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December 2017 Archives

Age Discrimination Based on WV Substantially Younger Rule

No matter where you do business, it is important to know the legal standards that apply to potential employee lawsuits, including age discrimination claims. Since 1996, federal age discrimination cases have been governed by the "substantially younger" rule outlined by the United States Supreme Court. Does this rule apply to claims of age discrimination under West Virginia (WV) law? In other words, does a WV substantially younger rule exist?

Whole Body Medical Impairment Ratings in WV: A New Rule

Employers and insurers should take note of a West Virginia Supreme Court decision involving permanent total disability thresholds. In March 2017, the Court issued its decision in Cooper v. Appalachian Power Company, determining that the Rule 20 spine impairment tables must be used when calculating whole body medical impairment ratings in WV.

You Should Now Be Using the New I-9 Form in WV

Starting in January 2017, employers were required to start using a new I-9 form in West Virginia (WV) and nationwide. In a nutshell, the I-9 is the form that employers must complete in order to verify the identity and work eligibility of employees. The new I-9 form has frequently been updated, with the latest iteration being announced on July 17th, 2017. Both employers and employees are required to complete the form, with both citizens and non-citizens being affected by this legal requirement for employment. Employers who fail to use the new form "may be subject to all applicable penalties," according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency ("ICE").

West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act Amendments

In 2017, the West Virginia Legislature amended several statutory provisions of the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act ("MPLA"), W. Va. Code § 55-7B-1 et seq, related to nursing home liability in WV. The WV MPLA governs the litigation of claims of medical malpractice liability in WV. The WV MPLA amendments provide a statutory definition of "occurrence" and set forth a shortened statute of limitation and preferred venue for claims brought against nursing homes, assisted living facilities, acute care hospitals or their employees, and other related entities.

Surveillance of Workers' Compensation Claimants: Is It Legal and How May It Be Used in West Virginia?

The attorneys at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC are often asked whether it's permissible to use surveillance of workers' compensation claimants in West Virginia and, if so, how that evidence may be used. Consider this common scenario:The treating physician diagnoses the claimant with very serious conditions and prescribes many treatments, including the long-term use of opioid pain medications. Surveillance evidence would tend to make this treatment seem highly unnecessary. The employer wants to approach the treating physician with the surveillance to see if he will stop providing treatment that is clearly unnecessary in light of the tasks the claimant is seen doing in the surveillance video.Let's take a look at the development of the law on workers' compensation surveillance in West Virginia.

Mandatory Post-Accident Drug Testing in WV

Do you routinely test employees for illegal drugs and alcohol when they are involved in a workplace accident? If so, you may incur the wrath of both the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the West Virginia (WV) Supreme Court. OSHA believes that employees may be afraid to report workplace injuries and illness for fear of retribution from their employers. That is why it has promulgated the "Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses," which may impact mandatory post-accident drug testing in WV and elsewhere.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace in WV

In recent years, many states and municipalities across the United States have sought to enact statutes and ordinances to include "sexual orientation" amongst the classes traditionally protected from discrimination. West Virginia (WV) has followed suit. WV Senate Bill 77, introduced on February 15, 2017, similarly sought to amend the West Virginia Human Rights Act and the West Virginia Fair Housing Act to include "sexual orientation" as a protected class and prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace in WV, in places of public accommodation, and in housing.

The Civil Jurisdiction of WV Magistrate Courts: A Changing Landscape

Each level of court in the West Virginia (WV) court system has authority, or jurisdiction, over different types of case. The civil jurisdiction of the WV magistrate courts is no different. Magistrate courts are at the bottom of the pyramid of the West Virginia (WV) court system. The majority of civil cases are considered "small claims" and are heard here. Next on the pyramid are family courts, followed by circuit courts, otherwise known as "trial courts." At the top of the pyramid is the Supreme Court of Appeals, to which the losing party in a civil or criminal case may petition to appeal a circuit court's ruling.

A Weakened WV Senate Bill 224 Lightened Wage Bond Requirements for Some Employers

In 2017, the West Virginia (WV) Legislature proposed legislation eliminating the requirement for wage payment bonds for some employers. Instead, the Legislature passed a weakened WV Senate Bill 224, amending the Wage Payment and Collection Act to keep the wage bond requirement but shortening the period such bonds are required.

Trust but Verify: The Cold War's Contribution to Compliance with Company Policies

President Ronald Reagan wanted to learn a few Russian proverbs. An advisor had told him that Russians speak in proverbs and it might be handy to know a few as the United States and the U.S.S.R. negotiated arms treaties during the Cold War. One Russian proverb became President Reagan's favorite: "Doveryai, no proveryai" or "trust, but verify." At one joint press conference with his Soviet counterpart, the President repeated the proverb in both Russian and English. Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev laughed and said, "You repeat that at every meeting." President Reagan smiled and said, "I like it."
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