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Divorce And Underwater Mortgages — An Underwater Dilemma

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 in Uncategorized |

If you currently owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth, you are not alone. According to MarketWatch, there are more than 4 million homeowners in the United States who owe their banks 20 percent more than their houses are worth. In the best possible situation, you could try to live in your home until the housing market recovered and your house became more valuable. But if your marriage is ending, you may be required to sell your house as part of the divorce proceedings. So what are your options for selling your home if it is underwater? Consider a Short Sale of Your House If neither you or your soon-to-be ex can afford the mortgage payments after your divorce or if neither party has a desire to continue living in your underwater home, you could try to sell your home for less than the amount of money that you owe your mortgage company. This is known as a short sale. Generally, it is considered a better idea than letting the house go into foreclosure because, according to the New York Times, a short sale will have less of a negative impact on your credit history. Plus, having a foreclosure on your credit history can also affect other aspects of your lives. For example, some employers are leery of hiring a person with a bankruptcy on their record.  But short sales are not simple, so you may want to seek legal representation during the process to protect your interests. The bank that owns your mortgage is definitely going to have high-powered lawyers representing their needs, and they are going to try to get as much money from you as possible. Remember, during a short sale, you will be selling your home for less money than you owe the bank. And banks are not in the business of giving away their cash. So in order to recover part of their losses, the bank’s lawyers may attempt to: Garnish your wages Attach your bank accounts Pursue payments in the future A lawyer from a firm like Iannello Anderson can look over the final paperwork from the bank to ensure that it does not contain wording that could hold you liable for the balance of the loan in the future. Another reason you may need a lawyer during this process? Real estate agents are not allowed to offer legal advice even if they know the answers. And, finally, you may not have a choice of whether or not you want to hire a lawyer as some real estate firms are now requiring that short sellers hire legal representation.  One Party Keeps the House If either you or your spouse wants to continue living in the house, the other party could receive a credit for the negative equity during the divorce proceedings. For example, if you and your spouse have total assets of approximately $500,000, and your home has a negative equity of  $50,000, the spouse who keeps the home will end up with $50,000 in marital debt. In some cases, the judge may give the person keeping the house a credit for $25,000, which is half of the negative equity. This situation may be appropriate for you if: The party who wants to stay in the house can afford to pay the mortgage on their own.  The home...

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3 Mistakes To Avoid When Answering Questions At A Disability Hearing

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in Uncategorized |

For many people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits, one or more hearings are necessary to finally be approved for benefits. Therefore, it’s important to know what to expect at a hearing and what mistakes you might make or might have made in a previous hearing that you should avoid in the future. Take a look at some common missteps that people seeking disability benefits make so that you’ll know what to avoid in the future. Exaggerating Your Disability When asked about the severity of your disability, it can be hard to know how to answer. Of course, you want the court to understand the seriousness of your medical issue. It’s not uncommon for people to misunderstand the nature of a chronic condition – you may have run into friends and family members who see you on a good day and don’t understand why you can’t work, not realizing that the bad days outweigh the good, or that you would not be able to perform any job duties on days when your symptoms were in full force. If you suffer from an invisible disability, you may even have been accused of faking. All of this can lead to an understandable impulse to exaggerate the severity of your symptoms in order to be taken seriously. You may be tempted to say that you never have good, pain-free days, or that nothing that you can do relieves the pain. However, you should remember that in this case, you’ll be talking to people who deal with the details of disabling conditions every day. They’re aware that symptoms usually ebb and flow and can often be relieved with pain medications or other treatments. If you inflate the severity of your symptoms, you’ll be less likely to be taken seriously. Downplaying Your Disability Another common mistake is downplaying the extent of your disability. Once again, this can be a side effect of living with a disability – you may find yourself frequently reassuring worried family members or friends that you’re not in any immediate pain or danger, or that you can do things for yourself. If this is the case, it can become second nature to insist that your symptoms aren’t that bad, and that you’re OK. However, in your disability hearing, you’re not there to reassure anyone or convince anyone that you can be self-sufficient – you’re there asking for help. Downplaying your symptoms is counterproductive. When asked about the severity of your pain or the frequency of your symptoms, it’s important to be honest and accurate. Don’t worry about what you think sounds best or least upsetting. Just tell the truth. Giving Vague Answers One more mistake to avoid is vague or indirect answers to questions about your condition and your symptoms. The judge at your hearing will expect someone who is truly suffering to be able to describe exactly how they are suffering, so use the most descriptive language possible. Don’t just say that you have pain – describe the pain. Is it throbbing or stabbing? Burning or stinging? Shooting or aching? Words like these paint a clearer picture of what you’re experiencing. It also helps to give time frames. Do you have five minutes of intense shooting pain multiple times a day, or five hours of aching, throbbing pain...

