Articles Posted in Uncategorized

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If you have a car with a keyless ignition, odds are you’ve started to leave your car before you realized you still had the engine running. Maybe you’ve even stepped out and closed the door. Or even worse, maybe you’ve gone in your house with the car parked in the garage and only after second guessing yourself, gone out to find you did leave the car on. It’s surprisingly easy to do given that car engines are quieter than ever, we’re busier than ever, and many cars are not outfitted with alerts to notify us that the car is still on.

Suburban Chicago Couple Dies After Car Left Running in Garage

A New York Times investigation found that while no agency or group tracks the number of deaths or injuries related to carbon monoxide poisoning from cars with keyless ignitions, at least 28 people have died after leaving their car on in their own garage. The known number of those injured is at least 45. The Times tells multiple stories of victims both living and deceased, including that of a 75 year old man who died after leaving his car on overnight. Another couple managed to escape their home after waking up sick and disoriented, only to find the level of carbon monoxide was 80 times higher than tolerable for the human body.

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In early June, a Brooklyn judge ruled that Uber users couldn’t be expected to navigate to the terms & conditions section of the app to locate legal language that binds them to using arbitration to solve disputes with the company. The ruling came about in response to a Brooklyn woman’s attempt to sue the rideshare giant for failing to pick her up when she requested a wheelchair-accessible car. The woman, Elizabeth Ramos, is disabled and has relied on a wheelchair for most of her life. In the summer of 2016, she attempted to secure a ride through Uber in a wheelchair-capable car on multiple occasions, only to be told there were no cars available. With the hope of making Uber as user-friendly for the disabled as for the able-bodied, she decided to sue the company. It was only through attempting to sue that she realized she had unknowingly agreed to arbitration. Users who order a ride through Uber are automatically bound to the Terms & Conditions just by using the service.

Arbitration is a process in which disputes are handled outside the courtroom with an arbitrator (a negotiator) chosen by the group accused of wrongdoing. The meetings are held behind closed doors, so the public has no idea that a dispute has been brought forth. Companies favor arbitration agreements because they are more favorable to the company and eliminate the potential for high jury verdicts. They also help keep unsavory details of abuse, neglect, and discrimination out of the public eye, allowing the company to retain tighter control of their public image.

Ruling Could Pave the Way for Other Lawsuits

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On May 21, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that employees who have signed an arbitration agreement with a class action lawsuit waiver cannot band together to sue their employer for unfair wages or working conditions. A 2011 Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Federal Arbitration Act legally upheld that companies could bypass class actions by enforcing individual arbitration.

The majority of non-union employees have signed an employment contract that forces them into arbitration, some without even knowing it. The number of American workers bound by an employment arbitration agreement continues to rise, going from 2% just 16 years ago to 54% today. Arbitration agreements are notorious for being embedded in pages upon pages of new hire paperwork. Even when the legal language used to explain arbitration agreements and class action waivers is recognized by an employee, most feel forced to sign it for fear of losing their job.

The ruling upholding the use of arbitration agreements and class action bans in employment agreements has many worried that the law will extend to cases of discrimination and harassment. The major concern is that these disputes are handled secretly, with an arbitrator chosen by the company themselves. The process is known to heavily favor the corporation accused of wrongdoing, with the outcome rarely yielding the same results as a legal settlement or trial by jury.

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In the first part of 2017, more than 4,460 cases of sex trafficking were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. That’s just the number willing to come forward. Experts estimate that thousands of other victims are silenced, either out of fear of their perpetrator(s) or because of guilt. While many of us may feel far removed from the sex trafficking industry, states that are home to major cities such as Chicago are considered hubs for these activities, due in large part to a person’s ability to be anonymous, as well as our proximity to O’Hare International Airport, the 6th busiest in the world and the 3rd busiest in the country. Last year, Illinois ranked 10th on a list of states with the most reported human trafficking cases and had 100 reports within just the first half of the year.


Federal Law Now Makes Social Media Sites Pay Victim

Social media has given both traffickers and those seeking illegal sex an easy way of finding and targeting victims. With new legislation passed that allows victims to sue businesses that had any part in a case of a sex trafficking, the country is hopeful that the number of those brought into the human trafficking trade will dwindle.

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Said to be due to a reorganizing of the executive branch of government, the 5 advisory panels who counsel OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the Department of Labor on workplace safety and whistleblower protection have been shut down or put on hold. Even OSHA itself is significantly understaffed, said to only have enough inspectors to visit each job site once every 159 years.

