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April 2012 Archives

U.S. Department of Labor Enforces Overtime Pay Laws

I attended a luncheon today of the National Employment Lawyers Association and the speaker was an Asst. District Director of the U.S. Department of Labor. She spoke about enforcement actions. Their agency investigates complaints about violations of wage and hour laws. In particular, she talked about enforcement actions and investigations particularly concerning restaurants and funeral homes. She also talked about the misclassification of workers. Workers can be misclassified by employers in two ways. One, they can be called independent contractors, when in fact they should be an "employee" entitled to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week. Second, some workers are classified as exempt from overtime when they clearly are non-exempt. This happens especially when an employee is paid a salary. Some employees think that if they are paid a salary, they are not entitled to overtime pay. This is NOT the law. While being paid a salary is one piece of evidence, the key is whether the employee is performing non-exempt job duties, such as menial or routine tasks. While the Department of Labor can investigate such issues, the speaker noted that they are swamped with complaints and often suggest the individual get a private attorney. At our law firm, we often represent individuals who have overtime claims against an employer. __________________________________________________________________________________________________ About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at [email protected], 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

Hatian Man Files EEOC Charge Against LNR Property LLC

Our law firm was recently hired to represent a Haitian-American man in a discrimination complaint against his former employer, LNR Property LLC. The charge of discrimination was filed with the EEOC this month, and alleges discrimination based on race, national origin and sex.Our client worked at LNR for over 10 years and seemed to be doing just fine. About one year ago, he got a new supervisor, and that is when he alleges the discrimination began against him because he is not Hispanic like most of his co-workers. He alleges that co-workers including his supervisor constantly spoke in Spanish and excluded him from such conversations and other work activities.The issue of speaking foreign languages in the work place continues to be a hot issue in discrimination cases. Our law firm is handling several cases in Miami concerning similar issues.In accordance with federal law, the EEOC will be conducting an investigation of our client's complaint, after which, he can take his case to federal court.__________________________________________________________________________________________________About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at [email protected], 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

Mediation of Employment Law Cases by Attorney Bruce Coane

Here is my latest video which talks about the mediation of employment law cases. It explains how mediation works and what benefit it may have for employees and employers.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4NqIpn263Y__________________________________________________________________________________________________About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at [email protected], 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

Immigrants Leaving the Work Force

Excellent article about lack of workers in some states, due to certain anti-immigrant legislation, like in Arizona.States who chase away immigrants are now feeling the brunt of having jobs with no American workers available to fill them. Immigration lawyers have known for decades that there are certain jobs like those described in the attached article, where Americans will not do those jobs, such as picking crops, working in the hot sun, etc.__________________________________________________________________________________________________About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at [email protected], 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

H-1B Working Visas Available for Foreign Nationals

The H-1B working visas allows foreign nationals to work in the USA in a specialty occupation that requires a bachelor's degree. There is an annual cap on such visas of approximately 65,000, and each year the cap has been reached. On April first the cap re-opened allowing foreign workers to be sponsored by American companies for jobs in the U.S. There are all sorts of complex rules and regulations for this visa, and as can be seen in the attached article, the debate continues concerning this long-standing work visa program. Our law firm, Coane and Associates, PLLC regularly advises workers and employers on the intricacies of this visa, and we represent them before the Department of Homeland Security in obtaining such visas. Here is an interesting article on H-1B working visas from The Star Telegram.__________________________________________________________________________________________________About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at [email protected], 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

Kroger Files Motion to Dismiss Race/Sex Harassment Lawsuit

In a case that our law firm has been handling, the employer, Kroger, has filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed. They claim that there are insufficient disputed facts to warrant a trial. The case is pending in US District Court in Houston and is set for trial this summer.In this case, our client filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming that a co-worker harassed her because she is black and female, by among other things, calling her a "nigger." Store managers, Raymond Wei and Mike Childs, have signed statements on behalf of Kroger's motion. Co-manager of the Kroger store (in Sugar Land, Tx), Raymond Wei, verifies that our client complained about a co-worker using curse words at her, and he notes that a customer verified our client's complaint. Store manager Mike Childs has verified that the offending employee was disciplined at least one time, yet, his employer still seeks dismissal of the case.In their motion, Kroger claims that our client cannot prove sufficient facts to win, so the judge should dismiss the case. This is a common defense tactic in almost every discrimination case. Unfortunately, many times a judge will dismiss the case without the employee-victim ever getting their day in court for a trial. In this case, we plan to respond to the motion with compelling evidence, so hopefully the judge will let our client proceed to trial before a jury. __________________________________________________________________________________________________About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at [email protected], 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

Immigrations Officials Arrest Thousands

Immigration officials arrested thousands of immigrants this past week. While some were undocumented, others are believed to be lawful residents with a criminal record. Our law firm, Coane and Associates, PLLC represents individuals in such situations, including bond hearings, deportation defense and appeals.Here is the complete article link: Immigration Agents Arrest More Than 3,100 in Largest Operation Ever__________________________________________________________________________________________________About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at [email protected], 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

90 Years Old is Too Soon to Retire

I read a story, recently, in the Miami Herald, which reminded me about one of my clients. The story was about Sister Marie Schramko, the 95 year old assistant principal at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale. The article talked about how amazing it is that she is still working at the age of 95.This story reminded me of my client, Rosa Lopez, who at 92 was working as a Registered Nurse at Miami Behavioral Health Center until she was unceremoniously fired after 30 years of service, with no notice and no severance pay. Now, 93, Lopez still desires to work but has been unable to find employment. Lopez has filed a federal court lawsuit against Miami Behavioral Health Center, alleging discrimination based on age and disability. In particular, she alleges that her supervisor Ron Espinoza made comments to her that she needed to retire because of her advanced age and medical condition. While most of us can only dream of living to age 90 or beyond, it is truly amazing that these two South Florida women, have been able to continue working well-into their 90's. __________________________________________________________________________________________________About the author: Bruce Coane is an attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, and, immigration law, with offices in Florida and Texas. He may be reached at [email protected], 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

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