By Erin Tucker
Here’s a little perk for friends of Tucker Law. In addition to writing for our law firm, Kelly and her husband Paul, manage a 17-piece Big Band where Paul also plays lead trombone. Multi-talented, right?!
The band they manage is Turner Center Jazz Orchestra, and their opening concert is Thursday, September 29 at the Turner Center on the Drake Campus. In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the concert is featuring all Latin music with guest artist, Latin percussionist specialist, Ed East. He'll not only dazzle you with his performance, but he'll guide the audience through Latin rhythm patterns known as clavés. You’ll learn how to tell a mambo from a cha-cha.
Tucker Law has represented Hispanic clients and clients from many nations of origin, but since we’ve got an in with the band, in recognition of National Hispanic Heritage month we’ve worked out a deal whereby friends of Tucker Law get $5 off the regular ticket price. Just click on this link TCJO and enter the coupon code TUCKER to save $5.
As a little brain enrichment, here’s the back story on this commemorative month It was originally established in 1966 as Hispanic Week by legislation signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Twenty years later President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that changed the name to National Hispanic Heritage Month and expanded the week to a month: September 15 to October 15,
September 15 was chosen as the beginning date of NHHM because it’s the anniversary of the start of the Mexican War of Independence, which achieved independence from Spain 11 years later for Mexico and the Central American nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaraguan. Most Central American countries, Mexico and Chile continue to celebrate this designated month, and the United States supports the recognition with National Hispanic Heritage Month.
By Erin Tucker
Kelly has a friend, who for purposes of confidentiality we'll call Emily, who underwent a necessary medical intervention that left her temporarily disabled. She could still work in her position, which had always been remote, where she developed IT training courses, but for a few months, she needed extra time to complete tasks while her brain healed. Instead, she was reprimanded and written up by her supervisor. As time went on, Emily couldn't take the harassment and stress and resigned. She had been driven from her job.
Many people, including Emily's daughter who is an attorney, urged her to sue for compensation on grounds of discriminatory treatment of a disabled person, but in spite of being advised by many that she had a very strong case, Emily couldn't face reliving the emotional trauma she had suffered on the job by talking about it and giving depositions.
Recently, someone Emily worked with at the same company filed suit. Although not related to lack of disability accommodation, the suit cites the same supervisor who had drummed Emily out of her job.
Emily is thankful that her workmate has the courage to move forward with a lawsuit. Both Emily and her coworker hope that this particular supervisor will be held accountable and prevent future employees from having to suffer what they endured.
Although sometimes a supervisor or other person in authority in a workplace will single out one employee, usually there's a pattern of abuse. It's how they treat everyone under them. In other words, it's not you.
Toxic workplaces can make you feel crazy and cause you to start doubting your own eyes, ears, reason and sanity. It's important for you to know that — and trust yourself.
The other important thing to know is that if you've been unjustly wronged or discriminated against on the job, you won't be alone if you want to seek compensatory damages. We'll be with you every step of the way. It's what we do every day, so we know what to expect and how to handle anything that arises.
Call us if you need us.
By Kelly Sargent
Once a year Super Lawyers issues a call for nominations for the honor of being designated a Rising Star, a distinction that recognizes outstanding up-and-coming attorneys on a state-by-state basis. To be considered, attorneys must be 40 years or younger or have been practicing for less than 10 years. Attorneys cannot nominate themselves.
The nominees are then evaluated on the basis of 12 indicators of professional achievement by an independent research team. The candidates with the highest point totals from the first two rounds of selection then serve on a blue-ribbon peer review panel which evaluates the candidates within their primary practice area.
In the last step of the process, 2.5% of applicant attorneys are selected to receive the designation of Rising Star.
By Kelly Sargent
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and nonbinary people, communities and relationships have existed since long before these terms became familiar to most of us. Historians agree that there is evidence of same-sex love in every documented culture from as far back as Ancient Greece.
Well-researched studies of animal sexual behavior have revealed that from insects to reptiles to primates, same-sex coupling is relatively widespread across all animal groups, with bisexual and homosexual behavior patterns existing in more than 450 species.
In the Western world, however, lack of knowledge combined with fear resulted in persecution and murder of people who didn’t fit proscribed gender roles. In Germany repression of homosexuals began within days of Hitler becoming Chancellor. In the Nazi effort to ‘purify’ German society, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals. Many thousands of them were either put to death or died in prison.
In the United States, misinformation exacerbated by Puritanical thinking spawned hatred. As early as 1624, a Virginia Colony man was tried and hanged for being homosexual. During the Red Scare of the 1950s, right wing Cold War hawk Senator Joe McCarthy and his closeted gay sidekick, attorney Roy Cohen, intertwined communism and homosexuality as national security threats. Gays were hunted down, outed and forced to resign on charges of “immoral conduct”.
In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose trusted post-wartime staffer identified as a lesbian, nevertheless issued an executive order banning homosexuals from government employment including in the military, as a threat to national security.
