Articles Posted in Palm Beach County

Donald Trump’s visits to his South Florida estate since he was elected president have cost the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department $1.5 million in overtime costs.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is confident the money his department has spent while assisting the Secret Service will be reimbursed by the federal government.

The county sent letters to federal officials in December seeking reimbursement for the overtime security costs from Trump’s five-day visit to the estate called Mar-a-lago in November.

Those costs were originally estimated at $250,000, but Bradshaw said the total will be closer to $300,000. Based on the revised number, the security costs are amounting to about $60,000 a day during Trump’s visits to the county.

Aside from the five days in November, Trump stayed at Mar-a-lago 16 days in December. He has returned for two weekends so far in February.

The sheriff’s presidential detail is covered by overtime and doesn’t compromise law enforcement for the rest of the county.

Presidential visits aren’t unusual in Palm Beach County as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all made multiple visits for fundraisers, golf outings and campaign appearances.

But they didn’t involve extended stays.

In addition to the sheriff’s costs, West Palm Beach Chief Financial Officer Mark Parks estimated city police and fire rescue crews have incurred about $26,000 in overtime costs during Trump’s February visits.

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An assistant principal who was demoted after she became pregnant will collect $350,000 from the Palm Beach County School District.

The woman’s suit claims she was given a lower-paid job at a West Palm Beach alternative school after she became pregnant with twins. While remaining an assistant principal, she was assigned to 34 fewer days during the year, which cut her pay about $15,000, according to district records. She said the move also came after she reported allegations that another employee was being sexually harassed.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued the school district on the woman’s behalf. While the district has not admitted to any illegal conduct, it has agreed to settle the case “to avoid the burdens and risks of protracted litigation,” according to reports.

The school district will pay the woman $67,000 in back pay and $283,000 in damages. The school district also has agreed to not discriminate or retaliate on the basis of pregnancy and must submit anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies to the U.S. Department of Justice within 60 days.

The School Board is also expected to revise its existing non-discrimination policies, adding pregnancy as a protected class, along with race, religion, sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pregnancy discrimination is a form of employment discrimination. An employer is not allowed to let an employee’s pregnancy or maternity leave negatively impact employment decisions. Some of those negative effects include passing over the employee for a promotion, denying medical benefits, or perhaps terminating employment entirely. On a similar note, it is illegal for employers to try to dissuade an employee from taking maternity leave by implying that she may be replaced during her absence.

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A 29-year-old construction worker was killed Wednesday after a piece of heavy machinery being hoisted by a crane fell and hit him as he stood on the 37th floor of an Edgewater condo building.

According to reports, the man was working on Biscayne Beach Condos, located at 711 NE 29th St., when a piece of equipment weighing more than 2,000 pounds fell at about 4 p.m.

When rescue workers arrived, the man was dead already dead.

Miami police are investigating the accident.

Construction work is a very dangerous industry. Workers are expected to perform difficult physical labor, sometimes at great heights, and usually with heavy machinery. Any number of accidents can occur on a daily basis on construction sites. In 2012, 183,000 construction workers were injured in job-related accidents in the United States. Another 775 were killed. In fact, each and every year there are more work-related injuries in construction than in most other industries.

OSHA has four categories of construction worker injuries labeled as “the fatal four” due to the fact that they account for nearly 60 percent of construction worker deaths. These four injuries are falls, electrocutions, “struck by object,” and “caught in-between.”

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A strip club, just west of Interstate 95 in Hallandale, is just one of three locations that settled a class action suit with its exotic dancers for $6 million Tuesday.

The agreement received preliminary approval from a federal judge on Tuesday.

A former dancer sued the company over labor violations last summer. During her time at the club she was classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, resulting in her wages coming solely from tips. But unlike waitresses, the woman never received any hourly pay.

The woman said she raised her concerns over pay with a manager, and that he told her if she didn’t like their system she could leave.

