Category Archives:All Posts

MISSOURI LEGISLATURE IS OKAY WITH “A LITTLE DISCRIMINATION”

Almost every corporation large enough to publish an employee handbook puts this in writing:  “This corporation has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”  Zero tolerance.  That means none.  Every human resource official will tell you that discrimination of any kind at any level should not be allowed.  And that’s the way it should be, right?

Not according to legislators in Missouri, who are actively trying to roll back civil rights laws in our State to allow for some level of discrimination.

How’s that, you say?  Are they putting that in a statute?

Yes, they are – by redefining discrimination and making it much harder for employees to prove discrimination.  Currently, an employee who is fired, for example, for needing Sunday off to attend church services, is required to prove to a jury that his religion was a “contributing factor” to the termination decision.  If that person’s faith and attendance requirements are any part of the decision –even if the boss can come up with other reasons – a jury can find in that person’s favor.  In other words, Missouri law today has zero tolerance for discrimination.

That will change if current proposed legislation is passed into law and signed by the Governor.  Members of both the Missouri House and Senate have introduced bills that make the standard higher than “contributing factor.”  For example, one bill (SB 43 introduced by Senator Romine) changes the burden so that the decision to terminate was “because of” the person’s religion.  The religion has to be a “motivating” factor.

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The author in Joplin, working on homes after the tornado

Let’s go back to my example, if this bill passes.  Suppose a practicing Christian tells his employer that he has to honor the Sabbath and refrain from work on Sunday, or just be allowed to attend church services on Sunday.  His boss can fire him and claim some other reason was the “motivating factor.”  The boss can even admit that the religious beliefs played a part in the decision to fire him so long as the boss claims some other reason was involved.

That’s not zero tolerance.  That says, “We in Missouri are willing to tolerate a little bit of discrimination.”

Why would Senator Romine propose such a bill?  The answer may be his own experience.  He owns a company called Show Me Rent to Own.  As of today, there is a lawsuit pending in Scott County against Show Me Rent to Own.  In that lawsuit, it is alleged that a supervisor for Show Me Rent to Own told an employee to “quit acting like a n*****” and that “black people are the worst to rent to.”  When the employee reported this conduct to HR, he was told that Senator Romine would be informed, but there was nothing she could do about it.  Months later he was fired.  The reason?  He used profanity at work – something the non-minority employees did routinely without discipline.

Understand, these are allegations in a lawsuit, and a jury has not yet heard the case.  But under today’s law, if the jury believed the employee’s race contributed to his firing, he could win.  Zero tolerance.  But if Senator Romine’s bill becomes law, he can tell the jury that profanity at work was the “motivating factor.”  In other words, it’s okay to use horribly racist language.  We’ll tolerate that.  But we draw the line at profanity.

Call your Representative and Senator.  Tell your Representative you oppose HB550, 552 and 676, and tell your Senator you oppose SB 43.

No Holiday Overtime? Know When to Call a Kansas City Employment Attorney

Disputes in the workplace are as old as time, and although it’s unfortunate, frustrating, and anger-inducing, workplace problems still occur, such as unpaid hours, unpaid overtime, discrimination, and sexual harassment, among others. It is important to note that many workplaces throughout Missouri have specific and well-detailed channels for filing complaints, but when the complaint fails, you may need to contact a Kansas City employment attorney.

Know When to Call an Employment Attorney | Popham Law

At Popham Law in downtown Kansas City, our employment lawyers boast years of experience helping individuals just like you through a variety of employment law issues, from discrimination cases to complex wage-hour disputes. If you are in the middle of a dispute with your employer, and it’s reaching the lawsuit stage, then don’t hesitate and call the employment law attorneys at KC’s Popham Law today.

Do You Need an Employment Attorney in Kansas City?

The moment you find yourself in a dispute, whether due to discrimination, harassment, contract disputes, or other employment law issues, you may be wondering, “Do I need an employment attorney for this?” In general, an employment attorney deals with the following issues:

  • Mistreatment by an employer
  • Wrongful termination
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Discussion of wages/benefits
  • Discrimination/harassment

Before calling your attorney, however, you should check with your HR department to see if it has protocols, policies, or procedures for handling certain legal compliance situations. In many cases, you will have to exhaust all administrative possibilities before you’re able to file a lawsuit.