In general those who didn’t conform to traditional male-female behavior were shamed, shunned, belittled, vilified and denied employment, health care and other benefits. It’s no wonder that people hid ‘in the closet’.
Gradually society is evolving to be more inclusive and just for non-traditional individuals. June was officially recognized by the US government as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in 1999. In an effort to eliminate prejudice and celebrate the diversity of America, President Barack Obama added the B and T (bisexual and transsexual) in 2011 to make it LGBT Pride Month. President Joe Biden has since added Q+ to the name. Elsewhere in the world, Pride is celebrated at different times of the year, but many cities observe it in June.
Though individual states’ numbers vary, the percentage of LGBTQ adults in the US has doubled from 3.5% in 2012 to 7.1% in 2022, according to a recent Gallup poll. And as the youngest Americans slowly outnumber and replace the oldest, Gallup predicts the number of LGBTQ-identifying adults will increase at a much faster rate than past generations.
Tucker Law supports diversity and fair treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, religion, creed, age or sexual identification and orientation. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace, reach out to us.
By Kelly Sargent
The National Safety Council recently reported that ten states experienced an increase of 35% or more in the the number of traffic deaths in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021:
Iowa is in that category: up 41% over the previous year. Which brings us to this weekend; AAA predicts that more than 39 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend. Even more people will be traveling close to home for get-togethers with friends or family.
Here are five commonsense ways for you and your family to be safe this weekend . . . and every weekend.
1. Wear your seatbelt
Extensive data has proven that wearing seatbelts prevents injuries and saves lives. Make sure that everyone buckles up — including you. If you’re driving with small children, be sure their car seat is the appropriate size and installed correctly, and don't forget to safely secure pets when traveling.
2. Don’t drink drive
Either don't consume alcohol or any other substance that might impair your driving or call a Lyft, Uber or a taxicab for a ride. If you're in a group, designate one person who will stay substance- and alcohol-free.
3. Stick to the speed limit
Speeding was a factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2020, according to the National Safety Council. You'll be less stressed and get better gas mileage if you don't speed. Watch out for other drivers who are speeding or driving recklessly.
4. Check your vehicle
If you'll be traveling farther than just around town, make sure. your vehicle is in good running order. The American Automotive Association expects to receive over 425,000 calls for help the weekend. You don't want to be one of them, so check the oil and tire pressure and windshield washer fluid, and make sure your vehicle's airbag is in working order.
5. Focus on the road
Don't text, dial the phone manually or read texts and emails while you're driving! Finalize your music playlist before you leave home or put a passenger in charge of the playlist.
Stay safe, and as always, we're here if you need us.
By Kelly Sargent
Honest to goodness, this happened to me yesterday! In my case, however, it was an expensive printer instead of an iPhone. But whether it's an iPhone or a printer, here's how the scam works.
An email pops in notifying you that your Amazon, credit card or bank account has been charged many hundreds of dollars for an iPhone or some other piece of pricey equipment, and careful guardians of your account that they are, they're protecting you by checking to make sure you actually purchased whatever it was. Obviously you're extremely alarmed because you didn't purchase anything of that description for so much money.
There's a number to call to verify the purchase or cancel it, and you're extremely grateful for the catch. . . but it's a scam. They're banking — quite literally — that you'll call, where you'll be connected to an extremely helpful customer service representative who says they can fix the problem. They just need to verify your bank account or credit card number.
Fortunately, I'm onto these phishing scams. First and most foremost, I did NOT open the email. I knew what the premise was because the "notification" about my account being charged was in the subject line. Next I checked with my husband Paul to make sure he hadn't purchased a printer. Then I trashed the email without opening it.
Here's advice from the Better Business Bureau:
Double check the sender’s email address. Phishing emails are usually designed to look like they come from a reputable source like your bank or Amazon. But look closely at the sender’s email to see if it’s really from an official source.
Check your bank for charges first. If the charge isn’t there, it’s likely a scam. Don’t contact the scammers. Erase the email and block the sender.
Never click on suspicious links. It’s best not to click on links in unsolicited emails you receive from unknown senders. These links could download malware onto your computer or mobile device, making you vulnerable to identity theft.
By Kelly Sargent
Rob Tucker, the original founder of Tucker Law is proud of his law partner, Erin Tucker . . . who also happens to be his daughter.
Though I'm not related, I have to admit that I’m proud of her too. In case you haven't met Erin, she is a genuinely kind, a quality that seems to be in increasingly short supply these days. She’s also what I would describe as quietly fierce on behalf of her clients. She’s so calm and even tempered that I don’t think her opponents see her coming — which I think is one of the reasons she’s so successful.
Erin has taken a workers’ compensation case all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court on behalf of a client.
Here’s the back story.