This case brings attention to the practices of an industry that has become notorious for labor violations. In addition to not receiving hourly pay, this woman, along with other dancers, was made to pay a range of fees as part of working as an independent contractor. The costs ranged from $55 for leasing the club’s space to $20 for the D.J. as well as between $3 to $5 for each security guard, all depending on the shift worked. These types of performance fees are a common practice across the industry.

328174549_2b46dfd166_mThis $6 million payout could benefit more than 4,700 women who worked at three club locations over the last five years. In addition to the one in Hallandale, there are clubs in Tampa and Toledo, Ohio.

This suit is not the first of its kind. In April, another strip club settled a class action suit in New York for $15 million because of similar labor violations. And last December, a club in Texas settled a dispute with its dancers for $2.3 million.

While this settlement does not require the club to change its labor practices, other recent cases have resulted in a change. Last October, the Nevada Supreme Court unanimously ruled that dancers at a Nevada club must be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. And earlier in 2014, courts in Georgia and Arkansas also ruled in favor of classifying dancers as employees.

Some clubs offer performers a choice of whether they wish to be classified as an employee or independent contractor.

According to the Department of Labor, offering this choice may not be sufficient to meet the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which guarantees certain employment protections including minimum wage and overtime.

Whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor depends on the nature of the relationship, not the decision of the employee. If an individual is working full-time and exclusively for one company, these are usually signs that the person is an employee, not an independent contractor.

This lawsuit is based on the Fair Labor and Standards Act, which states that whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor revolves around multiple factors, including the following:

 

  • The extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business.
  • Whether the worker’s managerial skills affect his or her opportunity for profit and loss.
  • The relative investments in facilities and equipment by the worker and the employer.
  • The worker’s skill and initiative.
  • The permanency of the worker’s relationship with the employer.
  • The nature and degree of control by the employer.

 

The question of whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor is increasingly important because we are seeing an increase in lawsuits like these. Many laws and regulations create vast distinctions between independent contractors and employees, which makes it crucial for business owners to carefully consider the question of classification. The penalties for misclassifying employees can be extreme.

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Tracy Morgan has filed a lawsuit against Walmart following the catastrophic trucking accident that left him severely injured and killed another passenger. The New Jersey accident happened in June and ended up making national headlines after a truck driver smashed a tractor trailer into the rear end of the comedian’s limousine.

The lawsuit was filed on July 10th in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey. Morgan, along with three other survivors filed the suit naming Walmart as the defendant. The complaint alleges that Walmart was negligent and responsible for the driver that crashed into the limousine.

Tracy MorganAccording to a report released last month, the truck driver was traveling at 20 miles per hour above the speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike when his tractor-trailer struck the rear of the Mercedes limousine van. Morgan suffered multiple fractures that required several surgeries. Morgan has since been released from the rehabilitation center and is continuing his recovery at home. The comedian will also have to endure aggressive outpatient treatment. The lawsuit names additional plaintiffs, including Morgan’s wife, who was eight months pregnant when the accident happened. The crash also killed 63-year-old comedian James McNair, who was better known by his stage name Jimmy Mack.

When a trucking accident occurs, it is very important for an independent investigation to be conducted in order to determine the exact cause of the accident and identify all responsible parties. A Florida Auto Accident Attorney at Whittel & Melton can uncover the facts of your car accident and pinpoint who is responsible.When a vehicle that is involved in an accident is owned by a company, such as Walmart, it is very important to consult with an attorney who can aggressively protect your rights. In cases like these, the driver can be considered an agent of the company, which means both can be held liable for accidents and injuries.

The lawsuit alleges that Walmart knew about or should have known that the 35-year-old Georgia driver had been awake for more than 24 consecutive hours at the time of the crash. In fact, federal trucking regulations restrict the number of hours a driver can work behind the wheel without sleep. Any federal trucking violation can be used as evidence for negligence in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. The initial investigation into Morgan’s crash revealed that the driver had not slept for nearly 24 hours before the crash occurred. The truck driver was actually arrested following the accident.