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5 Tips For Managing Your Expense Records During A Personal Injury Case

Posted by on Dec 12, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Whether you’re trying to win compensation after a car accident or need help to deal with the consequences of a dog bite, records of your expenses are crucial. The court won’t meet your demands for awarding a specific amount of money unless you have hard proof that the injury really cost you that much. Use these five tips to make sure you’re building a complete portfolio of expense records as you prepare for your personal injury case. Request Letters From Work Don’t just assume your pay stubs or tax records will be enough to prove your last income due to the injury. Request letters on the company masthead from your boss, manager, and the payroll department at your employer. Each letter should outline how much money you receive on a weekly or monthly basis, how long you were away from work, and whether you’re still employed or no longer work there due to your medical complications. If you’re having trouble contacting your employer because they let you go in violation of your state’s employment law, let your lawyer handle the requests instead of just skipping this crucial form of documentation. Collect Medical Receipts If your health or car insurance company is footing the bills for your emergency room trips and your physical therapy, it’s easy to forget to collect receipts. Unfortunately, many insurance companies provide hard-to-decipher payment records that don’t include the co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses you were responsible for paying. Get separate print outs every time you visit a healthcare professional for treatment related to the injury, including the following: Therapy sessions for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety Physical therapy to restore your ability to function Acupuncture and massage, as long as the providers are licensed according to your state’s requirements. Remember Travel Expenses Your personal injury claim expenses go beyond just what you’re billed from the emergency room and your lost wages. Add up the gas costs and plane fares from your travel related to the case, including trips to the doctor, lawyer’s office, and scene of the injury to collect evidence. It’s best to keep these trips separate from other errands and tasks so you can prove each expense deserves to be included in the final award amount. Taking a quick vacation while you’re already traveling to see your lawyer will make it harder to convince a judge to take your travel expenses seriously. Photograph Everything Police investigators tend to take fairly good photographs at the scene of an accident, but you’re on your own when getting visual documentation of other types of personal injuries. Start taking photos as soon as you physically can to capture as much evidence as possible that would affect the amount you receive. For example, photographs of your injuries can prove that your medical expenses were warranted, no matter what an expert witness for the opposing side might claim. You can also make backup copies of your expense records and receipts with a decent digital camera to prevent any accidental or purposeful destruction of evidence from ruining the case. Estimate Future Costs Finally, get professional help from a disability lawyer when trying to estimate the long-term impact of the injury on your future earning power. Your personal injury attorney can provide you with a recommendation, or they...

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How To Maximize Potential Compensation In Your Car Crash Case

Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in Uncategorized |

After being injured in a car accident, you’ll have to negotiate with an adjuster for the insurance company that represents the person who’s at fault for your injuries. This negotiation process is never fun and games, as the adjuster is sure to work hard at minimizing any payments they’ll be responsible for providing you with. So if your case is potentially worth thousands of dollars, it’s essential to hire an experienced lawyer who focuses on personal injury cases and knows the laws inside and out. Here’s what you can do to help your lawyer maximize potential compensation in your car crash case: Take Photos It’s important to take photos that document the accident and help prove your point of view about what happened. If possible, go back to the accident scene and take photos of the ground, landmarks, and any other visual information in the area that is pertinent to your case. It’s also important to photograph your entire vehicle up close and in sufficient lighting so that damage from the accident can be clearly seen without glare. If you have been physically injured, take photos of your bodily injuries once a week throughout the proceedings of your case to help prove how long you’re having to deal with said injuries. Find Witnesses While you’re at the accident scene taking photos, take the time to talk to people living in the area who may have seen what happened. If you do find witnesses to the accident, ask them to fill out a simple form stating their names, contact information, and the specifics of what they saw when the accident happened. You may want to ask your lawyer to create your own personalized form and make copies of it before looking for witnesses to ensure that you get the information you want and need from each of them. This will ensure that nothing important, such as a license plate number, is overlooked when witnesses relay their accounts. Gain Some Written Insight It can be helpful to ask your friends and family to write accounts of their insight into the pain and suffering you’ve had to go through since being in an accident. The kind of pain they see you in while they’re in your presence, the loss of work you have experienced, and what you are doing with your time during recovery can all be recorded by loved ones and turned over to your lawyer, which will help to fill in the blanks. Like with getting witness information, you can have personalized forms created to have your loved ones fill out – but open letters that allow them to speak in their own words and in their own way may be more insightful to your lawyer and the courts if they have to get involved in your case. Record Your Progress Updates In addition to having your friends and family members provide insight into your healing progress, it’s important that you document your progress personally. Consider keeping a diary dedicated just to aspects of your life that involve the accident. Each morning or evening take the time to record how much pain medication you’ve had to take, whether or not you had to miss work and if so, how much money was lost, and what your overall mindset if like...

