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Social Media: Should You Use Social Media in an Internal Investigation?

Investigating Employees Through Their Social Media Accounts

Social media can provide a lot of information about people’s lives. Why would an employer want to know what an employee is doing through social media?

An employer may suspect that an employee is doing other things during work that do not relate to his or her job, such as posting on Facebook, watching Youtube videos, etc. An employer may also wonder if the employee is speaking badly about the company or discussing private company information.

Any number of reasons could motivate an employer to pressure an employee for social media account information or to access the employee’s site without permission.

What laws protect the privacy rights of employees?

The American Bar Association warns employers about not violating the Stored Communication Act (SCA). The SCA includes social networking sites when it states that individuals are subject to criminal and civil actions when the individual:

“Intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided”

“Intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility”

(By intentionally accessing) “obtains, alters, or prevents authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such system”

Keep in mind that a government institution may obtain a subpoena for an investigation and through court approval access social networks for information. However, a private company conducting an internal investigation does not have this right.

Employers who obtain access to social media under false pretenses or through duress can be held liable and courts typically do not view favorably attempts to access an employee’s account information or the private account of a “friend.”

However, in some instances where employers obtain the information without asking or pressuring an employee to provide it, the courts have allowed it.

Get Legal Help with Your Questions about Employment Law

It is often wise to seek legal advice when you have questions about accessing an employee’s social media information. Stephen Hans & Associates offers seasoned legal guidance and representation to assist business owners with employment issues.

Stephen D. Hans & Associates

Facts and Answers to Questions About New York City Metropolitan Area Hit and Run Accidents

Hit and Run AccidentsIn December 2015, there were 38,000 hit and run accidents in New York City, according to a NYPD official who testified before the City Council. While the greater majority of accidents involved only property damage, there were 4,000 accidents where drivers left the scene after someone suffered injury, and 48 of those accidents involved serious injury or death. In these latter accidents, the NYPD’s crash investigation squad was alerted to investigate the accidents.

(Source: Politico New York)

Hit and Run Accidents Remain a Serious Problem

Fast-forward to 2018 to a citylimits.org article written in February that indicated Vision Zero is reducing accidents through lower speed limits, safer street designs and greater law enforcement. However, hit and run accidents are on the rise with a 26 percent increase from 36,000 incidents in 2013 to 46,000 incidents in 2017, based on NYPD statistics. More than 5,000 of the 2017 incidents resulted in injury, and 52 people died. Very few of the accidents resulted in arrests.

What Should You Do if You Are the Victim of a Hit and Run Accident?

You should document as much of the incident as you possibly can. Actions you should take if you are involved in a hit and run accident, include:

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Take photos of the car damage and accident scene (if you are able to do so).
  • Write down the color, make and model of the other car and its license number (whenever possible).
  • Get names and contact information from witnesses.
  • File an accident report with the police.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company.
  • Hire an experienced car accident attorney to help you file reports and gather all necessary information regarding the accident.

Your accident lawyer will be able to gather statements from witnesses, analyze evidence from the accident and the firm’s investigative team may be able to track down the hit and run driver.

At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your hit and run accident and evaluate your potential case.

Author: Sacksteinlaw.com

FAQs—Helping Medical Professionals Understand Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers Compensation Attorney-Michael-PyrrosAnswers to Common Questions about Workers’ Compensation

When you are a doctor and have a patient come to you claiming to have been injured on the job, it can be extremely helpful to have a basic understanding of the workers’ compensation laws and process. Here are some frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation that have medical implications.

Q: What are the requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation?

A: In the state of New York, there are only two requirements—you must have been working and you must have suffered an injury while on the job. Workers’ compensation is generally considered to be “no-fault,” meaning that the negligence of the worker doesn’t mean a claim will be denied. There are limited circumstances where a claim may be denied—where the injury was suffered while off duty, was self-inflicted, happened while the employee was violating company policy or while the employee was committing an illegal act.

Q: Must the injury occur on company property?

A: No. Any injury sustained while you were performing the duties of your job will be covered, regardless of where it happened. If your job requires that you travel, you can seek benefits for motor vehicle accident injuries or even for a slip and fall at a customer facility. As a general rule, if you leave company property on a personal errand, you are not covered. However, if your boss asks you to do a work-related task (pick up lunch for the office, etc.) while running a personal errand, you may have coverage.

Q: Does workers’ compensation cover only work-related accidents?

A: No. Any injury or illness that arises out of work conditions may be covered. Accordingly, a person who is exposed to toxic substances on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for any negative health consequences that result. In addition, employees who experience mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, may recover workers’ compensation benefits if it can be shown that the mental health problems were work-related.

