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Study Finds People with Facial Scars Less Likely to be Hired

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When a person walks into a California employment lawyer's office alleging looks- based employment discrimination, we know better than to brush those claims aside. Looks-based discrimination is widely prevalent in the workplace, and there are enough studies to show that persons with a pleasant appearance and symmetrical features have a greater chance of being hired compared to others. A new study confirms this fact. According to the study, people who have facial scars, birthmarks or acne scars, could stand a lower chance of acing a job interview.

The study conducted by researchers at Rice University and the University of Houston staged mock interviews, consisting of subjects with or without facial scars or acne. A total of 171 undergraduates participated in the mock interview. The interviews were conducted via computer screen. The interviewers’ eye movements were tracked during the interview. After the interview, the interviewers were asked questions about the candidate.

The researchers found that the interviewers were not blatantly discriminatory against persons with acne or birthmarks. However, they did tend to get distracted by applicants who suffered from acne and other facial scars. As a result of this distraction, they were less likely to focus on the positive aspects of the applicant's candidacy, and therefore the applicant was less likely to get the job.

When the researchers conducted another study using people who had experience in management and training instead of undergrad students, they found the same results. In this experiment, many of the interviewees suffered from acne or birthmarks. The researchers expected that these more experienced interviewers would be less likely to be distracted by the facial scars. However, they found that the trained persons were actually more likely to be distracted by facial scars, than the undergrad students.

This kind of looks-based discrimination seems to be subconscious, but the end result is the same.

Teen in San Francisco Drunk Driving Accident Enters No-Contest Plea

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A San Francisco teenager, who was driving a car involved in a fatal accident that killed a seventeen-year-old girl, has entered a no -contest plea to charges of driving drunk and causing an accident. The accident occurred on Highway 101, when the nineteen-year-old and his 4 friends were driving home from a party. The boy was also distracted by the music on the radio.

A combination of alcohol and distraction proved deadly, and the driver rear-ended his car into the back of a parked car. The victim who was sitting in the backseat, suffered serious internal injuries and died. The other teenagers in the car were also injured, but not seriously. According to police, all of the occupants of the car had been drinking, and the driver’s BAC level was about .16.

The teen driver entered a plea of no-contest to felony drunk driving last week. He could be sentenced to four years in prison. Sentencing will take place in January.

With a blood alcohol level of .16, this teenager was way above the legal drinking limit even for adult drivers. Drivers above the age of 21 are allowed a maximum BAC level of .08%. However, drivers below the age of 21 are barred from driving with a BAC level of .01% in their system.

College drinking or underage drinking is more widespread than California parents realize. However, every San Francisco car accident lawyer knows that underage DUI is pervasive in California, and is linked to several accidents every year. While anti-drunk driving strategies have helped reduce the number of drunk driving accidents involving adults, these have not been as effective at curbing DUI among underage drinkers. Teen drivers often fail to appreciate the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Veterans Eligible for Retroactive Traumatic Injury Benefits

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Department Of Defense has announced that it is extending retroactive traumatic injury benefits to service members who suffered injuries between October 7, 2000 and November 30, 2005.

Now, every service member who has coverage under the Service Members Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury protection program will be eligible for benefits effective December 1, 2005. The coverage applies to active duty members, reservists, National Guard members, funeral honors duty and one day muster duty.

The benefits will apply retroactively to service members who have suffered a traumatic injury between October 7, 2001 and November 30, 2005, regardless of the geographic location where the injury occurred. The benefits will apply retroactively regardless of whether the service member had coverage under the Service Member Group Life Insurance at the time of the injury.

Effective October 1, 2011, the requirement in the Veterans Benefit Improvement Act of 2010, which held that the injury during this period should occur in Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi freedom, is eliminated This means that those service members who suffered injuries while serving stateside, or in areas outside Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom during this period of time will be eligible for benefits under the Service Members Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection Program.

Under the program, veterans who sustained losses from serious traumatic brain injuries may be eligible for benefits ranging from between $25,000 and $100,000. These losses can include paralysis, burns, amputations or limb loss, facial reconstruction speech and hearing loss, vision loss, extensive hospitalization and severe lack of motor abilities due to traumatic brain injury.

Another fact that California veterans benefits lawyers want to alert National Guard and Reserve Members to, is that these service members may also be eligible for payments under the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Traumatic injury protection program, even if their injuries were not the result of military services.

Record Number of Discrimination Complaints Filed in 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2011 was a record year for workplace discrimination complaints, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receiving the highest number of complaints in its history.

According to the agency's annual report, there were a total of 99,947 allegations of unfair workplace practices filed during the fiscal year that ended in September 2011. That's the highest number of complaints that have been filed since the agency was launched in 1964.

These 99,947 allegations involved the kind of discrimination that California employment lawyers frequently come across. Most complaints were based on age, sex, religion, race and disability. There were even complaints alleging discrimination based on family medical history.

The agency this year also had several successes in recovering monetary compensation from employers. In all, the agency resolved a total of 112,499 cases, an increase of 7% from last year. In 2011, the agency also won substantial monetary payouts from employers. Overall, the agency won a record $365 million in monetary damages.

This included a consent decree that provided $3 million for 3M Company employees. Approximately 290 former employees of the company had filed a complaint against 3M Company, saying that the company denied leadership training, and fired hundreds of workers over the age of 45.

