Retaliation for Blowing the Whistle

Many state and federal laws are intended to regulate businesses and places of employment, in order to promote consumer and employee safety.  However, certain employers nonetheless violate these laws, and it is only because courageous employees expose this activity that this conduct is brought to light.  These Good Samaritan employees who decide to “blow the whistle” on their employers take great risks in coming forward.  Illinois law protects employee whistleblowers when they reasonably believe that their employers are violating a state or federal law, and has enacted the Illinois Whistleblower Act (“IWA”), 740 ILCS 174/ to afford certain protections to whistle-blowing employees.

88_whistleblowerThe most important purpose behind the IWA is to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. The IWA recognizes that whistleblowers often have a target on their backs once the employers find out that the employee has complained to the government or a state agency about the employer’s illegal conduct. Employers often retaliate against whistleblowers by, for example, cutting the employee’s hours, issuing written disciplinary notices, assigning more difficult or less desirable job assignments, or terminating the employee. Such retaliation in response to an employee’s whistleblowing activities is strictly prohibited by the IWA and the employee may have a viable whistleblower case against his or her employer.

If you are or have been retaliated against by your employer for “blowing the whistle” about your employer’s wrongful conduct, you may be entitled to damages under the Illinois Whistleblower Act.  Please contact our office at 312-357-1431 for a free consultation.

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Sexual Harassment on the Job

29-11-2011We are frequently contacted by individuals who describe inappropriate and often vulgar conduct that they have experienced at work.  They inquire as to whether we believe they have a valid claim for sexual harassment.  In many instances, we have to advise them that we cannot assist them, despite the fact they have experienced highly offensive conduct at their job.  Here is why.

Generally, prevailing in a case for sexual harassment rarely hinges on whether the conduct experienced by the employee qualifies as sexual harassment.  Often, that is obvious, and in many instances the employee has corroborating witnesses, or emails, photographs, screen shots or other written evidence of the wrongful conduct.  Instead, the reason why an employee may not prevail in a case of sexual harassment involves an issue employers are increasingly very skilled at arguing:  the harasser was not the victim’s “supervisor.” In Illinois, the term “supervisor” is not simply the person with the authority to oversee aspects of another’s job performance, or tell an employee what to do.  Instead, “supervisor” is narrowly defined as those employees who have the power to directly affect the terms and conditions of an individual’s employment.

That is not to say that the sex harassment victim will not prevail just because the harasser is a co-worker.  If the harasser is not deemed to be the victim’s “supervisor,” then additional burdens are placed upon the victim in order to prevail in a case of sexual harassment.  An employer may be held responsible for co-worker on co-worker harassment “only if the employer knew or should have known about the coworker’s acts of harassment and fails to take appropriate remedial action.” McKenzie v. Illinois Dept. of Transp., 92 F.3d 473, 480 (7th Cir.1996).  In other words, the victim has the burden of proving that she provided notice to the company and allowed the company time to take action that the addresses the harassment.

The attorneys at the Law Office of Jeffrey Friedman, P.C. are experienced in responding to the arguments made by companies in defending the actions of their employees who have engaged in sexual harassment.  If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment at your job, please contact our office at 312-357-1431 for a free consultation.

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Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

The Bronx, New York. 7/23/08. At Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale Jane Gross visits the nursing home where her mother died on the anniversary of her death . this frame: patients watching television, stereotypical view of life at nursing home. slug: nursing homes Id # 30065678A. Photograph by Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times.

Getting older is a fact of life, and for many, nursing homes eventually become their new homes. And while living in a nursing home might be as inevitable as aging, you can take certain measures to ensure that all reasonable safeguards are in place at the nursing home and that you are getting reasonable and adequate care.

