Category Archives: employment law

Is it Illegal to Discriminate Against Me on the Job Because of My Accent?

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Contrary to popular opinion, many immigrants work in professional and white-collar jobs. The explosive growth of immigration to the United States means that more immigrants will work in white-collar jobs in the United States. Since white collar jobs often require verbal communication, immigrants employed in white-collar professions and their employers will increasingly face the question of whether it is legal to discriminate on the basis of accent. 

Most federal and state courts that have addressed the issue believe that it is illegal for employees to discriminate based on accent if that discrimination is tied to nationality. Courts have even gone so far as to state that nationality and accent are intertwined, which means that they take such discrimination seriously. However, courts understand that employers have an interest in clear verbal communication. So what steps should you take if you think you are being discriminated against because of your accent? 

  1. Apply for a promotion for which you are qualified: Discrimination is only actionable if the company takes some action against you. One so-called adverse action is a failure to promote. If you are a trusted and valued employee, a company will often give you a reason why you were not promoted. If this reason is related to your accent, you can often get a decision maker to say as much. Legally, this is considered direct evidence of discrimination.
  2. If possible, reach out to other foreign-born employees in your workplace: If other foreign-born employees are being discriminated against for the same or similar reasons, it makes sense to work with them, as it can show a pattern by the employer. Also, when employees work together to fight discrimination, they are not just protected by civil rights laws, but they are also protected under the National Labor Relations Act.
  3. If possible, contact an employment attorney in your area before you decide to take action:  Every situation is different, and laws vary from state to state. A lawyer can give you tips about how to potentially build a case, can give you advice about actions and tactics to avoid, and can advise you about any legal deadlines that might apply to your potential case.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in employment law and tagged , , , , .

Pregnant Workers Should Get Workers’ Compensation If They Have a Claim

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pregnany at wrokA new law went into effect during 2015 in Nebraska that requires employers of 15 or more employees to accommodate pregnant workers on the job. This is a significant change that affects working women by expanding workplace protections for those who become pregnant.

Nebraska’s protections for pregnant employees go beyond even the standards for pregnancy discrimination under federal law. The new law also protects women with post-childbirth medical conditions and women who choose to breastfeed or pump.

This law means that pregnant women in Nebraska will be able stay on the job longer and will have an easier time returning to work.

This accommodation includes obtaining “equipment for sitting, more frequent or longer breaks, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring, light-duty assignments, modified work schedules, temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work, time off to recover from childbirth, or break time and appropriate facilities for breastfeeding or expressing breastmilk.” Nebraska Revised Statute 48-1102 (11)

These changes outlaw discrimination against a pregnant woman with respect to hiring, advancement, discharge, training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. These protections extend to a pregnant employee before, during and after a pregnancy.

Unfortunately, pregnancy doesn’t mean that women can avoid work injuries, especially in female-dominated fields like nursing and human-services support. Sometimes employers and/or insurers will attempt to use the excuse that since an employee is going to be out because of pregnancy that they do not have to pay temporary disability benefits to an injured worker who is suffering from a work injury.

But when an occupational or work injury and a non-occupational injury, combine to cause disability, employers still have to pay those disability benefits. Nebraska’s new law on pregnancy doesn’t change that fact. If anything, smart and ethical employers will attempt to accommodate injured pregnant employees in legitimate light-duty jobs so they do not have to pay disability benefits.

In addition, when a pregnant employee is injured on the job and is receiving workers’ compensation benefits and later is ordered by her physician not to perform certain work activities or is in need of bed rest due to the pregnancy, an injured and pregnant employee’s workers’ compensation benefits cannot be reduced or suspended on account of the pregnancy in both Nebraska and Iowa.

However, not all employers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers understand or follow the law. If you are injured and not receiving workers’ compensation benefits because your employer says that they could accommodate your job but for you being pregnant, you need to call a firm that handles both discrimination and workers’ compensation law. You should also call an employment lawyer if you are pregnant and being forced to take unpaid leave rather than having your job duties modified or changed.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Employment, employment law, Health, Nebraska, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , .

Rise of Online Shopping Bodes for More Dangerous Holiday Jobs

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X2_warehouseThe business press has trumpeted the fact that online sales outpaced in-store sales over the post-Thanksgiving weekend. A less-reported fact is that more temporary holiday jobs have shifted from in-store retail sales to more warehousing and transportation jobs that are more dangerous. This is especially true in the wintertime, when delivery drivers in many parts of the country are exposed to hazards from slippery surfaces and also to cold weather. 