When You Might Need a Kansas City Employment Attorney

There are many situations when you absolutely, positively need a Kansas City employment attorney. In fact, if the following situations happen to you, call your lawyer immediately:

  • Your employer sues you or threatens to sue you
  • You’re being asked to sign an agreement that you don’t fully understand, such as a noncompete, nondisclosure, confidentiality, arbitration, or employment agreement
  • You’ve been accused of a crime (in which case you should contact a criminal defense attorney)

Other situations where you probably need a Kansas City employment attorney include:

  • If you think your employer or former employer has broken any Missouri or federal employment laws
  • You are experiencing retaliation for complaining about discrimination or something illegal the employer has done
  • You think that you’re not being paid the wages that you’re owed
  • You think that you’re misclassified as exempt from overtime wages or as an independent contractor

When You Probably Don’t Need a Lawyer (Yet!)

Just like there are situations where you probably need a lawyer, there are also some workplace situations where you probably won’t need an attorney by your side. That said, you are free to always benefit from the legal counsel and expertise of an experienced attorney at your side.

Some of the situations where a lawyer might not be necessary include:

  • You’re writing a complaint to your HR department
  • You need to attend a disciplinary meeting
  • You need to sign documents that you do understand
  • You need to file a union grievance as a union member

Keep in mind that any of these situations could turn into a serious legal matter, and so it’s important to thoroughly document any processes and keep records, if possible.

Contact the KC Employment Law Attorneys at Popham Law

There is nothing more frustrating than being underpaid for the hours you put in, or suffering from discrimination and harassment at the workplace and not having an administrative option that would put a stop to it. For these reasons, we at the Popham Law Firm serve as diligent and relentless advocates of employee rights in Missouri, and we’ll provide an aggressive and professional representation with your interests at the forefront of our litigation strategy.

If you’re facing serious legal issues at your workplace, call Popham Law in Kansas City today. Call (816) 221-2288 or toll-free at (844) 243-2288.

Don't Get Sued! Know Your Winter Responsibilities For Avoiding Slips and Falls

As any Kansas City resident will say, winter is the season of slips and falls, and while some slips can be funny, others can result in twisted ankles, concussions, broken bones, and, in some cases, worse. And when serious personal injury coincides with a slip and fall, the victim may be facing costly medical expenses, lost wages, and suffering. For this reason, if you own a business or other property in Kansas City, it’s essential to maintain your property for winter conditions, prevent slips and falls, and, ultimately, prevent a lawsuit.

Prevent Slip and Fall Injuries in Kansas City | Popham Law Personal Injury Attorneys

At Popham Law in Kansas City, our slip and fall and personal injury attorneys have seen it all, including property owners who were found to be liable for winter conditions, such as ice or snow. As such, we’ve prepared this blog post about your winter responsibilities for preventing slips and falls.

However, if you need some of the leading personal injury attorneys in Kansas City, call our law firm at (816) 221-2288.

Am I Responsible for the Slip and Fall?

Before going around your property, workplace, public building, or other property, it’s important to ask yourself, “Will I be responsible if someone slips and falls on my property?” Generally, it’s safe to assume that if you own the property, and are the title holder, then an injured person’s lawsuit can be directed at you. If you are a manager at a company or the owner of a small business, and you’re incorporated, the lawsuit may try to hold your company liable instead of putting your personal assets at risk. Nonetheless, a lawsuit will be a huge expense.

Remember – for a slip and fall lawsuit, determining liability is a key factor in any case. Additionally, in order for a property owner to be held legally responsible for the injuries, one of the following must be true:

  • The property owner knew about the hazard and did not try to correct it
  • The property owner should have known about the hazard and taken steps to prevent injury, just as any “reasonable person” would have done
  • The property owner created the hazard

With ice- or winter-related slips and falls, you most likely didn’t create the hazard, but someone could argue that you knew about (or should have known about) the conditions and could have prevented the injury.

Assessing Slip and Fall Hazards

In order to try and prevent slips and falls (or, at least, try to make yourself immune to a lawsuit), you can take a three-pronged approach that includes 1.) assessment, 2.) controlling hazards, and 3.) engaging others.

Assessment should be the first part of your plan. When the weather dips way below freezing during the night, or a large storm passed through, or there is simply an increased risk for snow and ice around the city, then you should always assess any slip and fall hazards on your property. This assessment can include:

  • Conducting detailed inspections of parking lots, walkways and entrances
  • Inspecting any sloped surfaces, stairs, ramps, and paths
  • Spot checking for other hazards, such as formations of ice dams that’ll block drainage, back up on sidewalks, and re-freeze
  • Making plans to avoid indoor slips and falls from tracked-in hazards

Controlling the Hazards to Reduce or Eliminate Risk

After making thorough assessments, you can start controlling the hazards to optimize the risk management around your property. Some specific tasks you can follow include:

  • Discuss expectations with your maintenance staff or snow removal vendor.
  • Keep hazardous areas free of snow and ice, and prepare for continued maintenance throughout the day. Keep gloves and a shovel ready.
  • If you own a business, assign workers to remove snow and other hazards before other employees or customers arrive. Consider using a slip-resistant material.
  • Install slip-resistant flooring materials around areas prone to wet conditions.
  • If you own a business, require workers to wear footwear appropriate for the conditions.
  • Provide good lighting and illuminate parking lots, paths, and walkways.
  • Use “Caution” signs if caught off-guard or temporarily unable to keep up with floor cleaning.

