Thursday, March 26, 2009

Employees with lupus could be discriminated

Employees and workers are a necessary fuel to run a company.

Same with other necessary machineries, humans are susceptible to sickness and diseases. When succumb to one, work is affected and productivity suffers. Consequently, the law protects employees in dealing with their medical conditions in the work place.

Lupus could be a medical condition that could deter a person from performing at his peak. It triggers the immune system. The immune system makes auto antibodies that attack the normal body cells.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act require employers to make reasonable accommodations for known physical or mental disabilities of an employee. This means allowing employees to make doctor’s appointments or giving them time off to attend to their medical needs.

A California worker could not be discriminated against simply because he/she he has a recognized medical disability such as lupus. Accordingly, the law gives them the right to file a suit against their employers in case of violation.

Health Options for Laid Off Employees

Having to deal with extra expenses when you are laid off from work is suicide. As costs for sickness are extra expense, does it mean the end for the unemployed worker?

Acknowledging the increasing number of laid-off employees, the stimulus package included a provision concerning medical costs for unemployed workers.
The economic stimulus otherwise known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have the following helpful provisions:

• Employees who were laid from September 1, 2008 and who would be laid off until December 31, 2009 may qualify for a 65% subsidy to pay COBRA.

Those who were involuntary terminated between September 1 and February 16 who did not elect COBRA or are no longer enrolled with it may still avail.

Those who are eligible for the extended COBRA shall be notified by April 18 to inform them of the opportunity. They are given 60 days to elect COBRA.

• Previously, a laid off employee continues health insurance coverage from their former employee for 18 months which is a bit expensive.

Now, only 35% of the COBRA premiums shall be paid for 9 months of said 18 months. With the change, the cost of maintaining an average policy would be $377 per month for a family and $140 for an individual. This would dramatically rise to $1,078 per month for family coverage and $400 per month for individual coverage once the subsidy expires. Consequently, a 300% increase in COBRA enrollees is expected.

Aside from COBRA, laid off employees are given other options. These options include:

1. joining your spouse whose job offers health insurance in her/his plan;

2. checking if your children qualify for any government programs;

3. asking if you are qualified for Medicaid;

4. getting individual plan on private market that covers prescription drugs, out-of-network care or treatment for chronic conditions;

5. considering your out-of-pocket costs and co-payments.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A life for the cost of a fire

Homes are intended to give us security and protection and normally, when we are at our own homes, we feel at ease and often let are guard down. However, we should still practice safety measures, as accidents can happen almost anywhere, even in places that we least expect.

This is the case that happened last Wednesday on a home in the area of San Carlos. One man was killed when his bungalow was caught on fire sparked by a cigarette. Initial investigation showed that the blaze might have started while the man was smoking in bed.

Cases such as this tells us that virtually anywhere we go, danger might also be present and the cost can be devastating. Carefulness should be practiced at all times, as we may never know what may possibly happen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama’s New Law: More Protection from Employment Discrimination

Like every individual, employees have their own rights. And these rights are protected by various employment and labor laws.

Just recently, President Obama signed a new law, the Ledbetter bill. Even though a discrimination case occurred decades earlier, this new law allows employees to file a claim 180 days after they have received their final paycheck, overturning the ruling of the Supreme Court before that an employee has to file a lawsuit within a period of six months after experiencing discrimination.

This bill may probably result in more litigation cases against employers, but this will definitely provide more protection to employees, as discrimination has always been an issue in the workplace, despite the laws that exist.

Let’s just hope that through this bill, the problems regarding employment discrimination will be resolved and that all employees can be treated fairly.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cell phone law update

July 1, 2008 was California’s first day of battling cell phone use while driving.

On that day, two major laws became effective. First, drivers have been required to use hands-free devices while behind the wheel and second, drivers under the age of 18 have been prohibited to use any device, hands-free or not.

As far as text messaging is concerned, effective January 1, 2009, all drivers have been prohibited to send messages while behind the wheel. Otherwise, violators would be fined.

With the implementation of such laws, drivers who have been using cell phones have dramatically decreased. According to a survey, sixty four percent of motorists no longer use their cell phone while driving.

This only meant that California’s battle against cell phone use while driving has been successful. In fact, California has the greater reduction compared to other states such as Washington D.C. and New York.

California is serious in its goal of decreasing vehicle accidents caused by cell phone use. By December 2008, California Highway Patrol handed more than 50,000 citations for cell phone law violations.

However, the main goal has yet to be achieved. Cell phone law had been implemented to reduce cases of accidents primarily due to cell phone use. Decrease in numbers of drivers using cell phone does not equate to decrease in numbers of road related accident.

We have yet to see the outcome. At least for cell phone related accident, we can say that the implementation of cell phone law has been successful. Let us just cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Keeping Children Safe from Train Accidents

Children are naturally curious of their surroundings. They often want to experiment with the things around them. Parents should be there to warn them of the possible accidents that could happen if they would not be careful.

Also, they must be made aware of the dangers involved in walking along railroads whether they are by themselves or with the company of other kids.

Train companies are shouldered with heavier responsibility in caring for the safety of their passengers, pedestrians and motorists as well. This is because they are considered as common couriers along with airlines and bus companies. Railroads should be properly labeled so that everyone would be aware of its existence.

A recent train accident happened to a 13-year-old boy named Stacy Frierson who was running along with his friends in a railroad. Three of his friends got off the track on time as the train came on their direction. The boy died as he was struck by the passing train.

The accident happened near Fruit and Ashlan avenues in Fresno and the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train was moving south. The tragedy could leave trauma to the victim’s friends who witnessed the accident and to his family as well who are receiving counseling.

According to statistics, there is an average of 4,000 listed train accidents in our nation yearly. This huge number should alert parents and train companies who should exert more effort in imposing preventive measures against these accidents.