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.
June is Pride Month
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.
iPhone Purchase Scam Alert
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.
Erin and the Iowa Supreme Court
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.
In case you're working remotely
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.
What can we say; it's Iowa
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
Tis the season . . . for scammers
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.
A happy ending
By Kelly Sargent
A big thank you to everyone who shared our posts in the interests of finding Little Ginger Boy a home — and of course special thanks to Erin and Rob for letting me borrow the Tucker Law website and Facebook page to look for a home for him. The good news is that at last he has one.
You may remember his story; he was dumped on a gravel road in a very rural Iowa, a few miles north of the Missouri border. By the time a kind woman found him, he was skinny, flea-infested and had worms and ear mites. With all the other animals she already has on the farm to take care of, she didn't feel she could afford one more. He would have had to live in a shed if he stayed with her, and she didn't want that for him, so she contacted me to see if I could find him a home.
Due to the circumstances, a compassionate veterinarian charged next to nothing to vaccinate and neuter LGB and for medications to treat his infestations. Meanwhile I was writing and posting about his need for a home.
One woman was interested right out of the box, but unbeknownst to both of us, she wasn't getting my private messages and of course not responding to them since wasn't seeing them, so I kept looking. I heard from a second interested party from Fort Dodge who wanted him, but a tragedy occurred in her extended family, and she stopped communicating.
Bummer. Then out of the blue, the first interested party found my messages, contacted me and said, "Yes, I really want him! I just didn't get your messages." We were golden — or so I thought. But on the very day we were picking up LGB to make the transfer, she called to tell me she wouldn't be able to take him because her dad had just been put into hospice care.
We had to start all over. In the meantime, we kept LGB and were taking conscientious care of him. We took him to our veterinarian to get him tested for feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency and feline coronavirus. Fortunately he was negative for all three. We also had the vet thoroughly check and clean his ears and perform a fecal analysis to see if he was clear of worms. No more worms, but his ears still required medication.
His original rescuer had told us several times that he was "very energetic". We weren't sure if that was code for "troublesome mischief-maker", but oh my goodness, he turned out to be such a loving little boy. We were completely smitten and would have kept him in a New York minute, but we have a resident cat of many years named Shye — so named because she is — who really needs to be an only cat.
It was less than ideal for Shye and LGB to be kept alternately sequestered, but we had no other recourse. Our solution was playing musical cats 18 hours a day. We'd bring LGB downstairs and give him the run of the house while Shye was shut in the bedroom. Then we'd transfer LGB to our upstairs office while Shye was able to roam freely.
In the last week, there was a sudden flurry of interest. One woman in particular seemed perfect: recently widowed, she's retired and lives alone, but is young enough to be able to be with him his whole life. Our thought was that they could help each other heal.
We delivered LGB to her Monday night. She has named him Henry, and he's going to get lots and lots of attention. And yes, we miss him. We'd had him for a full two weeks, which was plenty of time for Paul and me to get quite attached to him. (I shed a few tears today as I wrote this.) But we're thrilled to see him in established in such favorable circumstances and adapting so well.
Above photo: My husband Paul and LGB having one last snuggle. The first of the below photos is of LGB and his favorite place to be at our house. The bottom three are of LGB aka Henry in his new home.
Ginger Boy still needs a home
By Kelly Sargent
Erin is graciously letting me hijack Tucker Law one more time to see if we can find a home for this little ginger boy. We thought we'd found a home for him, but they've gone quiet.
He's getting neutered and vaccinated on October 20, and we'll pick him up from southwest Iowa on the 30th. If you don't have room for him, will you ask friends and family if they might have room for him? Surely there's somebody somewhere who will love him.
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