Ohio Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19 FAQ Infographic

We hope this infographic is helpful to you. Our COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation attorneys are available to answer questions and help you through your claims process, should you proceed. You can email us at info@barkanmeizlish.com, or call 614-221-4221. We hope you are staying safe and well during the current situation, and staying home to help #flattenthecurve.

Economic Impact Payments Eligibility for Non-Filers

Economic Impact Payments: Non-Filer Need to Knows 

The United States Federal Government has officially started rolling out Economic Impact Payments to eligible citizens. If you filed 2018 and 2019 taxes, and opted for direct refund deposits, your check should be direct deposited. If you opted to have your refund mailed, your stimulus check will be mailed to you.  However, if you did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019, you may be confused about what steps you need to take.

Most recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Retirement, or survivor benefits will receive benefits automatically. On the other hand, some recipients of Federal aid programs are not eligible for the same automatic relief. Groups that do not qualify for automatic relief include:

  • Individuals who receive veteran’s disability compensation,
  • A pension, or
  • Survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or
  • Individual’s whose income level was lower than federal tax filing requirements

If you fall into any of the above categories, you must take additional steps to receive your economic impact payment. Here is what you need to do!

First, please visit THIS page. You will be able to fill out the required “mini” tax return form. This form is used instead of a traditional tax return form. After you create your account and submit your application, watch your emails.  Once completed, you will receive a confirmation email. Once you have completed these steps, the process for receiving your economic impact payment check will be in motion.

If you still have questions about how you may be impacted by these rules, a social security attorney can help.

Social Media As Evidence and the SSA

Can An Administrative Law Judge Use Social Media as Evidence?

Social media constantly evolves. Keeping up with social media developments can be a huge task. Lawmakers and attorneys have a responsibility, within reason, to keep up with these changes. They may impact existing laws and regulations. Some changes can even lead to the creation of new laws. We previously reported that Facebook posts could be used in an ALJ’s decision on your Social Security Disability claim. However, the law continues to evolve. Now, there are some limitations on an ALJ’s ability to use your social media as evidence.

Updated Laws and Guidelines

Recent guideline changes impact how ALJ’s use social media in their rulings. The Social Security Administration guidelines state that, “adjudicators and hearing office staff must not use Internet sites and social media networks to obtain information about claimants to adjudicate cases.” This means that an Administrative Law Judge cannot use your social media as evidence against you. There are exceptions to the rule. These exceptions involve the Cooperative Disability Investigation Unit (CDIU). If a CDIU investigation finds social media content as appropriate evidence, it can be used by an ALJ in their decision-making. Your ALJ should not use your social media to directly rule against your SSDI claim unless approved to do so.

Responsible Social Media Usage

At the end of the day, however, social media posts can be more public than intended. You never know who is looking at your content, or when a post will come into question in a court of law. Take it from our Social Security Disability Attorney, Mindy Yocum:  “Never post anything on social media that you would not want read aloud in court!”

If you are filing a Social Security Disability Insurance claim, and need guidance through the process, give us a call today.

Important Updates Regarding Workers’ Compensation for First Responders Diagnosed with PTSD:

For some years now in Ohio, lawmakers have been working on a bill that would allow first responders to apply for workers’ compensation if they receive a PTSD diagnosis. The current legislature in Ohio states that in order to receive compensation for PTSD, a physical injury must also be present. This has historically prevented individuals, like first responders, who witness a traumatic event from receiving benefits despite having their lives impact and work inhibited. Several factors have caused push back on the bill for the last nine years. The anticipated increase in workers’ compensation costs by expanding the eligibility criteria has drawn skepticism, as well as fear of a snowball effect following the expanded guideline.

That all being said, this expansion would allow for many workers affected by PTSD to apply for potentially life-saving benefits. The bill passed in the House on February 12th, 2020 and is scheduled for consideration in the Senate.

How Doxing and Revenge Porn Laws are Evolving in Ohio

The World and Your Private Images are at Your Fingertips…and Everyone Else’s

In today’s technology focused society, almost everyone carries a weapon in their pocket —their smart phones. The exchange of a phone number, formally the key to communication, is virtually and literally no longer necessary. Social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, connect individuals across the globe without any formal information exchange. This makes sharing, posting, and interacting as simple as one touch on a screen. While there are certainly many ways that social media benefits people globally- bringing them together, making activism easier, and bridging oceans and languages- comes an equal number of potential harmful behaviors.