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3 Keys To Finding The Right Foreclosure Attorney

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Many people’s biggest fear when filing for bankruptcy lies in the possibility of losing their home. In these situations, it’s important that you have a qualified foreclosure attorney who can fight your case on your behalf and help you to hold on to your property. However, choosing the right lawyer isn’t always easy. To help you make an informed decision, here are the three keys to finding the right foreclosure attorney: Find a Lawyer with Experience in Foreclosures Foreclosure is a very sensitive area of real estate law, and as such it’s important you find the right type of lawyer to represent you. While there are many lawyer who specialize entirely in foreclosure, you will typically come across many others with more general specializations such as real estate or bankruptcy. Whatever type of lawyer you choose, you must ensure they have a proven track record in handling complex foreclosure cases and delivering real results. When choosing a foreclosure lawyer, make sure you find out how many cases your potential attorney has filed. Rather than gauging each individual by their years in the field, choosing an attorney on the basis of successful defenses will ensure you have the legal help you require. When looking for an attorney, make sure you hold a number of one-to-one meetings to give yourself a chance to discuss your case before signing on the dotted line. Even if the first attorney you meet feels like a perfect fit, speak to a few others so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of each before coming to a decision. Calculate the Cost The cost of a foreclosure attorney depends entirely on your case. If you have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have a good chance of keeping your home, and so hiring a foreclosure attorney will be somewhat of a formality. However, if you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you face a lengthy legal battle to maintain possession of your property, and so your legal fees will be substantially higher. While it is difficult to calculate an exact figure for your legal fees, it is possible to narrow your costs down to a small range. Typically, foreclosure attorneys will charge their fees in one of two ways:   Flat fees As the name suggests, these are lump-sum costs that you pay in advance of your trial. Typical costs range from $1,500 to $4,000, depending on your situation and how much work the attorney is required to put into the case. Choosing a foreclosure attorney that charges a flat fee at the front end of the case is a good way to place a limit on your fees; however, the flipside of this is that you may end up paying a large amount for a little work. Therefore, it’s imperative that you analyze your situation in detail prior to hiring an attorney on a flat-fee basis. Hourly Rates If you would rather pay the exact amount for the legal service provided, consider hiring a foreclosure attorney who charges by the hour. Typical hourly rates for a foreclosure attorney ranges from $100 to several hundred dollars, although rates may be higher for particularly tricky cases or those with extremely tight deadlines. Hiring an attorney that charges by the hour can be a great way to...

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Bankruptcy Or Divorce: Which One Should You File First?

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Uncategorized |

If you find yourself considering both bankruptcy and divorce around the same time, it’s easy to feel like your life is falling apart. But your position isn’t as unusual as you might believe. While bankruptcy and divorce don’t necessarily go hand in hand, they are often connected. Research indicates that debt is one of the most harmful relationship issues. And it’s well-known that legal separations and divorces have a negative impact on the finances of the couple. The court costs and lawyer’s fees are a big expense, and both spouses face bearing the full costs of maintaining a household on their own. Given the effects of finances on the strength of a marriage and the effects of divorce on one’s finances, it’s no surprise that a bankruptcy might be on the horizon before the divorce or become necessary immediately following the divorce. The question is, when you know that both a divorce and a bankruptcy are imminent, which should you file first? When to File Bankruptcy First It can be difficult to file for bankruptcy jointly if you’re not on amicable terms with your soon-to-be-ex spouse, so your ability to cooperate with each other for some length of time should be considered. It’s best not to attempt any joint bankruptcy if the relationship is highly contentious. If you’re considering filing bankruptcy first, your best bet is to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which usually only takes about three or four months. A joint Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows both of you to wipe out your unsecured debts without the need to commit to a lengthy joint repayment plan. If one of the two of you is a stay-at-home spouse or is making only a minimal amount of money, filing for bankruptcy before the divorce can help the spouse that is making the majority of the money qualify for a Chapter 7, as opposed to a Chapter 13. Separately, the spouse making the majority of the money may have too many assets to qualify for a Chapter 13, but with the addition of a non-working or minimally-earning spouse, a Chapter 7 may be an option. Many people prefer the Chapter 7 because it doesn’t require you to repay your debts. Furthermore, if neither one of you can afford to pay off an underwater car loan or mortgage, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can wipe that out, which means that you and your spouse won’t need to worry about how to split that debt up. When to File for Divorce First If your combined incomes are too high for the two of you to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, divorcing first may bring your income and asset levels down low enough to qualify for a Chapter 7. Basically, if you want or will have to have a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, filing for divorce first is a smart move. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan can last from 3-5 years. While you can certainly divorce while the repayment plan is in place,  you will still have to follow the repayment plan jointly, and one spouse’s failure to pay can affect the other’s status. In most cases, it’s best not to have your finances tangled up with someone that you intend to divorce. If only one of you wishes to file for bankruptcy,...