Call the KC Slip and Fall Attorneys at Popham Law

Of course, there is some leniency during major winter storms. You shouldn’t have to braze a blizzard and put yourself at risk just to eliminate the potential risks. Nevertheless, it’s important to be proactive and eliminate risks when possible. If you were in a slip and fall, make sure to get the leading slip and fall attorneys in Kansas City by calling Popham Law at (816) 221-2288.

Who is at Fault For a Car Accident on Ice?

Kansas City is no stranger to the nuances of winter – the cold and dreary days, the blanket snowfalls in the morning, and those hidden patches of ice that send your vehicle slipping out of control. As a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents, injured drivers, passengers, or pedestrians may need to prove which vehicle primarily caused the accident, and when ice is thrown into the mix, proving fault becomes much more difficult.

Who is at Fault For a Car Accident on Ice | Kansas City Personal Injury Attorneys

The Popham Law Firm has some of the leading Kansas City personal injury and car accident attorneys, but even with our years of experience helping hundreds of individuals with their personal injury cases, the old “ice caused the accident” conclusion always presents numerous legal challenges when proving fault, partly because it can be true and partly because ice can’t be held liable.

If you were injured in an accident, don’t hesitate and get the legal representation who’ll fight for you. Call Popham Law today at (816) 221-2288.

How the Insurance Company May Determine Fault

Bad weather that can cause icy conditions is, for thousands of people in Kansas City, not enough to skip work, stay at home from school, or forego daily chores and other tasks. In other words, when the conditions are ripe for icy roads, you may still need to get behind the wheel.

In general, Missouri is a “comparative fault” state. If you file a claim under the other party’s insurance (or file a lawsuit in court), and ice is the reason for the accident, then the insurer may find that both drivers were at fault and only pay partial costs for repair of your car.

However, Missouri law states that the insurer must fully investigate the accident and document its basis for that determination.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that, despite the icy conditions, certain life-related requirements essentially force people to get behind the wheel. The insurance company or the court, however, may take a stance such as: “you drove at your own risk; you knew there would be icy conditions.”

In other words, the insurer or the courts will determine the amount of fault for both drivers. Because Missouri is a comparative fault state, and if the insurers or the courts find that ice was the true cause of the accident, the degree of fault may be split 50/50.

Can You Appeal the Fault Decision?

Believe it or not, but some people will blame the ice for their reckless or negligent driving behavior. And if you were on the receiving end of this recklessness, and the courts found ice to be the culprit even though you knew it wasn’t true, you have the right to appeal the decision. This is also true if you are blamed for the accident, but you are certain that you were driving fine and that bad weather was a primary cause for your sudden lack of control, which led to the accident.

Unfortunately, most insurance companies won’t use weather as the sole determining factor, and unless you can show that the other driver contributed to the fault, the decision will most likely stand.

Call the KC Personal Injury Attorneys at Popham Law

If you were injured in a car accident due to icy roads in Kansas City or the surrounding areas, then you should consider calling the KC personal injury attorneys at Popham Law. With years of experience representing clients just like yourself, and having taken cases involving ice and other weather-related conditions, we fully understand the nuances to these cases. For a free consultation with our attorneys, call our downtown Kansas City law firm today at (816) 221-2288.

DOES THE MISSOURI LEGISLATURE CONDONE SEXUAL ASSAULT?

There’s an old adage about speech writing – use the word “sex” in your opening, and you’ll have your audience’s attention.  Now that I’ve got your attention . . .

I wish this were a joke, or a clever literary device, but sadly, it’s not.  The Missouri Legislature has introduced legislation that allows a slimy boss to get away with sexual assault.  I’ve written about other aspects of SB 43 in previous blogs.  There’s so much wrong with this legislation that it can’t be covered in just one post.  Today, I am focusing on the elimination of individual liability.

Today, under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), an employee can sue both the employer company and  the individual who discriminated against the employee.  That makes sense, right?  For decades, we have been told that we should take responsibility for our own actions.  Particularly in the context of lawsuits, the idea of personal accountability was used by groups who wanted to eliminate what they called “frivolous lawsuits” brought by people who should “take responsibility for their own conduct” instead of suing someone else.

Group at Habitat

Popham Law Firm crew working for Habitat for Humanity

There’s another adage – “Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”  If taking personal responsibility is good enough for the person suing, it’s good enough for the person being sued.  If a person violates a law like the MHRA, they should be held personally responsible.  That’s the way it is today, and the way it should be.