Nursing homes in Illinois are regulated by the Nursing Home Care Act (210 ILCS 45/1-101, et seq.) and the Illinois Administrative Code (42 CFR §483).  If a nursing home or those who work there violate these regulations and standards causing harm to a resident, then the victim or their family may wish to consider exercising their legal rights.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act defines “abuse” as “any physical or mental injury or sexual assault inflicted on a resident other than that by accidental means in a facility.”  (210 ILCS 45/1-103). “Neglect” is defined as “a failure in a facility to provide adequate medical or personal care or maintenance, which failure results in physical or mental injury to a resident or in the deterioration of a resident’s physical or mental condition.” (210 ILCS 45/1-117).

Unfortunately, nursing home residents are all too often victims of abuse or neglect, and as such, may have meritorious cases against the nursing home. For example, Nursing homes may fail to develop and implement a comprehensive care plan to address the resident’s medical, nursing, mental and psychosocial needs, or fail to take all necessary measures to prevent falls, pressure sores, malnutrition, dehydration, and contractures.

While getting old is a natural part of life, nursing home neglect is not. It is important to understand that bed sores are not a part of the natural aging process. If a resident develops pressure sores at a nursing home, it may be because the nursing home staff did not adequately and reasonably monitor and turn the resident. Additionally, a resident’s significant weight loss while at the nursing home may be a sign of malnutrition and/or dehydration.  Malnutrition and dehydration may also weaken the body and immune system, which makes it even harder to prevent or heal bed sores.  Finally, it goes without saying that not all falls that occur at a nursing home are “accidental.”

Recently, the Law Office of Jeffrey Friedman, P.C. represented the estate of an elderly woman who died as a result of alleged nursing home neglect.  The neglect consisted of malnutrition, dehydration, failure to treat and prevent bed sores, failure to treat and prevent contractures, and failure to reasonably and timely implement tube feeding.  Our office negotiated a confidential settlement with the nursing home on behalf of the family.

If you believe that you or a loved one are or have been a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, please feel free to call our office at 312-357-1431 for a free consultation.

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Insurer Pays off Lawsuit With Thousands in Coins

By ROBERT JABLON Associated Press
Associated Press

An insurance company settled a lawsuit with a Los Angeles man by dropping off buckets full of thousands of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies, his attorney said Wednesday.

Andres Carrasco, 76, filed a lawsuit in 2012 against Adriana’s Insurance Services, a Rancho Cucamonga-based company.

The East Los Angeles man alleged that during an argument over why the company had cancelled his auto insurance, an agent assaulted him by physically removing him from the office.

The company reached a settlement in June and last week delivered partial payment in the form of a check, but also tried to leave buckets of loose change in his lawyer’s East Los Angeles office, attorney Antonio Gallo said.

Gallo said he refused to accept the delivery because he couldn’t verify the amount in the buckets. But, he said, the cash was left the next day when he was at court.

Insurer Pays off Lawsuit With Thousands in Coins

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Lawyer’s suspension includes lifetime ban on representing women

CB054358By Debra Cassens Weiss

A Connecticut lawyer has been suspended for four months and barred from representing female clients for the rest of his career after he was accused of representing women in family law and domestic-violence cases in violation of a 2010 court order.

The disciplinary counsel had initially sought disbarment for lawyer Ira Mayo, alleging he had violated the court order at least 11 times, the Connecticut Law Tribune reports. Mayo agreed to the suspension and ban on representing women to resolve the disciplinary complaint.

Mayo was accused in two prior ethics cases, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune. In the first he was suspended for 15 months after he was accused of making unwanted advances to female clients referred to him by a group for abused women, the story says. In the second, he was banned from representing women in family law or domestic violence cases after he was accused of offering to waive attorney fees in exchange for a massage.

Lawyer’s suspension includes lifetime ban on representing women

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How corporations became people you can’t sue.

CaptureBy Lina Khan

Late last year a massive data hack at Target exposed as many as 110 million consumers around the country to identity theft and fraud. As details of its lax computer security oversight came to light, customers whose passwords and credit card numbers had been stolen banded together to file dozens of class-action lawsuits against the mega-chain-store company. A judge presiding over a consolidated suit will now sort out how much damage was done and how much Target may owe the victims of its negligence. As the case proceeds, documents and testimony pertaining to how the breach occurred will become part of the public record.

