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Ask Our Lawyer - September 2003

Q: I work at a local manufacturing shop. I got hurt on the job recently, and filed a worker's comp claim. Shortly after I returned to work, I got fired, and I don't think they had any reason. Also, when they fired me, they didn't pay me my accrued vacation pay. What can I do?

A: Maybe quite a lot. One of the first issues to consider is the reason or reasons you were fired. Generally, employers will give some reason as to why an employee was being fired. Most states, including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, have provisions in their statutes that forbid so-called "retaliatory discharge," or being fired for filing a worker's compensation claim. While it may be obvious to us to make the connection between the worker's comp claim and the firing, the employers will often attempt to justify the discharge with evidence that there were other reasons for the discharge. Good record-keeping and sympathetic witnesses can help overcome this hurdle. Penalties for retaliatory discharge can include back pay, reinstatement and attorney's fees. In addition, the wage claim statutes in Indiana and Illinois also require that, upon discharge, employees are compensated for accrued vacation time, usually by the next scheduled payday. Failure to do so may lead to additional penalties and an award of attorney's fees. The answer is much less clear under Ohio law and may depend on whether the employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement or employed by a state or municipal agency. There may be disagreements, however, over whether the time has been accrued or not, or how much has been accrued. It is important that you speak to someone about these issues as soon as possible to determine your rights and remedies.


SOMETIMES, IT SEEMS LIKE WE OUTSMART OURSELVES

As one of my friends from southern Illinois used to say, 'the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.' Many of us have participated in the fight over helmet laws, and one of the prime but false arguments of the helmet brigades is their claim that helmets are safer. That thought occurred to me as I was reading a recent article in Time magazine about the use of helmets in high school and college football. The research they cited showed that as the use of helmets increased, the amount of brain, head and spine injuries also increased. The more the technology advanced, the more injuries occurred. The helmet brigades ought to take a look at that and re-evaluate their position.


BOOGIE COMMENTS - "CHOPPER" IS A MAESTRO!


It happens every year, a "Biker Honey" contest somewhere. It also sometimes happens that a young woman enters who is not the typical stereotype for those functions. The 2003 Boogie was no exception. Except, at the Boogie, there was Chopper. Chopper presents these contestants like a conductor of the Chicago Symphony. This year Chopper was challenged by a young woman who was not the typical contestant but exhibited, spirit, courage and desire to win. I can only speculate as to her motivation to enter but you could sense her determination- and Chopper sensed it first. He was not about to see her eliminated in the first round. The crowd could have challenged his first applause reading but even the dullest of us could sense what was happening- Chopper was leading us to appreciate her inner beauty. Without Chopper's help she made it through the second round, and through the third round. As the contest proceeded you could feel the crowd's appreciation for this young woman. Even though she did not win first place she gave those stereotypes a run for their money. If there was a prize for courage, and there should be, she would have won first place. If there was a prize for inspiration, and there should be, she won our hearts. Somewhere there is a young lady, a long-gone crowd and this writer who is better off for this experience. And Chopper is a Maestro, a true Leonard Bernstein of the "Biker Honey" contest.

ABATE MEMBER NEEDS YOUR HELP

One of our fellow bikers was involved in an accident, and he needs your help. We are looking to speak to anyone who witnessed an accident that happened at 1:56 p.m. on July 29th, 2003 at or near the intersection of East Beecher Street and South East Street, Indianapolis. If you witnessed or have any information about this accident, please call Rod Taylor at 635-9000 or 1-800-25 RIDER.

NEXT MONTH - BATTLE LOOMS OVER ORDINANCE THAT DISCRIMINATES AGAINST BIKERS IN EAST PEORIA, ILLINOIS. AS THE OLD ILLINOIS SENATOR EV DIRKSEN USED TO SAY "THAT [ORDINANCE] WON'T PLAY IN PEORIA

Ride safe and free,
Rod Taylor
Abate Legal Services

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: ASK OUR LAWYER, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206 2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com

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