That’s going to change if the legislature has its way.  The way they are doing it is a little sneaky.  You have to look in the definitions section of the statute.  Among the various things being defined, there’s a section that defines “employer.”  Under that, there’s a subsection that says, “’Employer’ shall not include  . . . an individual employed by an employer.”  There’s also a section that excludes “corporations and associations owned and operated by religious or sectarian groups” – so Saint (Fill in the Blank) Hospital is free to discriminate all it wants – but that may be another blog.

Before I get back to the title of this blog, there’s another new, sneaky section you need to know about.  “This [statute] . . .shall provide the exclusive remedy for any and all unlawful employment practices” mentioned in the statute (the emphasis is mine).  In other words, if someone has violated the MHRA, your only hope is to sue under the terms of that statute.

S0 – back to the title.  Here’s a situation I wish were just a made up hypothetical, but it’s from a real case.  A bright, hardworking teenage girl, looking to make some money for college, gets a job at the local fast food restaurant.  The manager is a creepy 50 year old who can’t keep his hands to himself.  I’ll let your imagination figure out what happens next, but I’ll add that this is not the first time for this manager.  Creeps like that are usually repeat offenders.

Under the MHRA today, the teenage victim of Mr. Hands can sue the restaurant and Mr. Hands.  Personal responsibility, right?  He assaulted this young girl, and he’s done it before, and if he’s not stopped, he’ll do it again.  He should pay, right?

Not if the Missouri Legislature has their way.  Under the new definition of “employer”, Mr. Hands cannot be sued.  But wait – he assaulted her!  Isn’t he liable for that?  Nope.  Remember that second sneaky little addition to the statute, about “exclusive remedies”?  The poor girl’s only remedy is under the MHRA.  She can’t even bring a civil assault and battery charge against Mr. Hands.  How’s that for personal responsibility?  In my next blog, I’ll talk about how her damages are being cut by this same law.

The example above is just one way individual responsibility is being eliminated.  Think of all the things the MHRA protects – race discrimination, age discrimination, disability discrimination, gender discrimination —  and it doesn’t take long to realize that a racist bully in the workplace can get away with taunting, mocking, teasing behavior and not be held accountable.  It isn’t just sexual assault the Legislature condones – it’s the guy teasing the co-worker with Down’s Syndrome, “macho man” telling the female “this is a man’s job,” the racist hanging a noose “as a joke” – and yeah, that’s a real case, too.

Get on the phone, send letters and emails – we’ve got to stop this!

MISSOURI SENATOR EMBRACES THE FEDERAL COURTS OVER STATE COURTS

Senator Gary Romine, sponsor of SB43, prefers Federal judges over our own Missouri State Court judges.  He says our own State Court judges should follow the decisions of Federal Court judges, but ignore what our own Missouri Supreme Court has said. SB43 “abrogates,” or overturns by statute, several specific Missouri Supreme Court opinions he and the corporate interests behind the bill do not like.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Missouri Legislatures’ efforts to steal your right to a jury trial, replacing it with secret arbitration proceedings.  Last week, I addressed the “Protect Corporations from Whistle Blowers Act” – wait – they call it the “Whistle Blower Protection Act,” but it does just the opposite.  In Bert-Braudmy blog, I pointed out the particular unfairness of the proposed Act’s elimination of all damages that aren’t lost wages.  In short, you can report your employer to the authorities for breaking all manner of laws, perhaps even saving lives in the process, get labeled a “rat” by your boss, abused by your co-workers — but as long as you are not fired, you get nothing.

Today’s topic is the Legislature’s attempt to overturn specific decisions by our Missouri Supreme Court.  You may remember from school the Three Branches of Government – the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch (in Missouri, that’s the Governor and his administration; for our country, it’s the President), and the Judicial Branch.  The Legislative Branch writes the laws, the Executive Branch enforces the laws, and the Judicial Branch interprets the laws.  Each is a check on the other two, making sure one Branch does not grow too powerful or act contrary to our Constitution.

The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) was written by the Legislative Branch.  The Missouri Commission on Human Rights, part of the Executive Branch, enforces those rights, but the law also allows private attorneys to step in and enforce those rights.  Employment lawyers like me are, in effect, acting as “private Attorney Generals,” who make sure the laws are enforced.

Sometimes, laws do not contain specific language, and judges have to decide what the law means.  For example, the MHRA did not say, one way or the other, whether a person was entitled to a jury trial if he sued under the MHRA.  In State ex rel. Diehl v. O’Malley, 95 S.W.3d 82 (Mo. 2003), the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that you are, in fact, entitled to have a jury decide your claims.  Fortunately, that right remains.

