U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act and the N.C. Wage and Hour Act
May 17th, 2013
Here in the United States, workers’ rights are protected by a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). For the average person, the most important things this law does are:
- guarantee that workers earn a minimum wage;
- create a premium wage rate (or “overtime”) for working more than 40 hours a week;
- regulate child labor.
Of course, as with all laws, the FLSA has many “loopholes,” which are called exemptions. There are dozens of exemptions, and some are so specific that they seem a little ridiculous. For example, some sugar beet workers are exempt from overtime – this means they just get paid straight time for all of the hours they work, even if they work 70 hours in one week. Sugar beets! Who would have thought sugar beet workers needed such specific laws. So yes, the FLSA and its exemptions are that specific at times. At other times, the exemptions are very, very broad and have been interpreted by the courts in lawsuit after lawsuit. (I will post more on the exemptions later.)
Most employees, though, are NOT exempt and ARE protected by the FLSA.
That means most employees in America should be paid fairly for the hours that they work. This is the idea behind the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25/hour. (If you think this is incredibly low, call your representatives in Congress now! There is a bill being considered which would increase the federal minimum wage.)
This also means that most employees in America are owed overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Overtime pay should be your straight time rate plus half of that rate again, commonly called “time and a half.”
Usually, for a private company to be subject to the restrictions of a federal law, the company has to engage in certain kinds of business or be of a certain size or fall within specific qualifications laid out in each law. The same is true for the FLSA. To cover those employers who aren’t covered by the federal law, the North Carolina legislature passed the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (WHA) in 1937, which protected all employees that the federal FLSA did not.
The WHA largely mirrors the FLSA, and the gist is the same: minimum wage protection, overtime premiums, and limits on child labor. The WHA packs every bit as much punch as the FLSA, and ensures what’s important to all of us: Every employer in this state is covered by these wage and hour laws and must abide by certain requirements of either the FLSA or the WHA. But if your employer still cheats you out of money despite these laws, that’s when we can step in and help you fight for your wages.
Jury Awards $6 Million To Families of North Carolina Car Accident Victims
May 16th, 2013
May 16, 2013
Last Friday, a Charlotte, North Carolina, development company was ordered by a Mecklenburg County jury to pay the families of the three victims of a fatal North Carolina Car Accident $6 million in damages.
The case stemmed from a crash that occurred on April 4, 2009, along N.C. 49, just south of Steele Creek. Two motorists were involved in an illegal street race on the highway when one of their vehicles struck another car that was pulling out from Riverpointe Drive. A story from WCNC News explained the impact of the collision killed a 13-year-old passenger in the vehicle that was racing, along with the driver of the other vehicle involved and her 2-year-old daughter.
The families of the victims later filed suit against the development company that maintained traffic signals along roads in the area. They argued that the company was negligent in having not installed a traffic signal at the intersection.
During the ensuing trial, the company claimed it had conducted traffic studies at the site in question that had determined there was no need for a signal. The jury hearing the case disagreed and awarded a total of $3 million to each family for the deaths of their children.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst recognize how traumatic the loss of a loved one in a motor vehicle accident can be. The firm is hopeful the decision helps brings a sense of closure to the tragedy for the families of the victims.
Save Your Heart: Get a Dog
May 10th, 2013
This just in: Owning a dog may reduce your risk of heart disease! This finding was announced by the prestigious American Heart Association (AHA) in a published scientific statement. The precise wording was that owning a dog was “probably associated” with protection from heart disease.
Why? According to an article in The New York Times:
People who own dogs certainly have more reason to get outside and take walks, and studies show that most owners form such close bonds with their pets that being in their presence blunts the owners’ reactions to stress and lowers their heart rate, said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, the head of the committee that wrote the statement.
Studies have shown that dogs decrease the body’s reaction to stress, with a lower heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of adrenaline-like hormones. People who have a dog also tend to report greater amounts of physical activity. They also show slightly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. And, most powerful of all, some research showed that people who had pets of any kind were also more likely to survive heart attacks.
Now, it’s possible that people who are healthier to begin with are more likely to bring a dog into their homes, but that doesn’t seem likely. Plenty of sick people have dogs–it could be argued that dog people are dog people to the bitter end.
Dr. Levine and his colleagues don’t recommend going out and getting a pet simply for its heart benefits–you have to want to have a dog… walk a dog… love a dog. Otherwise, chances are that the pet will do no more good for your health than hanging a photo of a dog on your wall.
But for those of us who do share our homes with pets, this information is an additional reason to pat that furry head.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: Owning a Dog
Woman Awarded North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits After Fall
May 9th, 2013
May 9, 2013
The North Carolina Court of Appeals made a groundbreaking decision recently when they ruled that an employee is entitled to North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits if a work-related accident aggravates a preexisting condition.
The case stems from an accident a worker had while employed in the meat department of a grocery store. The employee was carrying a tray of chicken when she became caught on a shelf and suffered a slip and fall accident.
