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Can you fire an employee while they are out on a workers' comp claim?


Can you fire someone while they are out on a Workers’ Comp claim?  Yes….but be careful and cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s before you do!

You can terminate a workers’ comp claimant as long as they are not protected by any other laws.  So before moving forward with the termination you must determine the following:

                Is the claimant protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

                Is the claimant covered under the ADA laws?

                Is the claimant being terminated for any other discriminatory reason?

Now, once you’ve covered all those points you still need to assess the consequences of the termination.

Negative Consequences can include the possibility that a Workers’ comp Commissioner might be more sympathetic toward an unemployed claimant and/or the length a claimant is out of work may exceed the norm due to the fact that they don’t have a job to return to.

Conversely, the positive side is you may be able to terminate a poor-performer/problem employee.

construction risk advisorsRemember, the most important thing is documentation, documentation, documentation!  If you are terminating any employee, claimant or otherwise, make sure you have written records of poor performance evaluations and conversations, documents of attendance abuse, etc.  And we highly recommend you contact your lawyer prior to issuing that termination!

Discrimination Lawsuits are on the Rise


And settlements are reaching record highs.

workplace discriminationThe downturn of the economy affected business in more ways than decreased revenue.  As lay-offs and terminations became the norm, employers didn’t always review or comply with HR laws.  As a result more and more former employees filed discrimination suits.

Seyfath Shaw, a Chicago based law firm, stated that discrimination lawsuits were in the headlines more than any other type of workplace challenge for a company during 2010.  Prior to 2010, wage and hour settlements were breaking records. While discrimination lawsuits took first place in 2010, don’t fool yourself, wage and hour were right behind!

The top 10 private plaintiff employment discrimination class-action suits paid or entered in 2010 totaled $346.4 million!  The largest was the $175 million settlement in Velez vs. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.

The baby boomer generation is the largest part of the workforce to be affected by this downturn of employment, and they have become more aware of the laws and how employers should be dealing with lay-offs and terminations.  The employees, former employees, have become educated and so should employers!

Whether construction, manufacturing, distributors or offices, employers need to educate themselves on the ADA, ADEA and Harassment laws to avoid costly lawsuits!

Construction Company Owners Beware!


connecticut construction insurance, connecticut contractor insurance, contractor controlled insurance programWhile driving through a major Connecticut city recently, I saw a giant billboard labeled, “Truck Accident Counsel”. When I got back to the office I typed in the web address, and saw exactly what I expected, a law firm specializing in truck accidents.

For contractors in Connecticut (and any other company with heavy trucks) the game has changed. Just like in every other area of business, specialization is the order of the day. Unfortunately, you, the Connecticut construction company owner are the target.

More and more,  the deck is stacked against you. There are literally hundreds of state and Federal laws for you to comply with. Now there are attorneys who specialize in understanding those laws and ready to nail you with a large verdict if you’re not in compliance and then cause injuries in an accident.

If you’ve read this blog before, you know we believe strongly in risk management that goes far beyond buying insurance. Do you still think risk management begins and ends with buying the cheapest insurance? If you do, here is one law firm ready to teach you a lesson.

Is your construction company up to date with all the laws and regulations governing the use of commercial vehicles? Is every vehicle in compliance? Are all your drivers properly trained and is safety emphasized every morning as your fleet of truck hits the road?  Do you have written cell phone policies in place?

Learn the laws, commit adequate resources to safety or test your insurance policies in court.  Your choice. Your business may depend on it.

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Upcoming Changes to Employment Law


Just when you thought you had mastered them all, a number of new employment laws are on the table. If voted through you’ll have even more challenges when it comes to tracking various types of leave.

So here are highlights of the possible coming attractions!

confused112408FMLA Enhancement Act

If passed, this bill could expand the current FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) to include leave for attending children’s activities.

Another change could be to give victions of domestic violence FMLA protected leave

Family Leave Insurance Act

Employers could be required to provide 8 weeks of paid leave to employees to care for a sick family member or new child.

 Healthy Families Act

Would require certain employers, who employ 15 or more employees for each working day during 20 or more workweeks a year, to provide a minimum paid sick leave of: (1) seven days annually for those who work at least 30 hours per week; and (2) a prorated annual amount for those who work less than 30 but at least 20 hours a week, or less than 1,500 but at least 1,000 hours per year.

Whether one of these is passed or all of them are, you’ll need to be reviewing your current leave policies, updating employee manuals and re-educating your supervisors and managers.  It looks like the Federal government is going to continue to keep the Human Resource Professionals very, very busy!

Is your employee handbook up do date?  Need a second set of HR eyes to make sure your T's are crossed and your I's are dotted?  Construction Risk Advisors has a full time HR consultant on staff for any and all compliance issues a Connecticut Contractor could face. 

How to Ruin Your Construction Company’s Safety Reputation Overnight


Would Massey Energy have lost twenty-nine workers in a mining accident on April 5th if safety training was a strong cultural value? Would Toyota have recalled 2.3 million vehicles in January of 2010 if safety was of paramount concern in the design of their cars?

I think the answer to both these questions is, "No". These companies were not focused on safety and it cost people their lives.

Google either one of these safety disasters and you'll get tired of hitting the "Next" button after the 10th page. In the short run, and maybe forever, both these companies have seriously tarnished their image. The public thinks company profit was more important than human lives. Who wants to be known for that?

Connecticut Contractors of all types are involved in dangerous work every day. If there was an unfortunate disaster on one of your jobsites, would your safety training practices stand up to the scrutiny of the press? How much would your reputation suffer? How long would you be on OSHA's "hit list"? How well would you be able to document your company's safety practices?

Unfortunately, many Connecticut construction firms don't consider safety training in their strategic plans. Nor do they consider the safety training capabilities of the insurance agent or insurance company they choose each year. Far too often the focus is on price and risk management is ignored.

Who is protecting your company's reputation? Risk management is not about buying cheap insurance. If you have an insurance agent whose only focus is selling you cheap insurance, you've hired the wrong one. Don't wait to see your name in the paper before getting a risk advisor who helps make safety your highest priority.

Lawsuit Madness


Faces of Lawsuit is a project of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. These were the contenders for their 1st Annual Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of the Year Poll:

January - Woman crashes on curve, sues county claiming 10mph speed limit was inadequate warning

February - Customer sues restaurant chain after toilet paper rolls from "unreasonably dangerous toilet paper dispenser" fall onto his hand

March - Illegal immigrants sue rancher who stopped them on his property at gunpoint and turned them over to the Border Patrol

April - Tourist sues New York club after she slipped while dancing on top of the bar

May - Woman microwaves hair removal wax, spills it on herself, and sues manufacturer for "placing such dangerous products into the stream of commerce"

June - Inmate sues to avoid being named world's most litigious person

July - Double-murderer sues to claim his victims' classic Chevy pickup

August - Tourist sues hotel, claiming swimming pool got daughter pregnant

September - Dolphins splash, woman sues

October - Wife kills husband, sues for his pension's survivor benefits

November - Neighbor sues woman for smoking in her own home

December - Holocaust denier sues Auschwitz survivor, alleging memoir contains "fantastical tales"

After reading this I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Where is the public outcry? When are we going to stop lawyers from bringing suits of this sort? What risk management program will work when people take no responsibility for their own behavior?

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