But supporters of SB43 – including all the big corporate interests behind it – are not happy with all the Missouri Supreme’s interpretations.  The Legislature wants to overturn specific cases, and take away important rights you have.  The act states, in three separate paragraphs, that “the general assembly hereby expressly abrogates by this statute” these cases.  “Abrogate” simply means, overturn.  The result takes away some of your rights.

SB43 specifically overturns Daugherty v. City of Maryland Heights, 231 S.W.3d 814 (Mo. 2007), and  Thomas v. McKeever’s Enterprises, Inc., 388 S.W.3d 206 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012).  Both cases say that a person has been discriminated against if, for example, their religion or race was a “contributing factor” in the decision to terminate that person.  If, for example, your race or age was any part of the decision to fire you, you could bring a case.  SB43 changes this law.  If it is passed, SB43 will require a much higher standard – the decision to terminate will have to be “because of” your religion, race, gender, age or disability before you can bring a case.

That seems like a small change, right?  But here’s the difference.  I’ll use age discrimination as an example.  When a person is fired, the company always comes up with a reason – you were late too many times, or you broke a company rule.  And those are valid reasons to fire someone, right?  But what if you are, say, 57 years old, like me, and you get fired because you were late a few times — but the 23 year old who works next to you parties every night, and comes in late more than you, and he’s not fired.  That’s not fair, is it?  Today, if any part of the decision to terminate is based on age – even if there may be other reasons — you’ve proven a violation of the law.  “Abrogating” those Supreme Court decisions means that you will have to show the only reason was your age.

What that means is, the employer can come up with any other excuse for the termination.  They could even tell the jury, “Sure, we don’t like old people working here.  We’d like to see our workforce get younger.  But he was late, so we fired him.”  This law allows a company to be, for example, “a little bit racist,” as long as they are not “a lot racist.”  In other words, it’s okay to discriminate against African Americans, or women, or people with a disability, as long as you can come up with an excuse.

Which brings me to the third Supreme Court case — McBryde v. Ritenour School District, 207 S.W.3d 162 (Mo. App. E.D. 2006).  By “abrogating” this case, an employer can tell the jury that they should consider a “business judgment” in making their decision.  This opens the door for the company to argue all kinds of other excuses for their discrimination.

I mentioned earlier that SB43 wants our judges to follow Federal Court decisions.  What the corporations are trying to do with this change is to allow your case to get thrown out of court by the judge, with something called a “summary judgment.”  Statistics show that, in Federal Court, you are far less likely to ever have your day in court because of summary judgments.  This is even worse than arbitrations!  With an arbitration, you may have lost your right to a jury trial, but at least you get your case heard.  With summary judgment, you are tossed out, without even being allowed to tell your story to a jury.

There are more terrible things in SB43.  Next week, I’ll tell you about how you won’t be able to recover all your damages – and you may end having to pay the other sides lawyers!

THE MISSOURI HUMAN RIGHTS ACT MAY BE ON LIFE SUPPORT

In both the House and Senate of the Missouri Legislature, Legislators have introduced to dramatically change the Missouri Human Rights Act, or the MHRA.  This statute is our State’s version of federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of their religion, race, gender, age, national origin, or disability.  While the MHRA protects Missouri residents against discrimination in housing as well, it’s the sections that protect employees that are under attack.

There are a lot of proposed changes to the statute – too many to cover in one article.  I’ll have to take them one at a time, so look for future installments in the next few days and weeks.  Today, I want to focus on what is actually a new section of the MHRA.  It’s called the “Whistleblower’s Protection Act.”

From the title, it sounds like a great addition to our statute – we should protect Whistleblowers!  But don’t be misled.  If this statute is passed, whistleblowers will have fewer protections than they have today – this bill is more rightfully called the “Company’s Protection Against Whistleblowers Act.”Bert-Braud

What is a whistleblower, anyway?  No, I’m not talking about the referee at a basketball game.  A whistleblower is someone who sees behavior that is harmful to others, or to the environment, and has the courage to shout, “This is not right!”  The classic example is the factory worker who sees his employer dump toxic waste in the river next to the factory, or sees the company remove safety guards from dangerous equipment.  They report the conduct to the EPA or OSHA, and maybe the factory gets slapped with a fine.

Whistleblowers aren’t always blue-collar types.  Sometimes a whistleblower is a professional – an accountant who notices the company is “cooking the books” to cheat investors, or a doctor or nurse who notices the hospital she works in doesn’t follow safe procedures.

These people are heroes, people who should be rewarded for standing up for what is right.  They may be saving lives for bringing unsafe practices to an end, or saving the town’s drinking water from harmful chemicals.  They have the courage to speak out.