An article from Risk & Insurance stated the fall resulted in an injury to her right leg that was later diagnosed as a bruise to the bone and a torn meniscus in the knee. The victim applied for workers’ compensation benefits, but the claim was denied after the company argued her injuries were the result of a fall she suffered in her backyard the prior week.
The decision was appealed and the court found in favor of the victim, citing that a doctor’s testimony explained if the injury was pre-existing, the fall the woman suffered at work deteriorated her condition further. Since the injury was complicated by the fall at work and the company had no evidence to the contrary, the court found in favor of the victim and awarded her benefits.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst are aware of how complicated the law surrounding workers’ compensation benefits can be. The firm may be able to help if you have been hurt on-the-job at no fault of your own.
RECALL: DiGiorno and California Pizza Kitchen Frozen Pizzas
May 3rd, 2013
Nestlé USA’s Pizza Division today announced the voluntary recall of select production codes of four different frozen pizzas sold in the U.S. These include:
- California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) Crispy Thin Crust White®, UPC 71921 98745; production codes are 3062525951, 3062525952 and 3063525951.
- California Pizza Kitchen® Limited Edition Grilled Chicken with Cabernet Sauce, UPC 71921 00781; production code is 3059525952.
- DiGiorno® Crispy Flatbread Pizza Tuscan Style Chicken, UPC 71921 02663; production codes are 3057525922 and 3058525921.
- DiGiorno® pizzeria!™ Bianca/White Pizza, UPC 71921 91484; production code is 3068525951.
The voluntary recall is limited to frozen pizzas with these specific production codes, which were distributed nationwide. No other production codes/dates, sizes or varieties of CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN or DIGIORNO pizzas are affected by this recall. The reason for the recall is that the pizza may contain fragments of clear plastic. Nestlé USA is taking this action after a small number of consumers reported that they had found small fragments of plastic on the CPK Crispy Thin Crust White pizza. According to Nestle, this is directly related to a particular lot of spinach they received from one of their suppliers. Although no complaints have been received to date on the other three varieties that used this spinach, they are recalling these additional varieties in an abundance of caution.
Pizzas are already being removed from grocers’ freezers.
Nestlé USA also is reaching out to consumers to ask that they examine their freezer inventory for the specific packages of DIGIORNO and CPK varieties affected by this recall.
To locate the production codes for these specific pizzas, the consumer simply needs to look for a blue or pink rectangular box on one of the side panels of the pizza box. The production code is on the second line of the printed code and is the first ten digits of the number. Consumers should look for the following production codes:
- CPK Crispy Thin Crust White: 3062525951, 3062525952 and 3063525951.
- CPK Limited Edition Grilled Chicken with Cabernet Sauce: 3059525952.
- DiGiorno Crispy Flatbread Pizza Tuscan Style Chicken: 3057525922 and 3058525921.
- DiGiorno pizzeria! Bianca/White Pizza: production code is 3068525951.
Consumers who may have purchased the recalled CPK and DIGIORNO pizzas with the identified production codes should not consume the pizza, but instead should contact Nestlé USA Consumer Services at 800-456-4394 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further instructions. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., E.T. and this Saturday, May 4th from 12 noon – 8 p.m. E.T.. Nestlé will provide a replacement coupon to reporting consumers and also may make arrangements to retrieve the pizza for further examination.
Nestlé USA is dedicated to food quality, and the health and safety of its consumers. For these reasons, the company initiated this recall. They say: ”We apologize to our retail customers and consumers and sincerely regret any inconvenience created by this voluntary product recall.”
Dudley Man Continues Recovery Following North Carolina Truck Accident
May 3rd, 2013
May 2, 2013
A 45-year-old man from Dudley is continuing to recover from injuries he sustained in a North Carolina Truck Accident that occurred more than three months ago.
According to a story from WRAL News, the crash happened on January 31 of this year, along a two-lane highway in rural Wayne County. The victim was clearing a fence line along his farm’s property when he suddenly heard the noise of a tractor-trailer’s breaking system. The truck veered off the road and the trailer fell on top of the victim, pinning him to the ground in a ditch.
Witnesses at the scene of the crash immediately began to try to assist the victim, as the collision had amputated the victim’s right leg, crushed his left leg, and left him with other serious injuries. He was rushed to a local hospital and, luckily, survived the incident, but not without struggle.
Since the incident occurred, the victim has been unable to run his general contracting business and medical bills from the incident continue to mount. He is still unable to put weight on his leg as well. Despite set backs, the victim has a positive outlook on life and says the incident makes him appreciate each day he is alive.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst believe the man and his story to be an inspiration to all those who have been hurt in an accident. The firm would like to wish him a speedy recovery from his injuries.