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Protecting Collectibles From An Acrimonious Divorce

Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 in Uncategorized |

A person can develop a lot of anger and bitterness while going through a divorce that may cause him or her to lash out at the soon-to-be ex-spouse. This can result in the loss of valuable or sentimental items that the person spent a lot of years and money acquiring. For example, a woman acquired her ex-husband’s video game collection in a divorce and sold it for much less than it was worth to get back at the man. If you want to avoid the same thing happening to your collectibles, use the following tips. Draw Up a Prenuptial Agreement A prenuptial agreement is a contract that details the terms of marriage prior to both parties going through with the union. While a prenuptial agreement can address almost any issue, the majority of contracts focus on the division of property and spousal support in the event the marriage ends in divorce. If you want to keep your spouse from being awarded your collectibles when you separate, drawing up a prenup agreement addressing the issue would be the first place to start. Even if you’re already married, you can still have this type of contract drawn up between you and your spouse. In this case, it would be called an postnuptial and may be a little more complex to implement depending on how long you’ve been married and whether the assets you want to protect are considered separate or marital property. In either case, it’s essential that you work with an attorney when drawing up the agreement to ensure it is legally binding. It’s not unusual for a judge to throw out a prenuptial agreement because it was worded poorly or addressed issues that can only be resolved by a court (e.g. child support payments, child custody). Do Not Buy Your Collectibles with Mixed Money Even if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, you can still prevent your soon-to-be ex-spouse from getting your collectibles by maintaining the assets’ separate property classification. Separate property is assets that belong to one spouse, while community or marital property is assets that belong to both spouses. In general, any assets the spouse owned prior to getting married is considered separate property, while assets acquired after the marriage are considered community property. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, your separate property can be ruled community property in a divorce. This can happen if you purchase items for your collection using comingled funds. For example, you buy video games with money from a joint checking account. Your ex-spouse could argue that since you used some of his or her money to enhance the collection, he or she has a claim to it. A judge may also award your ex-spouse a portion of the collection (or equivalent value) if he or she added to it in some way. For instance, your wife spends time searching for and buying snow globes to add to your collection of kitsch. This investment in time and money may entitle her to some of the equity in the asset, especially if she spent her own money and her contributions increased the overall value of the collection. To avoid either of these scenarios, only use your money to buy pieces for the collection. If your spouse is interested in contributing to it, then you’ll...

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When Is Your Employer Liable For Workplace Violence?