Courage, you say?  Why does it take guts to report blatantly bad behavior?  Well, the boss isn’t too happy when he gets ratted on, and too often, the courageous employee is the victim of retaliation.  He or she may be shunned by the rest of the crew, because they lost a safety bonus award.  Worse – and all too often – the whistleblower is fired, just because they did what they were raised by their parents to do – if you see something wrong, speak up.

Today in Missouri, a whistleblower can sue his or her employer if they are retaliated against for blowing the whistle.  If they convince a jury of twelve citizens that they were punished for standing up for what is right, a jury can award them damages.  Those damages start with lost wages.  If an employee is wrongly fired and losses income, a jury can “make them whole” by awarding lost wages.

But that’s not the only harm a fired whistleblower suffers.  Anyone who unfairly lost their job knows money is only a part of the damages.  Anyone with rent to pay, mouths to feed, children who need new shoes or a birthday present, knows what it is like to stare at the ceiling at three in the morning, wonder when the next bill collector is going to call, wonder what their wife thinks of them now that there is no paycheck every other week, or wonder what they will tell their teenager who had hoped to enroll in college next fall.

Courts in Missouri understand those kinds of damages, and in Missouri a jury can make the whistleblower completely whole by awarding damages for the pain, anxiety, and emotional suffering they felt while they tried to get back on their feet and find another job.  The law calls those damages “compensatory” – because they compensate for the emotional losses.  Today, all victims of discriminatory or retaliatory termination can recover those damages, if a jury of their peers, after hearing the facts, believes such damages will make the person whole again, or at least help.

SB43 (link here) and HB676 (link here) eliminate many of the protections the current law offers.  I’ll talk about those in another article.  My focus today is on the complete elimination of any damages for pain and suffering a whistleblower can recover.  The new law (I’ll refer to the Senate version, SB43; the two are identical in this respect) says “The only remedies available in such an action shall be (1) Back pay; (2) Reimbursement of medical bills directly related to a violation of this section;” and (3) “liquidated damages” which will be twice the other damages.  The portion called “back pay” refers to lost wages, but that’s all the person gets.  The only other damages are medical bills – if the whistleblower’s emotional harm was so serious they had to get medical treatment, the employer has to pay the bills, but that’s all.  And, instead of punitive damages to punish the employer for their misconduct, the employer is only punished to the extent the employee lost wages, times 2.

So, consider this possible scenario.  An engineer reports that his construction company employer uses a crane to lift heavy objects, when the crane is not designed to lift that weight (facts from an actual case), or a mechanic at a car dealership reports that the dealer sent a car that failed a safety inspection to another inspector, where it “passed” with no changes to the car (also a real case) and the whistleblower is fired.  Let’s say they are both talented, and get jobs right away – so their “back pay” may be a couple of thousand dollars.  The companies that put other people’s lives in danger are let off the hook for less than $10,000.00.  Do you think that will deter them from doing it again?

Worse, the whistleblowers don’t get a penny for the emotional harm they suffered.  Not a cent.  They had the guts to step forward, and risk their jobs and livelihood, and got fired for their good deed . . . but the employer gets off cheap.

Folks, these are the kinds of laws currently under consideration in Jefferson City.  We have to let our representatives know this is wrong!

Social Media Tips For Victims of Car Accidents

Social media investigation is a quickly growing aspect of personal injury cases, and when filing a lawsuit for a car accident that occurred in Kansas City or Missouri, the defense attorney or an insurance adjuster may conduct an investigation of Facebook or other social media. As such, following a car accident that left you injured, you may want to refrain from using Facebook, Twitter, or other social media channels to discuss your accident, your injuries, and so on. Unfortunately, if the courts uncover some information regarding the accident or the injuries, it could use this information against you.

On the other hand, there are some things that you can do to decrease the possibility of adverse action caused by your social media account. Nevertheless, one of the best tools for your personal injury lawsuit is an experienced (and tech savvy) Kansas City car accident attorney. At Popham Law, we’ll guide you through the entire car accident lawsuit, and we’ll provide thorough advice to make sure that you increase your likelihood of success as much as possible. If you were injured in a car accident and want to seek compensation for the injuries you incurred, call our accident attorneys at our Kansas City law office ASAP by dialing (816) 221-2288. Free consultations are available.

In the meantime, make sure to look over our 5 social media tips for victims of car accident victims below.

Secure your social media accounts with your privacy settings

Your social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, are constantly updating their privacy settings to protect their users. To keep defense attorneys, insurance adjusters, nosy lawyers, and other individuals from investigating your social media accounts (and to keep them from finding information that can be used against you), make sure to check your settings and ensure that only “friends” or selected individuals can see your profiles, posts, photos, videos, and so on.

