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Charleston WV Personal Injury Law Blog

If you were fired unjustly, should you fight for severance pay?

Employees who have lost their jobs could be eligible for some type of severance pay to compensate for lost wages and allow for time to find alternate employment. However, workers who have been fired unjustly may not fully understand their rights, including the right to severance pay in some situations. This benefit is typically based upon the length of employment, the employment contract and the circumstances surrounding the termination.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to provide severance to employees. Typically, this benefit is based upon an agreement between the employer and employee. This agreement and the terms of employment could be outlined in an employee handbook or contract. If a West Virginia worker feels that he or she was fired unjustly and does not receive severance, legal options are available.

Fatal workplace accidents continue to plague mining industry

Due to the inherent dangers of mining, fatal accidents have always been a common issue in the industry. Despite modern advances in technology and safety standards, West Virginia leads the United States in the number of fatal workplace accidents involving miners. From 2004 to early 2015, the state has seen 120 miners die on the job. In 2010, the state saw the country's worst mining disaster in 40 years. 

This particular accident was an explosion that occurred inside the Upper Big Branch mine and claimed the lives of 29 workers. It was caused by a build up of methane gas inside the mine, and rescue crews were unable to get inside for five days. The CEO of the mining company was eventually charged with violating safety standards. 

Traumatic brain injuries commonly sustained in car accidents

Car crashes often have lingering repercussions, some of which can haunt victims for the rest of their lives. Traumatic brain injuries are common consequences of car accidents, ranging from mild concussions to grave brain damage. The impact of a brain injury can last days or weeks or may have a permanent effect on a West Virginia resident's ability to be independent. 

A traumatic brain injury is any damage sustained due to an external force, such as a car accident, that disrupts normal function of the brain. One of the most common types of brain injuries sustained in car accidents is the concussion. When a victim sustains a concussion, he or she may lose consciousness or feel dizzy afterward. A contusion is also possible in the event of a collision; this particular injury is a bruise, or bleeding, on the brain. 

Sexual harassment and discrimination investigation continues

After allegations of sexual harassment within the West Virginia National Guard emerged, the organization has chosen to speak out about the troubling reports. According to an investigation by a local media source, this chapter of the National Guard has a troubling history with alleged sexual harassment and discrimination against women. The organization has publicly stated its commitment to providing a safe and respectful environment for all servicemen and women. 

It has been reported that since 2009, 13 women have come forward with claims of sexual advances and other inappropriate behavior. One women who spoke out claimed that she did not know where to turn for help after being victimized by inappropriate behavior. The Guard insists that it is moving in the right direction by providing an open and honest environment and making it clear that harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. 

Mining company sued over fatal accident

A West Virginia woman has filed a lawsuit against a mining company after her husband died while working on a job site. The fatal accident occurred while the man was employed by Patriot Coal Services, working as an electrical processes specialist. The mining company, along with other defendants, are named in the wrongful death claim. 

The wife of the deceased worker claims that her husband's employers made several changes to filter presses that ultimately affected the way that the presses operated. The presses malfunctioned, and a worker was called in to repair the broken machinery. As the worker was examining the equipment, it malfunctioned again, causing fatal injuries. 

If hurt by a negligent driver, distraction may be the cause.

Today's drivers are more susceptible to distracted driving than ever before. Smartphones and technologically advanced vehicles make the world more connected, but these advances can also distract drivers, placing all motorists at higher risk for accidents. When a person is hurt by a negligent driver in an accident, it is possible that distraction of some kind played a role in the collision. 

West Virginia residents know that texting and driving is one of the most common distractions on American roadways, and it is not surprising that teenagers are some of the most distracted drivers on the roads. While the number of teens who text while driving has actually decreased, other types of distractions have caused a disproportionate number of accidents for teenage drivers. Besides texting, teenagers have admitted to a multitude of disturbing and dangerous actions behind the wheel, including changing clothes. 

West Virginia fatal car wreck leaves motherless children injured

A recent tragedy occurred on the West Virginia Turnpike that has left two children without a mother and fighting for their lives. A third child, reportedly unrelated to the two, is also listed in critical condition. Murder charges have been filed in the fatal car wreck. The suspect is apparently on probation in another state and has charges against him in a third state.

Reports indicate that the 43-year-old suspect exited the turnpike near a toll booth. Authorities claim that he re-entered traffic on the interstate headed in the wrong direction. The man's vehicle reportedly swiped the mirror of an oncoming car, which swerved to avoid a collision, and his vehicle then smashed into the next oncoming car. Sadly, the 43-year-old woman driving the car was killed instantly.

Lawsuit alleges wrongful discharge, sex discrimination

The attitude toward women in the workforce in West Virginia and across the country has improved greatly over the course of the last 50 years. However, there are still improvements that need to be made. One recently filed lawsuit against Alcon Laboratories and Novartis sheds some light on sex discrimination issues that may still be occurring in this country.

The lawsuit was filed by two former female employees of Alcon Laboratories who claim that male executives created a hostile work environment and inhibited the advancement of their careers despite their qualifications. One of the woman is seeking $10 million and reinstatement. She claims that she is a victim of wrongful termination, pay discrimination and retaliation. In court papers, she argues that she received lower performance ratings because she went on maternity leave and was told that she would not receive raises until she proved herself. According to her complaint, she was fired while on medical leave that was federally protected and after she questioned an executive regarding how the company would address gender issues.

Coach who was fired unjustly by diocese receives $4 million

It seems that every day, stories of hazing or sexual crimes in this country's schools are making national news. While students in West Virginia and across the country are expected to be held responsible, school administrators are also coming under fire for the handling of the incidents. Because of this, the fact that one coach was fired unjustly after reporting hazing on the team he coached seems especially shocking. The diocese which employed, and then fired, the coach recently agreed to settle his lawsuit for $4 million.

The plaintiff in the case was a coach at the high school in the fall of 2012. Reports indicate that, just before the school dismissed for winter break, he discovered that some of the students on the team were conducting activities related to hazing. At that time, he claims he reported the behavior to school authorities.

Are you a victim of sex discrimination at work?

Sex discrimination is unacceptable and inappropriate in any workplace. West Virginia workers who have been treated differently at work because of their gender have the right to take actions and seek legal resolutions to their situations. If you are unsure if you are a victim of sex discrimination, it can be beneficial to seek a case evaluation to understand the available legal options. 

Sex discrimination is any behavior or treatment that negatively impacts a person's employment or the terms of his or her job. For example, an employer cannot treat an employee differently because of his or her gender. Typically, sex discrimination is based on stereotypical assumptions or because an employee may not conform to what is considered to be gender norms.