Adding to the risk of transportation jobs is the fact that many transportation companies attempt to define their drivers as independent contractors, which means drivers would bear the cost of work injuries. Major holiday employer FedEx recently had to pay a $228 million settlement for misclassifying their delivery drivers as independent contractors. Similar arguments have been made against Uber, who is now attempting to compete with FedEx in the delivery business.

The mere fact that you signed an agreement where you agreed to be an independent contractor doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an independent contractor, but it could affect your ability to collect some employment benefits, like workers’ compensation benefits. If you are hurt as an independent contractor, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in your state, as laws are state specific. If you believe you are not being paid for breaks, overtime or even being paid the minimum wage as an independent contractor, then contact an experienced employment attorney as there are both federal and state laws that protect employees who are misclassified as independent contractors.

Employee misclassification adds another layer of risk for employees who hold second jobs over the holidays or any other time of the year. True independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation, but many, if not most, temporary holiday jobs would not qualify for independent-contractor status. Workers’ compensation was never designed to compensate people for pain and suffering, but in the case of those injured on lower-paid holiday or second jobs, workers’ compensation benefits may not even remotely pay you for how an injury affects your ability to earn a living. Be sure to weigh the risks of taking a holiday job or any second job.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in employment law, Independent Contractor, Misclassification, Safety violations, Work Injury, workplace accidents, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , .

Companies Must Understand: Labor is About More Than Just Jobs

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Today’s post was shared by U.S. Labor Department and comes from blog.dol.gov

National Apprenticeship Week was earlier this month. Do you know someone who has been an apprentice or who has a technical job and taken a different path than a four-year degree to get there? What do you do to stay on top of the technology changes in your industry? Does your industry rely on technology, and how has your job changed over the time you have been working due to technology?

People should expect to have a number of jobs throughout their work life and even may have numerous careers. Learning the skills to be flexible and continue to learn is essential, and this is one reason that apprenticeships are so appealing. But they definitely must be paid. In addition, most apprenticeships hopefully will lead to full-time jobs with full-time benefits.

I just hope that in programs like the one Nestle highlights in the blog post that worker and workplace safety in the company culture is right up there with skill building as far as priorities taught to apprentices.

NiM-FBL_Apprenticeship-02

Every day, Americans are encountering new technologies that would have been unthinkable a generation ago. From smartphones to the notion of recreational space travel, it can sometimes feel like we’re running on a technology treadmill.

The challenge, of course, is keeping up.

In the world of manufacturing, incredible advances fueled by technological innovations have remade industry in large and small ways, leaving a “middle-skills gap” — in essence, technology has outpaced our workforce. Yet this gap is also an opening for companies to help 21st-century workers keep pace with the treadmill. This issue will certainly be front and center during this presidential campaign cycle, and National Apprenticeship Week — starting Nov. 2 — provides a sound moment for businesses to ask: Are we helping our employees keep pace — for us and for them?

At Nestlé, the technology and skills needed vary from plant to plant, from product to product. The processes and production lines are altogether different, depending on whether we’re making baby food or ice cream, pet food or coffee. The more diverse a business’s portfolio, the more diverse its workforce needs to be.

That’s why Nestlé and companies like ours are creating new paths of opportunities for workers around the globe. In the United States, that means ramping up the number of apprenticeships, creating rich internships and conducting instructive traditional and…[Click here to see the rest of this post]

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Employee Misclassification, Employment, employment law, Unemployment and tagged , , .

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Appreciating Workers and Stores Closed on Holiday

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thanksgiving.jpegWhat are your plans later in the week? Will you gather with family, friends, and loved ones? And do you plan to go shopping? Or do you have to work and just hope, like many truck drivers, that you’ll get a warm meal that may or may not involve turkey on Thursday?

I want to thank everyone who doesn’t have a choice in the matter and who will be working on Thursday, including first responders, health care workers, truckers and retail workers. I also want to provide a few links to online articles I found that list stores that have chosen to be closed on Thanksgiving so these employees can be with their loved ones, whether friends or family. Each list is slightly different, and I realize that there are different stores in Iowa and Nebraska, too, so that’s why there are three links.