Look over your photos and be cautious of new photos

If you were in a car accident and are seeking compensation, the courts, the insurance company, and other lawyers will want to double check your injuries to make sure that you are actually injured. As such, look over your photos and be cautious about any new photos that may show otherwise. This is especially true if you are seeking pain and suffering compensation. For instance, a defense lawyer may show a photo of you having fun with friends and argue that you aren’t experiencing substantial pain and suffering. To keep friends from tagging you, consider getting notifications so that you know when you’ve been tagged in a photo.

Look over your updates and be cautious of new updates

Similar to the tip for photos, you should look over all of your online profiles and check out any posts, updates, and other information. Simple things, such as smiley emojis and other posts can have dramatically negative effects for your case.

Know who can see your online activity when posting

Before you post any information on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or another social media platform, always ask yourself, “Who will be able to see my post?” If there is even a tiny possibility that someone could use your post against you, it’s a good idea to not post that content.

Check yourself out on Google

Even if you’re the most careful person on social media, it’s a good idea to take some time and search for yourself on Google. Consider doing an image search, or any other type of search, to see what comes up. If there’s a small possibility that some content on Google could be used against you, make sure to do your best and get that information removed immediately.

Protect Your Personal Injury Lawsuit With Popham Law

With decades of experience representing clients in their personal injury cases, we’ve experienced it all, and there is nothing more disappointing than a client who sabotages his/her multi-million dollar car accident lawsuit with a wrongly worded social media post or another activity. As such, you should always take your lawyer’s advice regarding the best interests for your case. Our Kansas City car accident attorneys have full-knowledge of Missouri personal injury law, and we will put your interests and rights at the forefront of our legal strategy.

If you were injured in an accident, don’t hesitate and call our Kansas City law office today at (816) 221-2288 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

MISSOURI SENATE WANTS TO BIND YOU TO ARBITRATION WITH YOUR EMPLOYER IF YOU HAVE A DISPUTE

Missouri Senate Bill SB45 | Arbitration in an Employer Dispute

After the elections of November 2016, a lot of people felt some deep angst. For many, it was outright depression. After reality sank in, there were lots of Facebook posts that carried a similar theme: “We’re mad as hell, and we aren’t going to take this! We’ll fight for our rights! We’ll volunteer! We’ll work in the shelters! We’ll donate money!”

A couple of months have gone by, and I hope the energy level hasn’t dissipated. Indeed, there are plans to march in Washington in protest of the incoming administration.

I’d like to remind everyone, though, of something Tip O’Neil said: “All politics is local.” There’s a lot of truth to that. We can – and should – call and write our Senators and Congressmen and women, but let’s not forget that there’s another legislative body much closer to home that has the potential to impact our lives more directly. Right down the road in Jefferson City, a two and a half hour drive from my home (I know, because I made that drive at 5:15 this morning, in the fog), sits a State Senate and Congress poised to gut the rights of Missouri workers.

They’ve been trying it for years. They’ve passed bills that took away rights given to Missouri workers in the Missouri Human Rights Act, and tried to limit protections for people who blow the whistle on bad actors. Until now, we had a governor who prevented those bills from going into effect. But as of 2017, the “last hope” of a veto is gone, and if we are not careful and watchful, the folks in Jeff City are going to sell our rights down the river to Big Corporations.

There’s a lot we can do. I’m starting a journey I hadn’t imagined a year ago — you’re reading my first ever Blog, the first of what I fear will be a series of updates on what is happening in our State Capital. What can you do? Volunteer, donate money, work in the shelters, sure. Those are all great and worthwhile activities. So is calling and writing the folks in DC. But I’m going to challenge you to look down the road to Jeff City on a regular basis. The folks there are accessible and need to hear from you.

What started this? Today, I testified before the Senate Government Reform Committee, in opposition to SB45. Here’s a link. In a nutshell, this bill makes it easier for employers to enforce arbitration agreements between them and their employees.

What’s “arbitration”? Arbitration is a substitute – and a weak one – for what you might normally think of as your day in court. Right now, if you are sexually harassed, passed over for a promotion by a less qualified, younger person, or treated differently in any way because of your age, race, gender, national origin, religion, or disability, in Missouri, you are protected by the Missouri Human Rights Act. Under the MHRA, you can file a charge of discrimination, and ultimately file a lawsuit, in court, based on that charge. But some employers are requiring employees to sign “Arbitration Agreements” that take away your right to a court case. Instead, you have to “arbitrate” the case in front of an arbitrator – usually, a lawyer or retired judge.

Missouri Senate Bill SB45 | Arbitration in an Employer Dispute

But here’s the thing. That arbitrator is paid by your employer. And while this is probably going to be the only time you ever use an arbitrator; your employer is going to use them over and over again. So, who do you think the arbitrator is going to lean towards? You? Or the company that is paying him in your case, and may use him again . . . and again . . . and again?