The 5 committees, listed below, have not met in at least 9 months. Experts worry that the excuse of reorganizing the executive branch to increase efficiency is a cover for allowing businesses to avoid regulation that might hinder financial success. Further adding to their concerns is the number of committee members who have resigned or whose terms have expired without any attempt by the Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, to seek nominees or fill vacant positions. All of the committees’ membership positions will expire by the end of this year (if they haven’t already).

The 5 panels are:

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A 3-year-old boy and his parents were awarded $1.6 million after suing the apartment complex’s owner and  management company for failing to take care of a bedbug infestation that left their son with lifelong facial scars.

After moving into a California apartment, the boy’s mother noticed red spots all over his body and took him to the emergency room. The ER diagnosed the spots as bedbug bites. Soon after, the boy’s mother, Liliana Martinez, noticed both bedbugs and cockroaches in the family’s apartment, as well as bedbug bites all over her newborn daughter’s back.

Right after the diagnosis and discovery of bedbugs, Mrs. Martinez and her husband contacted the apartment’s management company, who sent a pest control company. They also advised the family to throw away all of their furniture. The family followed the company’s directive and were then forced to sleep on a spot of floor while chemicals covered their home. Ridding the home of their furniture and spraying for bugs did little to deter the notoriously stubborn pests, and the family continued to experience bites. The family repeatedly complained and after 4 months, the management company took out old carpeting and replaced it with new carpet. After ridding the home of the carpeting, the bedbug bites finally stopped.

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A study by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) found that Illinois is indeed a very good place to conduct business. Summarizing the findings in a recent fact sheet, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) reports that since a 2011 push to cut workers’ compensation payouts in Illinois, our state has done just that while padding the pockets of the insurance companies who should be paying these claims. The efforts to reform workers’ comp came as businesses put pressure on lawmakers to make our state more hospitable to businesses. Businesses and insurance companies are winning, while injured workers and the doctors who treat them are paying the price.

In a state-by-state analysis, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) found that Illinois

  1. Had the largest decrease in medical benefits paid out of any state
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The American Association of Justice (AAJ) has compiled a list of the 9 largest corporate scandals and coverups of the past year. Their report, titled “Worst Corporate Conduct of 2017,” outlines bad behavior on the part of United Airlines, Monsanto, Wall Street’s big banks, Wells Fargo, Fox News, Equifax, Johnson and Johnson, Takata, and McKesson.

AAJ is a Washington, D.C.-based organization focused on preserving American’s right to a jury trial and ensuring the ability of those injured by others to pursue legal action in a court of law.

Below is their list of the unethical and illegal measures each of the 9 corporations or groups took to protect both their reputations and their profits, all at the expense of us, the consumer.

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Last month, an ABC News-Washington Post poll found 54% of women have been sexually harassed.

68% of those harassed said the harassment occurred at work, and a quarter of these women said their sexual harasser was a man who had influence over their career. 95% of those subjected to sexual harassment said they did not report the incident. In response to the poll, Forbes magazine called workplace sexual harassment a “full blown epidemic.”

Despite many companies touting human resources-developed policies about no tolerance workplaces and so-called encouragement to bring these situations forward, many women are fearful. Fearful of losing their job, becoming an outcast among peers, or being retaliated against by superiors. The list of worries could go on and on.  Maybe this explains why a sexual predator such as Harvey Weinstein was able to intimidate and terrorize even the most in-demand, bankable actresses in Hollywood since at least the 1980s. After all, even as children we’re taught that ‘no one likes a tattletale.’ Now that women are beginning to blow the lid off the frighteningly common occurrences of workplace sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape, we’re beginning to see that just maybe we women have created a big enough firestorm to finally convince corporate America that it’s time to make workplaces safe from sexual harassment and to bring harassers to justice.

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This past Tuesday night in Chicago, blogger and author Glennon Doyle (formerly Glennon Doyle Melton) joined forces with a panel of other equally insightful and inspiring women to talk about finding your own self worth and harnessing that power to live your best life. We were lucky enough to be in the audience and hear the many roles these women have taken on in their lives: daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, career women, and caregivers. In her New York Times bestselling book Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle wrote “My courage will come from knowing I can handle whatever I encounter there — because I was designed by my creator to not only survive pain and love but also to become whole inside it. I was born to do this. I am a Warrior.”

Women ARE warriors. For many women, our role as a nurturer and caregiver spans the full cycle of life, from the births of our children all the way to caring for our aging parents. Caring for another person is unlike any other job in the world. The weight of responsibility, the emotional highs and lows, the physical stress and exhaustion, and the strain on other relationships that being a caregiver imposes on a woman is demanding and isolating. Adding in maintaining a marriage or partnership, looking after our own health, and holding down a job while attempting to care for another human life, whether infant or elder, is more than just a feat. It’s superhuman.


Women as Caregivers for Aging Parents