Q: What medical expenses are covered by workers’ compensation?

A: Workers’ compensation pays for any “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses resulting from a work-related injury. This can include examinations, checkups, urgent care treatment, hospitalization, surgical treatment, anesthesia and medications.

Results-Oriented Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Queens, New York

At Pyrros & Serres, we bring more than 50 years of combined workers’ compensation experience to injured workers in Queens and across the greater New York City area. We built our practice on personal service and attention, taking the time to learn the details of your case, so that we can take the necessary measures to get the outcome you want. Many of our new cases come to us as referrals from doctors, lawyers and satisfied clients.

We take all types of work-related injury claims, including cases involving:

Occupational Disease or Illness | Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) | Fractures | Hip, Leg, Foot and Toe Injury| Burns | Paralysis | Spinal Cord Injury | Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement | Amputation or Loss of Limb | Hearing or Vision Loss | Back and Neck Injury | Shoulder, Arm, Hand and Finger Injury | Accidental or Wrongful Death

To learn more about the services we provide, see our practice area overview page.

Author:Pyrros & Serres LLP

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys—Queens, New York

Pyrros-Serres-LLP

What Employers Should Know About the New York Women’s Equality Act

Clarifications for Employers for Women in the Workplace

In June of 2014, the Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York signed amendments to the New York State Human Rights Law, which bolstered civil rights for women.

It’s important for employers understand the changes under the Women’s Equality Act so they can abide by the law and avoid discrimination disputes in the workplace.

Womans Equal Rights, NY Equality Act

How does the act affect pay equity?

Women must receive the same pay as men when performing the same work. However, the previous law enabled employers to suspend or terminate employees for discussing their wages with each other. This law prevents employers from firing or suspending employees who discuss wages with each other and also increases the amount in damages an employee can seek if an employer violates the new law.

How did the definition of “employer” change in respect to sexual harassment?

Previously, business owners with four or fewer employees were not considered “employers” under the Human Rights law, and therefore the sexual harassment law did not apply to them. The new law eliminates this distinction, and employees subjected to sexual harassment while working for any size company may file sexual harassment complaints.

Is it lawful to not hire or promote a woman because of her status of being a parent and her familial duties?

The new law prohibits employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations from discriminating against women based on their familial status. They cannot assume that because a women has children or plans to have a family that this fact disqualifies her for hiring or job promotion.

What changes were included in the act that affects pregnancy discrimination?

Employers are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women, due to the fact that certain pregnancies involve medical conditions. The previous law was confusing and often was wrongly interpreted. The new act clarified employers’ responsibilities to perform a reasonable analysis for pregnant employees.

Do You Have Questions about Women’s Rights in the Workplace?

Our attorneys are glad to answer your questions and address your concerns.

Author: Stephen Hans & Associates

HOW DOES THE NEW YORK COMPASSIONATE CARE ACT AFFECT EMPLOYERS?

medical marijuana prescriptionThe New York Compassionate Care Act (NYCCA) protects patients who are certified to use medical marijuana from being subject to criminal or civil marijuana charges. We live in an age where some states view marijuana as a legitimate medicine for individuals with certain types of diseases while they are being treated under a doctor’s care. Individuals with such diseases are also viewed as disabled, and employers are prohibited from discriminating against them because of their disability based on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

What Employers Should Know About the New York Compassionate Care Act (NYCCA)

The New York legislature passed the NYCCA in July of 2014 and it went into effect in January 2016. The act will sunset in seven years.

Under the law, there can be no more than five manufacturers that provide medical marijuana in New York with a maximum of 20 locations.

Patients must have their physician provide them with written certification for using medical marijuana and their documentation must state the limitations of its use. They also must register with the health department. Patients may not consume medical marijuana in a public place. Other restrictions imposed by the law are that patients cannot smoke medical cannabis but have to take it in a different form.

Diseases that qualify a patient for certification include cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage causing spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, or Huntington’s disease. Other diseases may also result in prescribing medical marijuana.

New York State Human Rights Law

The Society for Resource Management (SHRM) points out that the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) views a certified medical marijuana patient as disabled, which also protects them from employment discrimination.

Employers can still do drug testing if that is part of their work policy and can prohibit employees who are impaired by drug use from working on the job if it poses a danger or interferes with their work. They can prohibit workers from taking medical marijuana while in the workplace. However, they cannot discriminate against employees because they are certified to use medical marijuana.

Do You Have Questions about the NYCCA and Your Rights as an Employer?

Because disabled employees who are certified for marijuana use can bring discrimination lawsuits against employers, it is vital for employers to know their legal boundaries.

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates  are glad to answer your questions and provide legal guidance or representation in disputed employment issues.

 Author:

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