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The Dram Shop Act

The Dram Shop Act

In lieu of the recent case against Tiger Woods, we thought it would be beneficial to explain the Dram Shop Act. Who is responsible when an accident or injury occurs because of someone being intoxicated?

Federal statistics & data show deaths caused by drunk drivers have dropped significantly in last 30 years, however, the phenomenon still occurs far too frequently.

In Indiana, when a drunk driver injures or kills a person, the bar or person that served the driver might share responsibility for the event. Under what is known as the Dram Shop Act, giving alcohol to a visibly drunk person can cause civil liability.

Now, the bar or person must possess or control the beverage and actually serve the alcohol. In addition, the person serving the alcohol must possess actual knowledge that the recipient was drunk at the time the beverage was provided. So, many times it is important to determine how much alcohol the person drank, over a certain time period as well as whether the person showed signs of intoxication like slurred speech or strange behavior.

If you have questions, an attorney can help sort through the issues to determine if these factors in the Dram Shop Act apply.

Please feel free to contact Goodin Abernathy.

What happens after I file a Charge with the EEOC?

What happens after I file a Charge with the EEOC?

Once the Charge is filed, it is sent to your employer, and they are given an opportunity to investigate the allegations and file a response. The employer may conduct the investigation internally, or, they may choose to hire an outside attorney to investigate the allegations in your Charge. The employer’s response is referred to as their “Position Statement.” Usually, the Position Statement filed by your employer will deny the allegations in your Charge, and may state other non-discriminatory reasons for any adverse employment action that has been taken against you. For example, the employer may state that you were a bad employee, that you missed too much work, or you did not follow instructions. If this is the case, the EEOC may ask you to provide additional evidence to support your claim of discrimination or harassment.

Once both sides have had an adequate opportunity to state their respective positions, the EEOC may move forward with an investigation.

WILL THE EEOC HELP ME SETTLE MY CASE?

If both sides agree, the EEOC may refer your case for a settlement conference, also called “mediation.” The EEOC has mediators on staff who will help both parties to resolve your dispute.
If both parties don’t agree to mediation, or if mediation is unsuccessful, the EEOC will move forward with an investigation into the allegations in your Charge of Discrimination. They can interview witnesses and request documents from either party to assist with that investigation.

HOW LONG DOES THE EEOC PROCESS TAKE?

Currently, an EEOC investigation can take up to 1 year. However, If the EEOC does not complete its’ investigation within 180 days after you filed your Charge, then you can request that they issue a Right to Sue letter. The Right to Sue letter allows you to file a lawsuit against your employer. It is very important to remember that you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer until you have received the Right to Sue letter from the EEOC.

Upon receipt of your Right to Sue Letter, you have 90 days in which to file a lawsuit against your employer. If you don’t file suit within 90 days, your claim will be barred.

What should I do if I feel I am the victim of harassment or discrimination?

The most important thing to do if you believe you are the victim of harassment or discrimination is to report it to your employer, preferably in writing. If you don’t report, your employer can always deny that they knew that any harassment or discrimination was occurring. Many employers have a handbook which should contain the company’s policies and procedures for reporting discrimination, harassment, or a hostile work environment. If you report harassment or discrimination, and your employer does not remedy the situation, please call me for a free consultation.

Should I Allow Vaping In My Rental Units?

Should I Allow Vaping In My Rental Units?

Most landlords and owners do not allow smoking in their rental units – and for good reason: the smell remains in the house long after the tenants move out; the tar and smoke buildup on walls, carpets, and ceiling; and it increases the risk of accidental fire to your rental home.

 

But what about vaping and e-cigarettes? Should you allow their use in your rental? Recent polls indicate 10% of U.S. adults and 15% of U.S. adults under the age of 40 use e-cigarettes. This equates to millions of users throughout the country, so allowing the use of e-cigarettes might spark more interest in your rental properties from that growing population.

Risks of Vaping and E-Cigarettes to Your Rentals

Before you sign up those vaping tenants, you should be aware of the risks of vaping and e-cigarettes to your rentals.

http://time.com/3915957/e-cigarettes-vaping-health-tobacco-addiction/ (hyperlink 10% of U.S. adults with this).

That Chain-Smoker Perfume

Just like traditional cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, e-cigarettes do produce emissions that leave behind a residue that can build up on walls, ceilings, and in vents over time. The vapors from e-cigarettes are significantly cleaner than those from traditional cigarettes, but it will still leave an oily residue with repeated and long-term use. While the stench and deep staining of nicotine are not as prevalent with e-cigarettes, it is likely there will be extra cleaning costs upon your vaping tenant’s move-out.

Fire Hazards

While e-cigarettes have a significantly smaller chance of burning down your unit than falling asleep on the couch with a lit cigarette, the danger is still real. In July 2017, FEMA issued a report that 195 separate incidents of explosion and fire were reported involving e-cigarettes in the preceding 8 years. Many of these explosions occurred when the e-cigarette was being charged. Often this charging is done when tenants are asleep and not in a position to realize the danger before significant damage is done to your unit.

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/electronic_cigarettes.pdf (hyperlink FEMA with this).

What to Do?

Ultimately it will be up to each landlord to allow or exclude the use of e-cigarettes in its properties. However, whatever you decide, you need to be sure your lease is updated to address e-cigarettes and vaping, and to ensure your tenants are aware of the rules regarding vaping and smoking before you rent to them.