Posted by on Aug 6, 2015 in Uncategorized |

You may assume workers compensation coverage applies only injuries associated with slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. However, this insurance covers much more — and with recent increases in the rates of workplace violence, knowing when your employer is required to take steps to protect you and coworkers from potential physical danger can be crucial. Read on to learn more about the situations in which your employer may be liable for employee (or customer) actions that cause other employees injury, as well as what you should do if you find yourself on the mend from a debilitating injury deliberately caused by a customer, coworker, or supervisor. What injuries are covered by workers compensation? Workers compensation is a type of insurance coverage carried by employers and intended to compensate employees for any medical costs, lost wages, or other expenses associated with an on-the-job accident. Workers comp can cover injuries ranging the gamut from an infected papercut to a gunshot wound, as well as just about anything in between. If your injury didn’t take place at your work site, but while you were traveling for work (or to a new work site), it should still be covered. The only large swath of injuries excluded from workers comp coverage are those that take place during your normal morning or afternoon commute, unless you were traveling to a different location than your normal one. Are employers responsible for violent actions committed by employees or customers? Since 1970, the federal government has prescribed a number of health and safety regulations for employers through its Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). These OSHA regulations primarily govern safety from mechanical issues or equipment failure — like ensuring that those who regularly work at or above certain heights have the requisite safety equipment, requiring hard hats and other protective equipment in areas with falling or flying objects, and other physical safety issues. However, some OSHA regulations are more broadly interpreted, and employers who ignore threats of violence or other potential red flags that indicate an employee or customer could pose a physical danger to other employees could be committing a violation. Many state governments have also implemented laws and regulations targeted toward reducing violence in the workplace. If your employer was (or should have been) aware of a danger and did nothing to prevent it, it may be responsible for not only workers comp coverage for your injuries, but also liable under personal injury or wrongful death law. What should you do if you’ve been injured by a violent customer, coworker or supervisor? Your first step should be to file a workers compensation claim with your employer. Your employer will then transmit your information to its workers comp carrier to open a claim. After this, you’ll be able to receive checks for any lost wages you’ve experienced while out of work. You should be able to have your medical bills forwarded to the workers comp carrier for direct payment. If you feel your employer could have easily prevented your accident, you may also want to file a personal injury lawsuit to help recover additional costs. Although personal injury lawsuits are often barred in cases where the claimant is receiving workers comp for the same injury, most states will allow this lawsuit to proceed if your employer...

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Workers’ Compensation: Could You Claim for Avian Flu?

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Around 3.8 million Americans suffer work-related injuries or illnesses every year. While employers (and workers) must take precautions to keep the workplace safe, workers’ compensation insurance helps people deal with the financial implications of time away from work. Avian flu is a rare illness for American workers, but the disease could have serious consequences. Find out about the effects Avian flu can have, and learn more about the factors that could influence a workers’ compensation claim for this disease. About Avian flu Avian flu (commonly called bird flu) is a type A flu virus, which occurs naturally in aquatic birds. Scientists detect outbreaks in wild birds on a fairly regular basis, but the disease occasionally also spreads and infects humans. Only one serious pathogenic outbreak has occurred in the United States, when 7,000 chickens contracted the virus in Texas in 2004. In that case, doctors did not see any transmission to humans. A few rare cases of human bird flu infection have occurred in the United States, after people came in close contact with infected birds. People with the virus can experience many symptoms, including severe respiratory disease and problems with several major organs. To date, only 359 people throughout the world have died from Avian flu, but many more have become ill. Workers’ compensation requirements There are three key criteria you must meet to file a workers’ compensation claim. Employer insurance. State laws vary, but most American employers must hold workers’ compensation insurance. Some states do not force businesses that employ one or two people to have this insurance, so if you are the sole worker in a company, state law may not allow you to make a workers’ compensation claim. Also, some states don’t force charities to hold this insurance. Employment status. You can only file a claim for workers’ compensation if you are a company employee. Full-time and part-time workers are eligible, but independent contractors cannot file a claim.  Type of illness or injury. You must show that your illness is work-related. If you contracted the virus during working hours, then workers’ compensation laws should protect you. In all cases, you might need a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you prove your case. If you catch bird flu, you may find it harder to prove your case than you would expect. Objections an employer could make While an employer cannot argue his or insurance status, he or she may battle the second two criteria. Many employers describe workers as independent contractors, when they’re actually employees. Under Workers’ Compensation Law, the term employee normally includes borrowed employees, sub-contractors, leased employees and unpaid volunteers. When challenging this, a lawyer will consider many factors including who has the right to control what you do, the sort of work you do and how your employer pays your wages. People who work on poultry farms often work under temporary or flexible contracts, so an employer may deny liability for any illness (like bird flu) you contract. What’s more, it’s scientifically impossible to say when you caught a virus, so your employer may also argue against you. For example, if you came into contact with wild birds outside work, your employer’s lawyer could argue that you cannot categorically prove your illness was work-related. Your responsibilities When you file a workers’ compensation claim, a...