Workers' compensation is a form of insurance put into place in Iowa in 1913 that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment. Over time, injuries to certain designated parts of the body were listed on a schedule with a maximum amount of allowable compensation for the injury. For example, the benefits a worker who has lost hearing in both ears is entitled to are capped at a predetermined amount, and so on for all the other listed part of the body.
Below is the list designated body part injuries before 2017.
Injuries not listed on the schedule are considered to be injuries to the body as a whole, and the resulting disability is not limited by the schedule but determined instead by how much the injury affects the worker’s future earning capacity, and generally result in greater compensation. A shoulder injury had not previously been on the capped-benefits list, but in 2017 the Iowa Legislature passed a law that added shoulder to the list, limiting the amount of compensation.
In 2018 a worker who suffered an on-the-job shoulder injury came to Erin. Due to lack of education and language difficulties, the worker's opportunities have always been limited to manual labor. Having a disabled shoulder made that work impossible. (All evaluations of injury status, movement limitations and ability to work are all made by doctors and physical therapists.)
According to the list, which by that time included shoulder, the insurance company argued her injury was isolated and she was only entitled to a fixed amount of benefits instead of compensation based on how her life and ability to earn a living have been and will continue to be effected.
Erin took the case to trial, and the ruling was in her client’s favor, However, in September of 2020 the Iowa Workers’ Compensation commissioner reversed the lower judge’s decision and ruled that the injury was a “shoulder” injury, limiting Erin’s client to less benefits, and subsequent cases have been decided the same way.
Erin disagreed with the commissioner, appealed the ruling, and the Iowa Supreme Court agreed to review the case.
Here’s why that’s a big deal:
The Iowa Supreme Court decides cases that involve legal issues of substantial constitutional issues and issues of great public policy importance, and its decisions become case law that lower courts must follow. That means if the ISC were to decide in Erin’s client’s favor, it would change the law for everyone with a shoulder injury going forward and possibly previous shoulder-injury workers if they have appealed a ruling against them.
And so on February 23 Erin argued her client’s case before the ISC. It will be at least another month before the court releases it’s decision. Fingers crossed.
By Erin Tucker
Recently a friend of Kelly's who lives in Iowa asked me a question about the jurisdiction of a potential employment case, should she decide to file suit. She was uncertain about where she can file because although she lives in Iowa, she works remotely for an out-of-state employer. She wondered whether she had to file suit in her employer's state, or if she could file suit here Iowa where she lives.
Given the substantial increase in remote work taking place since the COVID pandemic, her question is becoming more frequent. Generally, if a company does business in Iowa, and the worker is located in Iowa, unless there is a contract which states otherwise, the company is subject to the laws in Iowa. In other words, Kelly's friend could file a claim in Iowa even though the company is based out of state.
With more jobs being performed remotely, there's bound to be in increase in cases involving employees who work for out-of-state companies. In case you or someone you know has an employment grievance, I thought it might be useful for you to know a little more about what your options are. As always, we're here to help if you need us.
By Kelly Sargent
Over the past few weeks here in Central Iowa, temperatures have fluctuated by 40 and even 50 degrees!! Going from a high of 35 Fahrenheit one day to a low of 15 below the next. Bottom line: you need to be prepared. Here are a few tips for surviving, sometimes literally, in cold and snowy weather.
Cold Weather Driving Tips
Tips for Driving in the Snow
By Kelly Sargent
Have you been getting text messages notifying you that such-and-such company has a “reward” or gift card for you? Paul and I have been getting one from “ATT “ (notice it’s not AT&T) about every other day. The message says, “ATT Free Msg: November bill is paid. Thanks, Here’s a little gift for you: . . . “ There are more words after that, but I never click on it to see what else it says because I know it’s a scam.
For awhile I was getting frequent text messages supposedly from Home Depot offering me a “reward”. My guess is that the perpetrators targeted me using the Home Depot name because we had made a large purchase from the company some months before, probably in their minds making it more likely that I'd fall for it.
Speaking of gift cards, the Better Business Bureau issued a bulletin warning about gift cards scams — not the offer of a ‘free’ one as we were just discussing, but ones that are available for purchase either online or in stores.
Here are their tips and cautions:
Beware of obscure websites advertising gift cards for popular retailers at steep discounts. These websites may be using these offers to steal payment card numbers or other personal information. Instead, go directly to the merchant and purchase a card from them.
Also be wary of websites that offer to check your gift card's balance. Some websites that claim to check your gift card balance are really a means of stealing money off your card. These sites ask for your card’s ID number and PIN or security code, and use the information to drain the money off your card.
It you're buying a physical gift card, look carefully at the packaging for any tears, wrinkles, or other indications of tampering, and see if the PIN is exposed. Thieves are known to remove gift cards from the display rack and record the numbers associated with that card, including the activation PIN. If anything looks suspicious, it’s best to take a different card and turn in the compromised card to the store’s customer service desk.
Treat a gift card like cash. If it's lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately. Most issuers have toll-free telephone numbers printed on the card or available online to report a lost or stolen card.
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