Honda Recalls Its Smallest Car
May 2nd, 2013
The Honda Fit wasn’t quite fit for sale. This week, Honda announced that it is recalling about 44,000 of its 2012 and 2013 model year Fit Sport cars. The reason has to do with the car’s electronic stability control system, and the fix may be as simple as reprogramming the software.
According to an article in The New York Times:
Electronic stability control systems use sensors and a computer to determine if the vehicle is moving in a direction at odds with what the driver is doing with the steering wheel. The system then applies the brake on single wheels to try and correct the movement.
This type of scenario commonly happens when there is something on the road that affects the tires’ ability to grip, such as when you drive on black ice, or if there is oil or other chemical spillage on the road. But stability control can also kick into gear if you have a tire blow out, or other rare events.
The government has required electronic stability control on most consumer vehicles–all except the true “heavy-duty” trucks. These systems are estimated to reduce the number of single-vehicle accidents by about 34%, and the number of single-vehicle S.U.V. crashes by nearly 60%.
What happened with the Honda Fit Sport is that the car’s stability control system was programmed using one kind of tire–the Bridgestone Turanza. But then some Fit Sports came with Dunlop SP tires, which handle differently. For people who own a Honda Fit with Dunlop tires, a simple software update will recalibrate the stability control system and fix the problem.
One lesson for all of us: If you have a car with an electronic stability control system–and if your car is model year 2011 or later, chances are you do–then make sure you check the specs before purchasing new tires.
Brain Doc Suggests Concussion Prevention
April 29th, 2013
We frequently write blogs about concussion, but Dr. Robert Cantu, neurologist and medical director of the Nation Center for Catastrophic Sports and Injury Research in Boston, has a new set of recommendations for parents and sports coaches.
Because a child’s brain isn’t fully developed, any trauma has the potential to be more damaging than trauma to an adult brain. In addition, Dr. Cantu says children tend to lack the neck strength to reduce the acceleration forces the brain will receive. As a result, he said, children who play youth sports may be at more risk than adults realize.
According to an article from U-T San Diego, Dr. Cantu’s recommends are:
• No heading in soccer until age 14.
• Require chin straps in baseball; ban the headfirst slide.
• No bodychecking in youth hockey before 14.
• No full-contact football until age 14.
• Eliminate head-to-head hitting in Pop Warner (youth football).
• Reduce the contact allowed in football practice.
• Have children perform exercises to strengthen neck muscles.
• Require helmets in field hockey and girls lacrosse.
These guidelines may change the way youth sports are played, but that’s better than having to watch the outcomes of concussions.
For more information about concussions and other traumatic brain injury, visit our dedicated web page at lawmed.com/braininjury/. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
All Concussions Are Not Equal
April 26th, 2013
It seems like it should be common knowledge, but new research has just shown that when children experience concussion–or mild traumatic brain injury–those with more severe symptoms will need a longer amount of time to recover. Mild concussions may heal within 3 to 4 days, but bigger hits may require a month or longer to heal.
Scientist from the Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center examined medical records from 182 children with concussion. They looked for a group of symptoms and rated them on a scale of 0-6. Symptoms included headaches, vomiting, balance problems, changes in sleep patterns, sensitivity to light or noise, fatigue, numbness, visual problems, and difficulty with memory or concentration.
According to study author William Meehan, M.D.: ”Parents, physicians and caregivers of athletes who suffer from a high-degree of symptoms after a sports-related concussion should start preparing for the possibility of a prolonged recovery.”
Most physicians recommend that children who receive a concussion while playing sports shouldn’t return to play until all symptoms resolve. It’s a difficult call to make–coaches may want to put star players back in the game…and the injured child may downplay symptoms so they can return to play more quickly. It’s up to parents, teachers, doctors, and other adults to observe the child and make sure they are confident that the injury has healed entirely before sending the kids back out onto the playing field.
North Carolina Teens Hold Summit To Eliminate Distracted Driving
April 25th, 2013
April 25, 2013
Distracted driving is a major problem on North Carolina’s roadways today. The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates that around 276 residents were injured and two others were killed last year as a result of a North Carolina Car Crash that was caused by the behavior.
Such a high number of accidents leave many residents questioning why distracted driving has become so prevalent. Experts say it is a combination of easy access to technology and learned behaviors. A recent study concluded that teens with parents who drive distracted are four times more likely to be involved in a distracted driving accident themselves.
In an effort to educate the public about these dangers and to help them unlearn this risky behavior, the youth of Johnston County came together to put on the first annual N.C. Teen Drivers Summit.
The event was held this past Saturday and featured several guest speakers who touched on topics like the importance of buckling up and tips to stay focused on the road when driving. An article from The Apex Herald stated each student who was in attendance was also entered into a drawing for $500 scholarships as well.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys with HensonFuerst acknowledge the dangers of distracted driving. The firm asks that each motorist do their part to keep the state’s highways safe by putting phones down and keeping noise to a minimum while driving.