The state of New Jersey has found the truck driver criminally liable for the accident, charging him with one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. The driver has entered a not guilty plea. If the driver is found guilty in the criminal case, the results can be used as evidence of negligence in the civil lawsuit.

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As National Safety month continues throughout the month of June, week 3 focuses on being aware of your surroundings.

According to the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts” for 2014, contact with objects and equipment was responsible for 15.1 percent of workplace deaths in 2011. This was also the second leading cause of missed days from work in that same year. These injuries can happen due to falling objects or mistakably being hit by a moving vehicle, like a forklift or car.

To help avoid injuries from contact with objects or equipment, the Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton recommend the following for situational attentiveness and workplace safety:

  • Neatly store any and all materials.
  • Store all items at heights that are secure.
  • Heavy objects should be stored close to the floor.
  • To prevent a tip over, only open one filing cabinet drawer at a time.
  • Wear proper attire for your workplace setting, such as steel-toed footwear.
  • Do not overload moving equipment.
  • Do not operate any machinery or equipment that you are not trained to use.
  • Always exercise added caution when coming around corners or when you are near doorways.
  • Make sure all safety devices on equipment are in good working order before using them.
  • Exercise added caution when walking around corners and near doorways.

workplaceThe NSC’s mission during the month of June is to prevent unintentional injury and death by drawing attention to safe practices. As part of this effort, our personal injury attorneys in Florida urge everyone to be attentive and conscious of their surroundings.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death due to another person’s carelessness or negligence, contact a Florida Personal Injury Attorney at Whittel & Melton for help. Our personal injury law office handles all types of accident, injury and wrongful death cases.

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Four construction workers were rescued from collapsed scaffolding under an Interstate 95 bridge in Fort Lauderdale on Monday and taken to Broward Health Medical Center.

Their conditions were unknown late Monday, according to the Fort Lauderdale Fire rescue Division.

One construction worker was buried under the collapsed scaffolding and three others were left dangling in the air for about two hours.

Four construction workers were rescued from collapsed scaffolding under an Interstate 95 bridge in Fort Lauderdale on Monday.

Four construction workers were rescued from collapsed scaffolding under an Interstate 95 bridge in Fort Lauderdale on Monday.

The men were part of a crew working under the southbound lanes that extend over the New River between State Road 84 and Davie Boulevard. The collapse was reported on Monday around 3:30 p.m. near the 2000 block of Southwest 21st Avenue.

It took the firefighters a bit more time to rescue the workers due to unforeseen circumstances.

As the Tri-Rail train travelled by on the train bridge, it would cause vibrations. Even the cars driving by caused the scaffolding to shake.

Eventually, the one worker was extricated from the rubble of the scaffolding. Another two workers were brought down with an extended bucket truck.

The location of the fourth victim over the water required a Technical Rescue Team to get involved. A firefighter was lowered on a harness and attached himself to the dangling worker. They both made it to the ground by 5:15 p.m.

Scaffolding is a platform or other type of structure that is temporarily used to help build, install or repair an area that cannot be reached by a ladder or another tool. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are approximately 4,500 scaffolding accidents every year.

Scaffolding accidents can occur in a variety of situations, but most of these accidents involve the following:

  • Scaffolding that is wrongly constructed
  • Scaffolding that is improperly manufactured
  • Supports that Collapse
  • Broken Scaffolding
  • Slick or Slipper Surfaces on the Scaffolding
  • Defective Equipment
  • Insufficient Safety Training

The height in scaffolding accidents can result in very serious or even fatal injuries. Injuries often include broken bones, severe fractures, head injuries, spinal cord trauma, paralysis and death. On top of the physical harm suffered in scaffolding accidents, victims and their families are usually left to deal with a great amount of financial and emotional stress. Medical bills, lost wages and disability are all cost factors that could be an issue following such a serious accident.

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