In addition, if you plan to do some shopping on Black Friday, please take note of this OSHA FactSheet resource regarding crowd management safety guidelines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Twitter feed.

Also note that the offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers will close at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The offices will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 26, and Friday, Nov. 27, for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will be open again at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 30.

We are thankful for so much. At this time of reflection, we are especially thankful for family, friends, and the opportunity to advocate for clients who make our work worthwhile. Happy Thanksgiving!

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Employment, employment law, Holiday, Iowa, Nebraska, OSHA and tagged , , , .

Five Ways Employees Can Navigate the Hassle of Temporary Partial Disability

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returnToWorkReturn-to-work issues seem to involve the blind leading the blind, even in the best circumstances. Doctors, especially general practitioners, are unsure what exact work restrictions are needed for an injured employee. Employers may not always have a good idea, assuming they are acting in good faith, what the requirements for the job are as well.

This can be further complicated if an employee attempts to come back to work part time from temporary disability. Not only do you have to navigate the issues of whether the job is appropriate, but you also have to deal with how much you get paid for what is called temporary partial disability.

What is temporary partial disability?

Temporary partial disability represents two-thirds of the difference between what you are making and your pre-injury average weekly wage. Though this seems simple in theory, it can be complicated for many reasons. Here are five things that employees can do to ensure they are being paid the proper amount of temporary partial disability:

  1. Keep track of your pay stubs: Temporary partial disability is difference between your pay and your average weekly wage. So you need to know your pay in order to determine that amount. Sure employers can do this, but sometimes employers, especially if they are self-insured, have incentive to drag their feet. Also, many companies will outsource their payroll so that information may not be readily available to them. The best solution is to have that information on hand yourself. Having your pay stub will also allow you to know your pay period, which is also important.
  2. Keep track of your hours on daily basis and/or get a copy of time card: Temporary disability is usually paid weekly. Many employers will pay every other week. The pay periods between your paycheck and your disability check might also vary. Sometimes checks will get delayed because an insurance company legitimately has to investigate what benefits have to be paid for one week. You can simplify this for them by providing your time card. The U.S. Department of Labor has a good app for this that you might want to use that tracks hours worked.
  3. If your job is too hard to do physically, make a doctor’s appointment right away to see if you can get your restrictions changed: Delaying a visit to the doctor may not only damage your health; it can also cost you money. An employer can attempt to deny and delay payment between the time where you stopped working at a “light duty” job and when a doctor took you off work and you start receiving temporary total disability again. You may not be able to recover this money, short of going to court, but you do have some control over keeping these gap periods as short as possible.
  4. Turn in your time cards and time sheets to your workers’ compensation attorney or insurer: Don’t assume that your employer is turning over your hours to their workers’ compensation insurer. Be sure that you (or your lawyer) are turning in that information to ensure prompt and full payment.
  5. Make sure that you know your average weekly wage: Workers’ compensation benefits are generally some percentage of your average pay over a time period. Employers will often turn over this information to their workers’ compensation insurer for them to determine how much you should be paid. If you think you are getting shorted, ask the insurer for the basis of their calculations and run it by an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in your state or the state where your claim has been filed.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Disability, Employment, employment law, Health, Injury Reporting, social security disability and tagged , , , .

Workplace Flexibility: Good For You and Your Employees

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Today’s post was shared by the U.S. Labor Department and comes from www.huffingtonpost.com

Even though National Work and Families Month was in October, I think this topic is a good discussion to encourage employers and business owners to consider anytime during the year. As we have discussed in the past, not everyone has the luxury of benefits at their jobs. But benefits can be an extremely important part of the overall compensation package, including paid sick leave and workplace flexibility. As is evidenced below, employers can also reap great benefits from providing such flexibility, especially when it comes to increased worker loyalty and productivity. That includes offering schedules that are concrete for workers so they don’t have to “choose between … job or … family.” In addition, there are definitely benefits of goodwill and there might even be cost savings when a person, regardless of job, stays home when sick, instead of passing the illness around the workplace and other workers taking that illness home to loved ones. Another example is for anyone who drives for work. A sickness on the road and working while sick could very quickly become an employer’s safety issue that could endanger both the employee and the general public, if being forced to work led to an accident.