All this may seem like an archetypical story of our times, combining corporate misconduct, cyber-crime, and high-stakes litigation. But for those who follow the cutting edge of corporate law, a central part of this saga is almost antiquarian: the part where Target must actually face its accusers in court and the public gets to know what went awry and whether justice gets done.

Two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings—AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion and American Express v. Italian Colors—have deeply undercut these centuries-old public rights, by empowering businesses to avoid any threat of private lawsuits or class actions. The decisions culminate a thirty-year trend during which the judiciary, including initially some prominent liberal jurists, has moved to eliminate courts as a means for ordinary Americans to uphold their rights against companies. The result is a world where corporations can evade accountability and effectively skirt swaths of law, pushing their growing power over their consumers and employees past a tipping point.

How corporations became people you can’t sue.

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Lawsuit says SIU student killed by someone who gave him ride

By Adam Sege, Tribune reporter

The mother of a Southern Illinois University student found dead in February alleges in a lawsuit that the 19-year-old was beaten to death by someone who had given him a ride after a party.

Pravin Varughese was found dead in a wooded area near Carbondale on Feb. 18, six days after he was last seen leaving the party about three miles away, according to authorities.

An autopsy by the Jackson County coroner’s office concluded that Varughese died of hypothermia, with no evidence of foul play. But in a second autopsy commissioned by the student’s family, an independent forensic pathologist found evidence of four different blows to the face and head.

According to the lawsuit filed today, on the night Varughese went missing, an Illinois State Police trooper stopped to talk with a driver in the area where the student’s body was later found.

Lawsuit says SIU student killed by someone who gave him ride

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Pizzeria owner wins millions in unusual lawsuit against village

Mount Prospect has agreed to a $6.5 million settlement that will end an unusual lawsuit filed by a restaurant owner who sued the village using a federal law more commonly used to bust organized crime.
1928

The village board on Tuesday night approved the settlement with the owner of Ye Olde Town Inn, Tod Curtis, who has run the pizzeria for more than 40 years, said one of his lawyers, Riccardo DiMonte. Under the agreement, the village and its insurer will pay $6.5 million, $2 million of which will go toward attorney fees and legal costs. The village will pay $439,002 and an insurer will cover the rest, according to the agreement.

Curtis’ lawsuit was noteworthy because he cited federal civil racketeering law in 2008 as he accused village officials and a local developer of trying to force him out of his downtown business to make way for a new development project. The lawsuit alleged the village and Oz Development LLC collaborated to try to push him out, violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, known as RICO.

 Pizzeria owner wins millions in unusual lawsuit against village

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Chicago lawyer faces sanctions for suit against Malaysia Airlines

By Steve Schmadeke

A Chicago aviation lawyer who made international news when she filed the first court action shortly after a Malaysia Airlines jet vanished earlier this year now faces sanctions from Illinois’ attorney disciplinary agency for filing the allegedly frivolous case.

Monica Kelly held a heavily publicized news conference in Kuala Lumpur in March to announce she’d filed a petition alleging that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had experienced a catastrophic mechanical failure before plunging into the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 passengers and crew on board.

A complaint made public Tuesday by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission alleged that the claims “had no basis in fact and were frivolous” because Kelly had no evidence of a mechanical malfunction on the still-missing Boeing 777.

Chicago lawyer faces sanctions for suit against Malaysia Airlines

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Chicago cop wins $540K suit against sergeant accused of taunting him

Retired Chicago Police Sgt. Lawrence C. Knasiak was twice commended by the city council for his “dedication, professionalism and personal sacrifice” during a nearly 30-year career with the department.

Apparently that sense of civic duty didn’t extend to cops he supervised, including a Jewish officer Knasiak allegedly called a “bloodsucking parasite,” the Sun-Times is reporting.

On Monday, a federal jury awarded $540,000 to that officer, who was supervised by Knasiak in a Southwest Side police district from 2000 to 2007.

Chicago cop wins $540K suit against sergeant accused of taunting him

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