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Five Items You Can Easily Sacrifice During A Divorce

Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in Uncategorized |

A key to getting through divorce is compromise. This can also be one of the toughest parts of a divorce. With a little compromise, you will have room to work out your agreements during mediation with divorce lawyers. The following five items may be seem important, but overtime, they can get replaced and will help you through divorce proceedings. Magazine Subscriptions Sharing a home with a spouse often involves shared delivery of items like magazines or newspapers. These subscriptions are often prepaid and will continue delivery even during a divorce. Instead of battling over subscription changes or remaining issues, it’s a good idea to just let that battle go. Magazines and newspapers can easily be replaced and sent to a new home. When getting new subscriptions, you may have the ability to find better rates and deals. It’s also a good time to consider what periodicals you actually still read. Movie & Book Collections The library of books and movies in your home can become another complicated battle during divorce proceedings. In the long run, it will feel frivolous if you’re feuding with your former spouse over a few forms of media. Used DVD and book sales can help you rebuild a collection and gather your favorites again. Streaming websites have also expanded your options for watching your favorite movies. Use resources to find all of your movies online and know that you can move on without the physical discs. By giving up the movies and books, you may have the ability to negotiate with lawyers on other items that have more importance to you. A lot of the movies and books are often items you will never watch or read again. Wedding Gifts Early on in divorce proceedings, the wedding gifts in your home may feel like important keepsakes. As you start over with a separate life from your spouse, it may be a good idea to permanently remove the reminders of your wedding. A variety of wedding gifts can be let go of. This includes wedding dishware, custom monogrammed items, or household items like appliances. Work with your lawyer to determine the value of these items as you work to split assets. Personal Gardens A big part of any divorce is relocating to a new home. While a lot of the items can be removed from the home, you may have to sacrifice some items that are harder to move. One of the hardest items to move is your personal garden. Gardens are a lot of work and hard to give up, but there are always ways to recreate the garden in a new home. Take pride in the work you’ve done with images and video clips. This will allow you to look back on your garden without digging up your lawn or debating with your spouse over the rights to the garden. Starting a fresh garden can be symbolic of your new path in life. It can also give you something to focus on as you get through the painful divorce process. Public Areas The public areas around your town or city may not come under any ownership battles, but sacrificing certain public areas will make it easier to cope and separate yourself from a spouse. Make things easier by giving up local grocery stores or...

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Can You Sack Somebody On Disability Leave?

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in Uncategorized |

According to the Social Security Administration, the number of applications for disabled worker benefits in the United States exceeded 2.5 million in 2014. As well as the financial cost to the U.S. Government, these claims cost American employers billions of dollars in lost working hours. American law protects disabled workers who cannot work, but this legislation does not mean you cannot take action in certain circumstances. Find out why. Applicable legislation In the United States, two federal laws protect employees on disability leave. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) aims to protect disabled people throughout their working and personal lives. The Act offers comprehensive protection in many areas, including the workplace. Under Title I, American employers cannot discriminate against their disabled employees from recruitment right through to termination. According to the ADA, you do not have to offer disability or medical-related leave, but you do have to make reasonable accommodations to help any disabled workers. In some cases, a court may rule that leave from work is a reasonable accommodation you have to make. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to all employees. Under the Act, employees can (in certain circumstances) take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave each year. Applicable circumstances include disability, illness, injury recovery or taking care of a family member with a disability. Other legislation (like Workers’ Compensation laws) may also apply to workers on disability leave. In fact, multiple laws can simultaneously protect workers on disability leave, so you need to think carefully about any action you take. Disciplinary action against employees on disability leave According to these laws, you cannot take action against an employee because he or she is on disability leave, but you CAN take action for other reasons WHILE the worker is on leave. For example, if an employee has a problem with late attendance or other performance issue, employers can take action if he or she then takes disability or medical leave. Anti-discrimination laws protect employees from unfair treatment, but the law also recognizes that employers must operate efficiently and profitably. As such, if it is not unreasonable for an employee to attend work on time, you can take disciplinary action, even if he or she needs to take disability leave.  Some employees mistakenly believe that medical leave can protect them from any type of action from an employer, but this isn’t true. Indeed, if necessary, you can still sack somebody on disability leave, provided your reason for termination has nothing to do with the person’s disability. Disciplinary action related to an employee’s disability leave While you cannot take action against somebody because they are on disability leave, you can still tackle an employee who doesn’t follow an agreed company process. For example, the FMLA gives all employees up to 12 weeks unpaid leave each year, but if somebody does not return to work immediately after this (or exceeds this amount in one year), you can take action, even if the employee used the leave because of his or her disability. Similarly, you can ask employees to report their absence in a certain way. If the worker then fails to notify you, you can take disciplinary action. In extreme cases, this could mean that you sack somebody on disability leave. If you exhaust every attempt to speak...

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