Another complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involved Verizon employees, who alleged that the company discriminated against them based on disability. The company disciplined or terminated the services of employees who suffered from disabilities. A consent decree resulted in a compensation of more than $20 million to more than 800 Verizon employees who filed the complaint. This was the largest disability discrimination settlement in a single lawsuit in the history of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Misleading Claims Lawsuits Push California Company into Bankruptcy

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Power Balance, a California-based company that manufactures performance bracelets, widely popular among sport athletes, has filed for Chapter 11 protection. The company has filed for bankruptcy protection in a court in Santa Ana.

California bankruptcy attorneys often find that the decision to file for Chapter 11 protection is taken due to legal problems. According to Power Balance representatives, the main factor in this bankruptcy has been litigation against the company alleging misleading advertising. The company promotes its bracelets with the embedded holograms, as containing frequencies that react positively with the body’s natural energy field, improving balance and flexibility.

There have been a number of class-action lawsuits against the company due to the ‘unauthorized’ marketing tactics of its Australian distributor. These lawsuits have cost the company millions of dollars in legal fees. The company recently settled a lawsuit for $1 million. The claims of misleading advertising came from Australian regulators who objected to the company’s claims that the performance bracelets improved strength, balance and dexterity. Late last year, the company was forced to issue a statement on its Australian website, saying that there is no scientific evidence to prove that any of the claims that the company made were true. The company also blames its financial troubles on the proliferation of counterfeit operations.

These legal issues have caused the company to reevaluate its position, and make the decision to file for bankruptcy protection, while it continues the process of restructuring. The company’s founders say that the business will be in operation while the restructuring process is completed.

The company has less than $10 million in assets, and between $10 million and $50 million in debt. Some of the biggest creditors of the company are the Sacramento Kings basketball team, the Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club as well as representatives for Kobe Bryant and other sports stars.

Serious Risk of Infant Brain Injury with Use of Bumbo Baby Seats

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Infants, whose parents or caregivers put them in Bumbo baby seats and place the seats on an elevated surface like a table, could be at risk of falling from the seat and suffering a serious brain injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Bumbo International, the manufacturer of the popular baby seats are once again warning parents against placing the baby seats on a table or other elevated surface.

Parents use these baby seats to encourage infants, who are able to hold their heads up, to sit upright. Most infants who use these seats are between 3 and 10 months old. Los Angeles brain injury lawyers find that these infants are at a much higher risk of a brain injury, because of their delicate, tender skulls that are much more susceptible to a fracture during a fall. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has come across a number of reports of fall accidents involving infants who had been seated in their Bumbo baby seats, and fell off from an elevated surface.

In 2007, the agency and the company had announced a recall of the seats after at least 20 reports of injuries involving babies who fell off the seat from elevated surfaces, like tables and countertops. These injuries included concussions and skull fractures. However, now the agency says that since that recall, it has received at least 45 reports of children who fell off the seats. Several of these incidents resulted in skull fractures.

The risk to a baby in a Bumbo baby seat is great because the baby can fall off even when he moves forward or lurches backward. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also has information about babies who were injured after they managed to get themselves out of baby seats that had been placed on the floor.

Police Investigating Sex Offender Who Worked As Hollywood Casting Assistant

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

As any Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will tell you, a conviction for a sex crime can follow you around for years after, impacting your life and your career. Hollywood police are investigating a registered sex offender, who has been working as a casting assistant in Hollywood, casting child actors for movies.

The man, Jason James Murphy is a registered sex offender who has a sex crime conviction. In 1996, when he was 19 years old, he kidnapped an eight-year-old boy in Seattle, and was convicted of molesting the child. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He also underwent sex offender counseling.

Upon his return from prison, he moved to California. Records show that he registered himself as a sex offender, as required under federal laws. He also began working as a casting assistant, dropping the Murphy from his name, and going by the name Jason James. He has cast child actors in a number of movies, including Super 8, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and School of Rock.

However, when the director of Super 8 found out that James had a sex crime conviction on his record, he brought it to the attention of Paramount studio executives, who informed police. Police are now looking at whether James complied with all sex offender requirements after his conviction. They are investigating his activities while he was working as a casting agent.

There are no reports of any child actors in contact with James, having been molested or abused in any way. However, police in West Hollywood are investigating whether any criminal acts did occur.

Police will be specifically investigating his name change from Jason James Murphy to Jason James, when he began working as a casting assistant. Persons who have been convicted of sex crimes are required to inform police of any name or address changes. James is also likely to have to explain his work in close proximity to children, when his conviction prohibits him from working directly and in close contact with minor children.

Debt Collector Poses as Sheriff to Try and Collect Debt

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A recent news report details how a debt collector for impersonated a Sheriff when trying to collect a $180 debt from a consumer. The consumer did ask for proper identification, and was then showed a gun from the impersonator. These actions led the debt collector to be arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer.

These types of debt collection methods are illegal when performed by a third-party debt collection agency, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) allows consumers to sue debt collectors for unfair methods. Unfair methods include misrepresentation, abusive language, privacy violations, and harassment. In addition to Federal statutes in the FDCPA, California legislature has passed additional consumer protection laws, typically known as the Rosenthal Act.

Debt collection is a big business - estimates put it at over 10 billion dollars a year. While many debt collection agencies follow the law, some companies and individuals obviously will go to extremes to collect a debt.

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