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Huntington Legal Issues Blog

Former cafeteria worker wins discrimination suit

Many West Virginia employees avoid filing work-related complaints with their employers out of fear of retaliation. Although illegal, workplace discrimination is still an ongoing issue. Unfortunately, those who make valid complaints are often hit the hardest, facing incidents of harassment, discrimination and even wrongful termination.

An out-of-state woman recently won a discrimination case against her former employer. The former cafeteria worker was employed by the same high school that her daughter attended. In her suit, she claimed that her daughter suffered repeated and ongoing instances of sexual harassment from fellow students. Not only were her complaints dismissed, but she was also disciplined. Later, her supervisor gave permission to use her phone at work to check on her daughter, for which she was also disciplined.

Do LGBT parents have equal access to FMLA benefits?

Having or adopting a child is a beautiful, joyous experience for a new parent. When that little one arrives in your home, you want to take off as much time from work as possible to bond with and care for your new family.

This desire is ubiquitous among all parents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. But LGBT couples may face unique issues when it comes to taking time off from work and being treated equally by employers as a new parent.

18-wheelers likely to cause personal injury in accidents

Large tractor trailers are seemingly permanent fixtures on West Virginia interstates and highways. These large vehicles can be quite intimidating, and many drivers are familiar with the frightening sensation of one of these trucks passing by. However, this fear is not irrational, as 18-wheelers can cause serious personal injury and even death.

There is no denying that 18-wheelers are significantly larger than smaller passenger vehicles, but just how big are they? These trucks can weigh up to 30 times more than other motor vehicles and are usually carrying heavy loads. In an accident, they can exert much more force than typical motor vehicles. Combined with a high ground clearance and underride guards that often fail, even a minor accident can turn deadly.

What constitutes "reasonable accommodation?"

The rights of disabled Americans have protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The law has undergone various updates throughout the years, including an update in 1994 stating business owners with a minimum of 15 employees need to abide by the law. 

Part of the ADA involves the employer making reasonable accommodations to ensure disabled employees are still capable of performing their jobs. Many employers wonder what entails "reasonable," and the answer depends on several factors, such as the size of the business and the nature of the worker's disability. There may be an array of changes employers need to make to provide everyone with the tools they need to thrive. 

False marijuana claim could constitute bad faith insurance

Insurance companies are supposed to provide protection during and after difficult events. Whether a car accident causes severe damage or a fire destroys a home, people in West Virginia rely on these companies to take care of their needs. When an insurance company fails to provide its obligated coverage or acts in a manner that might fall outside of its policies, it might be considered a bad faith insurance situation.

An out-of-state couple recently filed suit against Nationwide Insurance Co., claiming that an insurance agent had them wrongfully arrested. On Oct. 5, 2017, an insurance agent was investigating the elderly couple's claim that a tree from their neighbor's property had fallen onto their own. While there, the agent photographed hibiscus plants on the couple's property and sent them to the police, and claimed that the 66-year-old woman and 69-year-old man were running a growing operation for marijuana.

Malfunctioning brakes cause wreck, personal injury

Tractor-trailer companies must provide necessary maintenance to their vehicles. Failing to do so puts everyone on West Virginia roads at risk for serious personal injury. Police believe that faulty brakes contributed to a devastating tractor-trailer accident in which 11 people were injured.

According to police, the tractor-trailer was leaving Interstate 376 when its brakes malfunctioned. The driver was unable to stop, and the 18-wheeler collided into a row of nine waiting cars, sparking a chain reaction. Altogether, 11 people were injured, of which nine treatment at an area hospital. The passengers in the first vehicle that was hit -- two 70-year-old women -- were part of those nine, with one of the women last listed in serious condition.

Do you know what to do if you've been sexually harassed at work?

"Hey, baby, give me a smile." In some situations, that line might be welcome as well-intended encouragement. If it comes from an unwanted source at work, it could be considered sexual harassment. Inappropriate invitations and gifts or incessant hounding to go on a date, even after you've repeatedly said no, could also be harassment.

The issue of sex-based harassment and discrimination in the workplace is something that is top of mind for many people in West Virginia and the rest of the country right now. It's easy to assume that women are the only victims and that men are the only perpetrators, but those with experience in this area of the law know that both genders can sexually harass. The question is do you know what to do about it?

Do LGBT parents have equal access to FMLA benefits?

Having or adopting a child is a beautiful, joyous experience for a new parent. When that little one arrives in your home, you want to take off as much time from work as possible to bond with and care for your new family.

This desire is ubiquitous among all parents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. But LGBT couples may face unique issues when it comes to taking time off from work and being treated equally by employers as a new parent.

Defense agency agreed discrimination happened, denied cause

Virtually all working parents in West Virginia contend with the same, overwhelming issue -- child care. Finding appropriate and affordable child care can be incredibly difficult, but one out-of-state woman thought she found a possible solution when she requested to telecommute once a week. Now, her discrimination lawsuit against the Defense Security Service is advancing in a federal court.

The woman was already working from home every Wednesday prior to the birth of her son. Upon her return to work, she was initially permitted to continue working from home once per week to supplement her child care needs. However, she says all of that changed when a new supervisor was brought in. The new supervisor told her that she was no longer allowed to work from home on Wednesdays, and also denied a request from the employee to return to a previous schedule which allowed her to simply be off on Wednesdays.

Discrimination against attractive people? Science says it happens

Past research has often indicated that physically attractive job candidates in West Virginia are more likely to be selected during the hiring process. However, a new study claims that those findings are not entirely accurate. While those who are considered traditionally attractive might have an easier time finding higher-level jobs, they might also face discrimination when seeking lower-paying positions.

Researchers asked people with managerial experience to participate in their study examining the effects of a person's attractiveness during the hiring process. These participants were shown a photo of a potential candidate along with a list of achievements, then asked if they would consider hiring that candidate for a certain position. If the past studies were to be believed, the seemingly more-attractive candidates would have been more likely to be hired.

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