.

 

In addition to the possibility of Ebola infection, working in extraordinarily difficult conditions is highly stressful and the complicated new procedures could lead to injury. We urge all workers to be extremely cautious when training on and implementing new procedures.

If you are a Health Care worker involved in an accident or occupational injury, please consult us regarding your financial and medical rights. Workers are entitled to know about their rights under the law, whether it is from a traumatic injury or from occupational conditions due to repetitive activity at work over time. There are deadlines to filing a claim so please contact Pasternack, Tilker, Ziegler, Walsh, Stanton & Romano, LLP as soon as you can.  

U.S. practices of Burn Pit use in Iraq questioned by public health researchers

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

Today’s post is shared from michigandaily.com/

Two experts in the field of Iraqi public health gave a lecture Wednesday night on the increase of birth defects in the war-torn nation.

Muhsin Al-Sabbak, a physician at Iraq’s Basra Maternity Hospital, and Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist who resides in Ann Arbor, presented a one-hour lecture centered on their research, which links the increase in congenital birth defects in Iraq over the last two decades to the use of U.S. and coalitions force weapons there.

Al-Sabbak referenced his study that found a 17-fold increase in children with birth defects between the years 1995 and 2003, a jump from 1.37 birth defects per 1,000 children to 23 per 1,000. By 2008, the number had increased to 48 per 1000, and in 2014 it was 37 per 1000.

Savabieasfahani attributed the spike to an increase in pollutants caused by U.S. weapons and the presence of military bases.

“The most important event that happened in these years was U.S. invasion and U.S. bombardments,” Savabieasfahani said. “As much as we don’t like to get into politics, pollution is a very political thing.”

Savabieasfahani said bombs, bullets and explosives increase the amount of toxic metal such as lead and mercury in the environment. She also said U.S. military bases often have “open air burn pits,” or pits in which they burn disregarded military waste, releasing dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere…

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Former inmate files lawsuit alleging abuse against York County prison guards and county

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

A former York County prison inmate has filed a federal lawsuit against four guards he says coerced him, along with other inmates, to participate in humiliating activities in what the guards allegedly called the "Retard Olympics."

James Williams Hicks Jr., of Dover, named Daniel H. Graff, David Michael Whitcomb, Mark Andrew Haynes and Adam S. Marcini as the officers involved in his alleged mistreatment as well as York County, according to the lawsuit filed Sept. 29 in U.S. Middle District Court in Harrisburg.

The lawsuit claims that the officers arranged different events for the inmates from 2008 to 2013. 

Hicks claims that he was choked and punched as part of the events, as well as paired to wrestle inmate David M. Wright. 

Other events outlined in the lawsuit include:

  • Drinking 1 gallon of milk in one hour;
  • Eating an entire spoonful of cinnamon;
  • Snorting spicy Ramen noodle flavoring powder;
  • Snorting crushed hard candy;
  • Drinking a bottle of water containing pepper spray foam;
  • Drinking a concoction known as "Mystery Soup," which consisted of olives that had been left unrefrigerated for several weeks and mixed with cleaning supplies.

Hicks went along with the events to avoid becoming the target of other "violent forms of ‘amusement’" at the hands of the guards, according to the lawsuit.

In return for participating in the events, the guards gave Hicks "trivial favors," including extra coffee and food…

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Labor advocates: Workers’ comp case misses target

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

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater touted the arrests of more than 100 immigrant agriculture workers last July as an effort to crack down on the costly problem of workers’ compensation fraud.

But it quickly became apparent the raid on the Naples-area Oakes Farm fruit and vegetable processing plant wasn’t your typical workers’ compensation fraud, such as employees who fake back injuries or businesses who treat employees as outside contractors.

Instead, the state attorney’s office charged the mostly Mexican and Central American workers, many in the country illegally, under Florida statutes that makes it a felony to use a fake or stolen ID to obtain a job – and, by extension, workers’ compensation insurance.

On Tuesday, prosecutors and an attorney representing the workers confirmed most had agreed to a pretrial diversion deal akin to probation.

Naples attorney Donald Day said as long as the workers kept out of trouble, the charges would be dropped.

Still, Immigrant and workers’ advocates say Atwater is skirting the line of pre-empting the federal government’s immigration authority by targeting these workers, whose main crime was finding a fake Id that employers wink and nod at – and should instead go after the employers who benefit from their cheap labor.

“In Florida this is a new wrinkle, where the state is going after people who haven’t even filed a workers’ comp claim, and is essentially…

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US officials expected to announce Ebola screening at airports

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.cidrap.umn.edu

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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