What is Doxing?

With the simple tap of a screen, a smartphone can go from a communication device into a weapon. The dissemination of personal information- social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, passwords, employer, work location- without an individual’s consent is called ‘doxing‘.

Doxing has become an increasingly common online victimization tactic. Doxing is commonly used against individuals with online presences, such as influencers or politicians, but is not limited to public figures. It has become increasingly commonplace to meet people who have been the victims of doxing either by vindictive exes or simply a person with an intent to harm or complicate someone’s life. Victims of doxing are, unfortunately, often the targets of an additionally hateful crime that ruins lives: revenge porn.

What is Revenge Porn?

While pornography itself is not a new concept, the mass distribution of pornography via digital platforms is constantly evolving. Camera phones have made taking sexually explicit images increasingly easy and common among all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Sending and receiving these images is as normalized for many young people who have grown up with access to this technology, much like the prior generations’ ability to pass a note in the hallway. Many of these exchanges are consensual when they begin. There is an often unspoken agreement that these images are only meant for the original recipient. Once the relationship sours, the potential for revenge porn increases.

Revenge Porn or Non-consensual Pornography is a broad categorization of criminal and non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit content. The term was popularized in the early part of the last decade, when activists such as activist Charlotte Laws and attorney Carrie Goldberg  began using their public platforms to educate the public on these types of crime.

As of today, 45 states, D.C., and one U.S. territory have revenge porn laws. The passing of such laws has been a concerted effort among activists. This an amazing first step for victims of revenge porn. However, it is only the start. Many of these statutes are intentionally vague due to fear of conflict with the First Amendment. Cases are often not actively pursued by law enforcement without direct advocacy. The fight to protect victims of revenge and non-consensual pornography is ongoing. It will continue to be fought until the proper protections are put in place for victims.

What Can I Do if I Am the Victim of Revenge Porn? Are There Protections for Me?

In Ohio, R.C. § 2917.211, Non-consensual dissemination of private images, makes it illegal for someone to distribute images of another person when:

  1. The person in the image is 18 or older;
  2. The person in the image can be identified, either from the image itself or the context in which the image was disseminated;
  3. The person is nude or engaged in a sexual act;
  4. The image is disseminated without the person’s consent;
  5. and with intent to harm.

Thus, R.C. § 2917.211 makes sending illicit, sexual imagery of a person over the age of 18 with harmful intent a misdemeanor, with varying penalties depending on whether the violator is a repeat offender.

Also, in Ohio R.C. § 2307.66 gives victims of  non-consensual dissemination of private images a civil cause of action, meaning the right to sue the individual for damages. The damages include any of the following:

  • An injunction or temporary restraining order prohibiting further dissemination of the image;
  • Compensatory and punitive damages;
  • That the offender pays the victim’s reasonable attorneys’ fees; and/or
  • That the offender covers the court costs incurred by the victim in bringing the civil action.

An important inclusion in this statute is  “the victim shall be presumed to have suffered harm as a result of the non-consensual dissemination.” This means the damage caused by any violation of R.C. § 2917.211 is automatically assumed if it is upheld as a violation in court. This allows victims the opportunity to seek damages without “proof” of the harm caused by the dissemination of the illicit images.

Who Can I Ask for Help?

Speaking with an attorney can help you determine what your rights are. It can also help you understand any exceptions that may disqualify you from pursuing any potential damages claim. Laws such as these help victims of doxing and revenge porn fight for justice. These types of crimes have become a worldwide phenomenon and creating protections to fight for victims is crucial.  To speak with an attorney about your situation, call Barkan Meizlish, LLP at (800)-274-5297 or send us an email at info@barkanmeizlish.com.

How Victims Of Wage Theft Can Fight Back: Fee-Shifting Protections and the FLSA

My Employer Didn’t Pay Me Correctly but I Can’t Afford an Attorney, Now What?

Have you ever worked somewhere that didn’t pay you on time, or didn’t pay your wages properly? If yes, you probably talked about it with a friend or family member who suggested you pursue legal action. Your response may have been that you couldn’t afford a FLSA attorney, you didn’t have the time to pursue it, or that the time and cost it would take wouldn’t be worth it since it wasn’t THAT big of a deal. If you’ve ever been the victim of wage theft, you may have found yourself in this difficult position. The big question facing most victims of wage theft is- is pursuing this legally worth the money that I lost?

