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Safety & Workers' Compensation

Cal/OSHA Issues High Heat Advisory to Employers with Outdoor Workers

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 Source: Department of Industrial Relations News Release

Cal/OSHA is again advising all employers to protect their outdoor workers from heat illness by taking precautionary measures. Beginning today, temperatures are expected to be 15 to 25 degrees above normal in both northern and southern California. The National Weather Service also issued heat advisories for the San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey Bay and San Diego regions that will be in effect through most of this week.

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Cal OSHA Launches 2014 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign

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The following was published March 25, 2014 in the Department of Industrial Relations News Release

Today Cal/OSHA launched the 2014 Heat Illness Prevention Program to educate employers and workers on the risks of prolonged heat exposure at outdoor worksites. The annual kickoff was held at a bilingual training sponsored by Cal/OSHA, the Nisei Farmers League and other agricultural employers. The goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of heat illness statewide and ensure compliance with California’s heat illness standard.

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California Appeals Court Widens Employer Liability for Employees’ Traffic Accidents

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Employers sometimes face liability for their employees’ automobile accidents. Under most circumstances the “going and coming” rule shields employers from liability when their employees negligently cause injury to others when they are in transit to or from their place of employment. In essence, courts have generally held that employers are not liable for commuting accidents because commutes are for the benefit of the employee, not the employer. A recent California case, Majid Moradi v. Marsh USA, greatly expands an exception to this safe haven and will increase employer liability for employees’ “off the clock” activities.

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California Appeals Court Widens Employer Liability for Employees’ Traffic Accidents

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Employers sometimes face liability for their employees’ automobile accidents. Under most circumstances the “going and coming” rule shields employers from liability when their employees negligently cause injury to others when they are in transit to or from their place of employment. In essence, courts have generally held that employers are not liable for commuting accidents because commutes are for the benefit of the employee, not the employer. A recent California case, Majid Moradi v. Marsh USA, greatly expands an exception to this safe haven and will increase employer liability for employees’ “off the clock” activities.

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Failure to Comply with the WARN Act Triggers More Bad News for Struggling Auto Company

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Fisker Automotive, maker of all electric powered cars for the luxury market was hit with a class action lawsuit after laying off 75% of their staff in Anaheim, California and failing to comply with the federal Worker Notification and Retraining Act (WARN Act) and California Labor Code section 1400 (Cal-WARN). The suit seeks civil penalties and unpaid wages for a period of sixty (60) days on behalf of one hundred and sixty (160) employees who allegedly failed to receive proper notice under the WARN Act and Cal-WARN (CLICK HERE for a copy). The layoff came after workers were furloughed and returned to work, and as Fisker faces default on a $193 million dollar loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. The lawsuit was filed by the same law firm that obtained a $3.5 million dollar settlement on behalf of employees who were laid off without notice after the famously troubled solar panel company, Solynra, filed for bankruptcy.

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Workers’ Compensation Changes Under Senate Bill 863

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After several months of intense negotiations between representatives of labor unions and employers, Senate Bill 863 was forged. SB 863 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 18, 2012 with many of the provisions taking effect January 1, 2013. The focus of the negotiations was clear. The permanent disability paid to injured workers was too low and the cost to administer claims was too high. Implementation of the changes brought about by the Bill will be overseen by teams from both the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). Some of the changes under SB 863 are outlined below:

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U.S. DOL Launches 2011 Heat Related Illness Outreach Campaign

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The weather in California has been slow to transition from winter to spring this year, but we all know that the summer heat wave will come.  On April 26th, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an outreach campaign to educate employers and workers about the hazards of working outdoors in the heat.  The Labor Department’s message is simple (and familiar to those of us in California)—water, rest, and shade.

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Workers' Compensation Claims Filed by Terminated Employees: Know the Law

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“I’m fired? Ow, my back!”

          Many employers are forced to go through an extended and costly process when disgruntled, recently terminated, employees decide to file potentially frivolous workers’ compensation claims.  Instances of employees filing workers’ compensation after learning of their termination are on the rise, and it is vital that employers understand their legal rights.  California Labor Code §3600(10) offers some protection to employers from terminated employees who decide to file workers’ compensation claims after receiving notice of their termination.  

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First-of-Kind Heat Illness Case Heading for a Court Decision

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          Principals of a farm labor contractor, Merced Farm Labor Contractor, who are accused in the death of a 17 year-old pregnant farm worker in 2008, are headed for a December 16, 2010, hearing in San Joaquin County on criminal charges, as well as an appeal hearing before the Cal/OSHA Appeals Board on citations assessed up to $262,000.

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Defending S&W Petitions: Employee Should Have Known Better

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          Employers around the state are experiencing an increase in petitions for “serious and willful misconduct by employer.”  The petitions are brought by employees or former employees before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and provide that the amount of compensation recoverable by the petitioner can be increased by 50% when the employer is found to have engaged in serious and willful misconduct under the California Labor Code.

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