The 39th Annual Oakland Mayor’s Toy Drive will return for the ninth straight year for its opening reception to the offices of Boxer & Gerson, LLP in the Rotunda Building at Frank G Ogawa Plaza on December 7.
The firm began the reception in 2009 as strictly an in-house affair encouraging employees to donate to the drive while enjoying cookies and hot chocolate in a low-key setting. It has since grown to attract 41 sponsors to a fun-filled reception that draws some 250 guests from the entire Oakland workers’ compensation community. Their “price of admission” to the event is either five unwrapped non-violent toys suitable for children up to 12 years old, or a check for $50 that goes toward buying toys.
The drive collects and distributes toys during the holiday season to needy children throughout the Oakland metropolitan area.
As in years past, the dinner-time affair (5-8 p.m.) will feature catered finger foods and drinks, musical entertainment, and a raffle item that should engender plentiful interest during the event: a signed Golden State Warriors game jersey from All-Star power forward Draymond Green.
Visiting dignitaries will include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, recently appointed Fire Chief Darin White, and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Presiding Judge Gene Lam. Music will be provided by the Pacific Boychoir Academy, the Piedmont Troubadours, and the George Spencer Trio.
“The Toy Drive and our role in it seems to get bigger every year,” says Boxer & Gerson Partner Maria Sager, whose brainchild the reception was nine years ago and who still plays a lead role in the abundant planning to which many other firm employees contribute.
Sager notes that Boxer & Gerson employees continue to participate in an in-house toy drive of their own in the days leading up to the reception. Their contributions are added to the larger drive that last year yielded 32 bins of toys from the reception, along with $18,000 in checks. This year, the drive has already collected nearly $30,000 as of mid-November.
“We’re very happy to keep growing this event,” says Sager. “It is always a happy occasion filled with holiday spirit, and most importantly, it ensures that thousands of Oakland children are gifted with toys who may otherwise have gone without.”
Boxer & Gerson, LLP has once again earned top Tier 1 rankings for Oakland law firms in two different practice areas by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® for the Eighth Edition of “Best Law Firms.” The firm earned Tier 1 recognition in the workers’ compensation area for the third consecutive year, while its product liability services earned Tier 1 ranking for the first time.Product liability is a subset of the firm’s personal injury practice area, headed up by Partners Gary Roth and Associate Attorney Eric Ritigstein.Meanwhile, the remaining nearly 20 attorneys in the firm practice in the workers’ compensation area, making it the largest worker’s comp firm in Northern California.
In addition, three of the firm’s attorneys—Co-Founding Partner Michael Gerson, Managing Partner John Harrigan, and recently retired Partner John Anton, were honored individually as Best Lawyers® for 2018. Gerson and Harrigan were named on the claimants’ side in workers’ compensation, while Anton was honored on the plaintiffs’ side in personal injury and product liability.
The U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. This year, the rankings incorporated 7.3 million evaluations of more than 54,000 individual leading lawyers collected by Best Lawyers® in its most recent annual survey.
The survey solicited feedback from clients on firms’ practice groups, level of expertise, responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether they would refer another client to the firm.
Boxer & Gerson Managing Partner John Harrigan once again noted the firm’s appreciation for the recognition by a respected third party.
“The fact that these awards recognize specific feedback from clients and peers in the legal profession is of course gratifying,” he said. “No one ever thinks about winning awards when they’re faced with the challenge of simply handling cases for clients one by one. The most important award is when we have simply done collective good work for our clients.”
Boxer & Gerson, LLP is pleased to help spread the word about Kids’ Chance Awareness Week, taking place this year from November 13-17. Kids’ Chance is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing need-based college scholarships to the children of workers who have been injured or killed on the job.
Founded in Georgia in 1988, the organization has 28 state chapters, with Boxer & Gerson having been a founding partner of Kids’ Chance California in 2012.
Partner Dennis Popalardo
joined the California group’s 12-member board early in 2013, and the entire firm continues to support the organization’s mission financially, by providing occasional meeting space, helping to promote public awareness, and various other means.