You are not alone in this experience. Fortunately, this does not have to be your reality and there are attorneys that will help you with no cost out of pocket to you!

Under the federal law, 29 U.S.C.sec216(b), recovery of attorney’s fee is a required aspect of a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violation claim. In simpler terms, this means when a successful FLSA claim is filed, the Court can make it the employer’s responsibility to pay for the cost of your attorney’s services. This is incredibly important for victims of wage theft and other violations of the FLSA to be aware of, as it can be the deciding factor for many who are on the fence about pursuing legal action.

What Does This Mean for Me?

As the victim of wage theft, these rules and guidelines help ensure that even the most seemingly harmless cases (emphasis on ‘seemingly’) are taken seriously by the American legal system. Often, the monetary value of a wage theft complaint is less than the potential cost of legal assistance for resolving the issue. This shifting of the attorney fees from the employee to the employer in wage theft cases is meant to eliminate the issue that may deter employees from pursuing legal action. With the federal minimum wage set at $7.25, many hourly employees are not capable of retaining legal counsel, and the fee shifting structure of the law eliminates that concern. The FLSA allows employees an opportunity to fight against an employer who has done them wrong, no matter how small the amount of wages stolen. However, it is also important to note that the statute necessities that a plaintiff receive a judgement in their favor, rather than the employers favor, for the fee-shifting to be upheld by a court.

Okay, I Want to Take My Claim to Court

Hopefully, this information has given you some peace of mind and let you know the most important part of all of this: you deserve to be treated fairly by your employer. Your next step is to contact an attorney and discuss your case. The Paycheck Warriors at Barkan Meizlish, LLP are here to help. Send us an email at info@barkanmeizlish.com or give us a call at (800)-274-5297 for more information.

Enhanced Employees, Enhanced Productivity? Not Necessarily. How Technological Advancements, Such As Micro-Chipping for Humans, Could Be Harmful to Employees.

Modified Mentalities:

If you were on YouTube in the early half of the last decade, you may remember Neil Harbisson’s incredible Ted Talk “I listen to color.” For those who do not recall, Harbisson discusses his cranial implant and its associated external antenna. The implant processes color and turns them into sound waves within his skull. Having lived his whole live colorblind, Harbisson went from seeing grey scale to processing color in a way only made possible by technology.

All of this is to say that there has been an active venture to technologically modify humans for some time. It should come as no surprise that employers have tried to utilize this fascinating trend to appeal to a hip and young pool of prospective employees, and potentially exert control over them in an unprecedented way in years to come.

Blurring Boundaries:

An article published on February 3rd, 2020 by marketwatch.com outlined the proposed legislature in the state of Indiana that would ban employers from requiring their employees to receive mandatory microchip implants. While it seems like actual cases of employers expecting their employees to receive these small, sub-dermal implants, it is an important discussion to be having in 2020. In the discussion surrounding the benefits of micro-chipping employees on a voluntary (for now) basis, there seems to be a reoccurring focus on productivity—simplify your employee’s life, improve their work ethic. It is impossible to overlook the statistics that show the contrary.

In a world where your employer is quite literally under your skin, how can employees take time for themselves or remove the potential stress of feeling on-the-clock 24/7? A recent op-ed featured in Bloomberg focused on the “always on” mentality many workers feel they cannot switch off, leading to burn out and lowered productivity. The answer to employee burnout and dissatisfaction, then, seems to be a focus on intentional away time from work rather than an increased presence in employee’s day-to-day life.

Expectations Vs. Reality:

The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 since 2009, and yet employers continue expect more and more of their workers. In the current gig economy, many workers are left scraping together what they can from freelance or independent contracting work, desperately waiting for a full-time opportunity to take the burden of gig work off their shoulders. While many states have taken preventative action and outlawed mandatory microchip implants for employees, many people are still left questioning just how far an employer may be willing to go for their companies’ best interest. These sorts of changes will continue to challenge the current state of labor and employment law, and we must constantly be adapting to prepare ourselves for these upcoming challenges.

 


If you have any concerns about your employers’ treatment of their employees, give us a call today at 800-274-5297.

Mara Siegel is the Marketing Director at Barkan Meizlish DeRose Wentz McInerney Peifer, LLP.

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