Now, arbitrators are good people, don’t get me wrong. They do their best to remain impartial; they’re sworn to, and they take that oath seriously. But how comfortable would you be in a courtroom, knowing the judge was on the other side’s payroll?

And that’s not the only problem with arbitration. You can get online right now and look up how many times Company ABC has been sued. Most jurisdictions have “electronic filing” systems that allow anyone to access court records. But not so with arbitrations. The filings are secret. And so are the proceedings. There is no public trial before a jury. Your “trial” is in a conference room in a law office, no reporters, no gallery watching. And if you win? That’s not public, either.

SB45 also allows the employer to carve out claims they may have against you. For example, if the company wants to enforce a non-compete agreement, they can sue you – IN COURT – if that isn’t in the arbitration agreement. Nice, huh? They can go to court if they want, but not you. Fair?

And here’s the kicker. SB45 says that you as an employee are stuck whether you agree or not. You don’t even have to acknowledge you were given notice of it. You are bound by the arbitration agreement if you are “notified in writing” and show up for work the next day. What does that mean? Well, how many of you have read every page of the employee handbook, or gone online on the company web site?

And even if you did receive notice, and knew about it, it’s not like you can negotiate with the company anyway.

If you live in Missouri, call your Representatives and tell them to vote against SB45. It’s going to be a long year, and I’ll keep you posted on the next bill that comes along – because I’m afraid there will be lots of them.

What Types of Malpractice Can Cause a Birth Injury?

Medical malpractice is a tragic, terrible experience for its victims. Naturally, society places a lot of trust and faith in doctors and similar professionals, and when something goes wrong due to the negligence and/or wrongdoing of your physician, you deserve to be compensated fairly and reasonably. However, when a baby or a mother is injured during birth, it’s critical to understand the specific laws and legal foundations of this tragic occurrence.

Kansas City Quadriplegia Attorneys | Popham Law

If you or a loved one suffered a birth-related injury caused by malpractice, you need to get the best and most experienced medical malpractice attorneys in Missouri. At Popham Law in Kansas City, our attorneys boast extensive knowledge of medical malpractice law, and we bring decades of experience to the table. We’ll always work with you, letting your interests and rights lead our legal strategy.

Don’t hesitate when medical malpractice caused a serious birth injury to the mother or the infant, and call the medical malpractice attorneys at Popham Law today. Free consultations are available by dialing (816) 221-2288 now.

What is Birth-Related Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a legal term that occurs when a doctor, a hospital, or another medical staff acts negligent and fails to use reasonable, acceptable care on a patient. When medical malpractice occurs, the victim is generally able to sue the hospital for damages incurred, which often includes financial compensation for further medical expenses, loss of income from work, loss of future earning capacity, disfiguration or amputation, loss of enjoyment in life, pain and suffering, and more.

Birth-related medical malpractice, however, occurs when a doctor’s negligence causes one of the following:

  • Injury to the mother or child during pregnancy or delivery
  • Wrongful birth – this relates to the parent’s preference to have ended or avoided a pregnancy if they had known about birth defects
  • Wrongful pregnancy – this relates to the parent’s failed attempt to avoid or end a pregnancy

Birth Injuries to the Mother or the Infant

Birth injuries to the mother or the infant are fairly rare, but cases of medical malpractice do happen. If this occurs, the mother or the infant is typically injured during birth. For instance, some examples of this type of malpractice can include:

  • Negligently failing to control the mother’s excessive blood loss after the delivery
  • Negligently failing to monitor the baby’s oxygen intake before and after the delivery
  • A doctor doesn’t use reasonable care and mistakenly decides to deliver a premature baby that suffered brain damage
  • A doctor negligently fails to note a mother’s high blood pressure prior to delivery, and the mother has a seizure during delivery

It is important to note that there are countless other medical malpractice cases. Whether the injury happened to the infant or the mother, or the parents suffered severe emotional injury, the parents must bring a lawsuit as soon as possible.

Speak With the Leading KC Attorneys at Popham Law Today

Birth-related injuries and medical malpractice law can bring about highly complex legal and medical issues, and when filing a lawsuit, remember that you have the burden of proof. In other words, you must show the Missouri courts that the medical professional acted negligently, and the negligent action led to the infant’s or the mother’s injuries. Also, you may need to show that the medical professional’s conduct fell below a generally accepted standard of medical care.

As such, it is essential to get the advice and representation of an experienced and capable Kansas City medical malpractice attorney. To speak with the leading medical malpractice attorneys in Kansas City, give Popham Law a call today at (816) 221-2288.