A March 2014 article by Bryce Covert discusses the reality of what paid sick leave (and I would argue workplace flexibility) did in one state, in addition to humanizing service-sector workers and spreading caregiver tasks out over more family members. Researchers Eileen Appelbaum and Ruth Milkman from the Center for Economic and Policy Research surveyed Connecticut employers and “they found that ‘everything they were worried about, that workers would take all the time available, employees would abuse it, did not happen,’ she said.”

“Only 11 percent of Connecticut’s businesses had costs increase by 3 percent or more, their study found, while about two-thirds said there was either no cost or a small one. The vast majority said there were no cases of abuse. In fact, while the law provides workers with five paid sick days a year, on average they use just four. Half of them used three days or fewer, and a third didn’t take any at all. ‘It’s not that you give workers a paid sick day and they run out and use every single one,’ Appelbaum noted. ‘From the point of view of employees, these paid sick days are a form of insurance,’ and workers hold on to them in case they need them in the future.”

Because as you should read below, regardless of the size or type of business, in the long run, workplace flexibility can be very good for business.

 

Kimmich-1024x768Small business owners know that things don’t always go as planned, and the same is true for their employees. Even the family responsibilities that we can plan for sometimes require a balancing act: nearly two-thirds of American women with a 1-year-old child are in the labor force, and approximately 16.8 million adults over 55 years of age provide unpaid care for elderly loved ones. That’s why workplace flexibility policies that allow employees to balance the demands of work and home are vitally important − especially paid sick days, paid parental leave and flexible scheduling.

These policies also give employers a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent, increase employee creativity, increase productivity, increase profitability, and boost employee morale.

Many large companies have made headlines when offering workplace flexibility policies (Netflix, Google and Microsoft to name a few), but flexible workplace policies are good for small businesses, too.

During National Work and Families Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Labor Department are supporting businesses’ efforts to make the country’s workplaces more fair and family-friendly by creating a Workplace Flexibility Toolkit. It’s full of helpful tips and ideas to help small businesses implement smart workplace flexibility policies.

Small businesses all over the country already are reaping the benefits of such policies:

“Years ago my husband, John, and I decided to offer…

[Click here to see the rest of this post]

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in employment law, Reforms, U.S. Department of Labor, worker rights, Working from Home and tagged , , , , , .

Insensitive? Yes. Crabby? Yes. Illegal Discrimination? Probably Not.

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Advertisement from the McCook, Nebraska, newspaper via Michael Schwanke’s Facebook page

KWCH (Wichita, Kansas) television reporter Michael Schwanke posted a help-wanted ad from a McCook, Nebraska, auto-glass shop on his Facebook page that has gone viral on social media and brings up some basic truths about employment law. Here is the meme:

The overarching theme here is that regular and reliable attendance and a good attitude are essential job functions for this particular job, as they are for most jobs. Do some of these requirements seem unlawful? Maybe on their face, but they probably aren’t when you do the analysis. Here are few that might raise red flags and why they probably aren’t illegal.

Have no baby sitter every day” Yes, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of being a parent. However, most jobs require reliable and regular attendance. Sure, problems with child care can be reasonably expected, but if it becomes a pattern and it disrupts work, then it is a legitimate reason for termination.

“Have court often” There is a move to limit the use of criminal background checks in order to help ex-felons get hired, so maybe this looks bad. But again, “have court often” means that you are currently involved with the court system. If current legal issues keep you away from work too often, that could be a reason for termination. I believe that criminal background checks in employment often disproportionately affect minorities. However, barring any expression of animus against a particular race or nationality, the desire to not have your employees miss work often because of court appearances is a legitimate concern of a business owner.

“Oversleep” Sometimes medical conditions and the side effects of medications can make it difficult to wake up. Assuming your employer is covered by disability-discrimination laws, a situation like that would be covered. But again, if your job actually requires you to be present and working at a certain time and you can’t reliably meet that requirement, then your employer has a reason to fire you.

A review of the comments on the Facebook posting showed that most of the commenters were sympathetic with the employer. Regardless of what I think about those comments as an employee advocate, people with those types of attitudes and feelings are going to be the ultimate deciders of whether an employer wrongfully terminated or otherwise violated the rights of a client of mine. So if you are terminated for a reason you think was wrong or otherwise mistreated by an employer, make sure that you did your best to fulfill your duties as an employee – especially in regards to attendance.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Employment, employment law, Harassment, Wrongful Termination and tagged , , , , .