Workers’ Compensation

Employer misconduct: Dangerous Conditions and FLSA Violations

Employer misconduct: Dangerous Conditions and FLSA Violations

Despite the laws that require employers to ensure their employees of a healthy and safe work environment, office injuries still occur due to the reckless or negligent act of many employees and, sometimes, of employers themselves.

Office settings may be free of hazardous substances, sharp tools and heavy equipment, making these safer than construction sites; however, it should not be denied that even these work environments have their own types of dangers that can cause employees injuries. Though most are minor, some are serious enough, like sprain, electrocution, neck, head and/or back injuries, and repetitive strain injuries, which can damage the muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves.

One contributory factor to office injuries is overwork or being required by employers to work longer than their regular shift. This renders employees exhausted and sleepy, besides causing in them lack of needed rest. Worst than being required to work overtime, however, is being denied overtime pay for the extra time that they have rendered.

“A laborer is worth his wage.” This is the clear message of the the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was passed into law in 1938. Also known as the Wages and Hours Bill, the FLSA covers all employees, whether full-time or part-time, and determines the minimum wage and rate of overtime pay.

According to Houston FLSA attorneys at Williams Kherkher, “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) outlines rules employers must follow when paying employees. The FLSA defines what overtime pay is, when employees must be paid an overtime rate, and which employees are eligible for overtime. Unfortunately, many businesses in many different industries routinely make efforts to deny workers the overtime pay they are entitled to. There are various ways employers accomplish this, including but not limited to:

  • Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime pay
  • Miscalculating hours worked,
  • Illegally requiring employees to perform tasks or travel “off the clock”.

Overtime pay, or payment for work rendered by employees in excess of their maximum daily or weekly work shift, is computed separately and given a higher value than regular time pay. Overtime pay is hard-earned money. Many American employees go through the sacrifice of giving up a part of their time for rest or family time to be able to take home a bit higher pay than the usual. For employees who need to send their kid/s to school or who need to pay child support, overtime pay is definitely very important as this can enable or help them accomplish a whole lot of other things for themselves and their kid/s. Thus, being cheated of overtime pay gives employees the legal right to pursue legal action which may help them recover back wages.

Though overtime work can augment an employee’s pay, rendering overtime often can have negatives effects too as this can affect his/her overall job performance and overall health. If health, specifically, is affected, an employee may be more prone to illnesses or injuries at work.

It is a good thing that in the event of sustaining a job-related injury or developing an occupational illness, employees can claim cash benefits from the Workers’ Compensation, a state-mandated Insurance program. As explained by Des Moines workers’ compensation attorneys at the LaMarca Law Group, PC, “Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, most workers who become injured while they are on the job are eligible to claim workers’ comp benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. That being said, if your accident was caused by the negligence of your employer, you are likely to be eligible for immediate financial relief from their workers’ comp provider. However, if you are able to prove that your accident was caused by the gross negligence of your employer, it may also be possible to file a civil claim against your employer.”

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Workers’ Compensation Benefits: Injured Workers can either Claim It or Waive It

In the US, every employee is entitled to compensation in the event that he or she sustains a work-related injury or a job-related illness. This employee right is stipulated in the Workers’ Compensation Law which was approved by the US Congress in 1908.

The law was initially intended to address the rise in the number of workplace injuries, especially in construction sites. Its main aim was to provide injured workers with immediate financial assistance they will need for medical treatment, as well as cover their economic losses due to days of work missed.

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance benefit. It does not consider fault, thus, approval can be granted even if the accident were due to the injured worker’s own act of negligence. It is also never dependent on the financial capability of an employer since the source of compensation is an insurance provider. One condition for recipients of this benefit, though, is that they will have to release their employers from any legal liability for their injury or sickness.

Before the workers’ compensation was passed into law, injured workers had to file a lawsuit against their employers to be able to receive the compensation they badly need. Lawsuits, however, only damaged whatever good relationship existed between the employee and employer; these were also almost always won by employers, who used the following arguments: assumption of risk; the fellow-worker rule; and, contributory negligence.

Workers’ Compensation benefits are often the appropriate means of addressing an injured worker’s needs, however, there are many cases in which an employer’s failure to uphold basic duties to employee safety may instead warrant legal action. Pursuing legal action against one’s employer is possible only if the injured worker waives his or her right to receive Workers’ Comp benefits, though. Often, filing a lawsuit is a more appropriate action because many employers and insurers rather seek to prevent workers from receiving the benefits they need.

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