What Defines Unpaid Wages?

What Defines Unpaid Wages?

Generally speaking, an employer must pay its employees for the work that they perform. This is true whether you are paid hourly, salary, commissions, or by the piece, or any other method for determining the amount. In Indiana, these wages must be paid either twice a month (semi-monthly) or every two weeks (bi-weekly). Failure to pay wages earned can result in penalties for the employer up to two times the amount of unpaid wages, plus attorney’s fees.

In Indiana, if you are an hourly employee with an agreed upon wage, your employer is obligated to pay you for the hours you work within ten (10) days of the payment period end. For overtime, an Indiana employee is entitled to 1.5 times his or her hourly rate for any of the hours worked past a 40 hour work-week. If an employer does not make these payments, an individual may have what is known as a wage and hour claim.

Indiana has two statutes, the Wage Claims Statute, Indiana Code §22-2-9, and the Wage Payment Statute, Indiana Code §22-2-5. The Wage Claims Statute is for employees that have either been terminated or are in a labor organization dispute. Individuals with a claim under the Wage Claims Statute, that is in excess of $6,000 must get approval from the Indiana Department of Labor to file a private suit against their employer. For claims between $30 and $6,000, the Indiana Department of Labor will collect your wages free of charge. If you have a claim for unpaid wages that is less than $6,000 a claim can be made by filling out the IDOL’s Online Wage Claim Form: https://www.in.gov/dol/2671.htm

The Wage Payment Statute is for employees who have voluntarily left employment or are still currently employed.

Under both Indiana statutes, an employee is entitled to liquidated damages ranging from 10% to no more than double the amount of wages due and reasonable attorney’s fees. These damages are in addition to the wages owed. These statutes are designed to pay individuals what they are due. Immigration status does not matter, and it is illegal for an employer to use immigration status as a justification for not paying wages.

The Indiana Supreme Court reiterated the importance of Indiana’s Wage and Hour laws and their importance for all workers who depend on their paychecks to be paid regularly.

“I write separately to observe that the facts of this case dramatize the point that the statute confers on all employees the right to recover treble damages and attorney’s fees for failure to pay wages, regardless of the employees’ circumstances. This is perfectly understandable as applied to the vast majority of workers who are dependent on their paychecks for their day-to-day expenses. These employees need the money currently, not at the end of protracted litigation, and often do not have the economic staying power to engage in a court battle over relatively small amounts. A statute providing one party with treble damages and attorney’s fees is a very substantial deterrent to an employer’s playing fast and loose with wage obligations. As applied to claims of most workers this is very understandable legislative policy.”

St. Vincent Hosp. & Health Care Ctr., Inc. v. Steele, 766 N.E.2d 699, 706 (Ind. 2002).

If you have worked, but not been paid, please contact the employment attorneys at Goodin Abernathy, LLP to determine if you have a wage and hour claim. Your time and effort is valuable – talk to us to determine your options for recovering your hard earned wages.

Age Discrimination in the Workplace: A Growing Trend for Baby Boomers

Age Discrimination in the Workplace: A Growing Trend for Baby Boomers

In the next five years, approximately 25% of our workforce will be 55 years or older. For some people like Bruce Arians, a former Colts NFL football coach, jobs are still opening up (see recent news article here). But how are things going for the rest of our older workers? Are you an older professional that was just fired or handed a severance package?

Demographics show a large portion of the Baby Boomer generation is still working. Whether its because they need to work or because they want to work, many 50+ year olds are not retiring. Theoretically, our federal law protects employment discrimination against workers 40 years of age and older. The law is known as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or the “ADEA”. But not all employers follow the law, and it’s much tougher for older workers to find new jobs – let alone financially recover from an unexpected severance.

In Indianapolis, our attorneys see this scenario commonly unfold in the medical industry. Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys are experienced with pharmaceutical and medical device representatives suddenly facing a “forced retirement.” Typical scenarios show the experienced reps are asked to train new, younger sales people. The trainees tag along, meet the customers and learn the ropes. Then, if they aren’t fired, the older rep’s territory just gets split up. Part of the territory is assigned to the younger worker, while the older rep’s compensation package does not change. This means the experienced worker just trained themselves into a pay cut. You can imagine what happens after a little more time when the younger worker learns the ropes: they’re handed both territories and the older worker is shown the door.

Other times the older, experienced worker gets pushed out or “harassed out” of their position. Their younger managers start building flimsy records of statistical violations. They say the older worker isn’t making enough sales calls; is not attending enough meetings; fails to use the company’s technology correctly, etc.

Behind the scenes, the company’s strategy is simple: replace the higher paid, experienced worker with cheaper labor offered by young workers. The older workers – who devoted their careers to improving the company’s interests – get cut loose by new or younger managers trying to make their own numbers look better.

Another typical scheme involves luring away experienced, older workers from competitors. After the older worker shares her book of business and discloses other proprietary information, the new company abruptly lets them go. The new company just wanted the work intel for its younger reps and never really planned to keep the new, older hire on board.

When companies plug younger workers into jobs and push out 40+ year old workers, the experienced workers should contact our Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys for an ADEA evaluation.

Contact Goodin Abernathy LLP, and we will tell you how to look for signs of illegal ageism or age discrimination. Consult us and we will explain the legal process for an ADEA or EEOC claim with an eye towards enforcing your legal rights.