Kids’ Chance is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Tax-deductible contributions can be made on the group’s website at kidschanceca.org
. The site also features brief profiles
highlighting the impact of the scholarships on the lives of recent recipients attending a variety of California colleges and universities.
Boxer & Gerson Partner Maria Sager
recently sat on a featured panel at the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Convention held in Rohnert Park. The two-day late August conference, entitled “Building Bridges to a Stronger Tomorrow,” attracted some 300 employers from around the state and beyond, and was held at the DoubleTree Hilton Wine County Hotel.
Sager’s panel discussion, “California Employer’s Guide to Workers’ Compensation,” also featured San Francisco-based workers’ compensation defense attorney Elizabeth Furlow and Judge Sharon Velzey of the State Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board District Office in Van Nuys. The trio covered the basics along with recent developments in California workers’ comp law, then fielded audience questions, many of which centered around the perennial topic of the distinctions between employees and independent contractors. Mis-categorizing those very different worker classes can be quite costly for employers.
In addition, Sager, a certified workers’ compensation specialist, recently accepted the position of vice-chair of the California State Bar Workers’ Compensation Executive Committee,
where she served as treasurer last year. The one-year appointment will see her help guide the committee’s mission to serve the workers’ comp community with public outreach, education and counsel on legislation that affects workers’ compensation law.
Sager’s Boxer & Gerson colleague Justin Litvack also serves on the 14-member committee of attorneys and judges who volunteer their services from around the state.
Boxer & Gerson Associate Attorney Jenny Jerez recently assumed the presidency of the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) East Bay Chapter after having served as the organization’s vice-president over the past year.
The statewide organization, founded in 1966, engages in legal, policy and educational advocacy activities in the workers’ compensation field from its headquarters near the State Capitol in Sacramento. From there, it monitors court cases and legislation that affect working people in the state, while also maintaining 18 local chapters.
In her new position, Jerez will organize and chair monthly meetings of her local chapter, which is based in Oakland but draws members from throughout the East Bay. The meetings feature speakers who address issues relevant to the workers’ comp field. Attendees receive continuing education credit for these educational presentations.
The chapter also supports the aims of the statewide organization in any way it can, and hosts an annual holiday party for its members.
Jerez was born in El Salvador and immigrated with her family to the United States as a young child. One of multiple native Spanish speakers on the Boxer & Gerson staff, she operated her own firm upon graduation from Golden Gate University School of Law. She joined Boxer & Gerson in 2011.
Bilingual Workers’ Compensation Specialist Maria Sager had a busy week representing Boxer & Gerson, LLP during recent Labor Rights Week festivities sponsored by the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco.
The national observance, coordinated by the United States Department of Labor, included local events mixing education and celebration at the Mexican, Guatemalan and El Salvadoran consulates and other venues in San Francisco, San Jose and Napa.
Sager made six different presentations on workers’ compensation to Spanish-speaking audiences from August 27-30. She also staffed an informational phone bank sponsored by Spanish language television station Univision in San Jose, participated in a radio interview program promoting the week on San Francisco station KIQI, attended inaugural festivities at the Mexican Consulate, and participated in a planning meeting involving some 40 people in the weeks prior to the event.
It was the seventh consecutive year Sager had pitched in during Labor Rights Week to help inform Latin American immigrants of their workers’ compensation and other rights under established labor law. The theme of this year’s event was: “Know Your Rights at Work: The Well Informed Worker.” Those include the rights of workers to:
• A safe and healthy workplace free of obvious hazards
• Fair wages—including overtime pay and the federal minimum wage
• The right to speak to an employer about unsafe conditions or unfair wages
• The right to contact OSHA, the Wage and Hour Division, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if their rights have been violated.
Sager makes similar presentations on workers’ compensation at the Mexican Consulate on a monthly basis throughout the year. Following up on the Labor Rights Week events, the Consulate invited her and her husband to a Mexican Independence Day fete on September 15, where some 300 guests celebrated the annual holiday, which is September 16. Known as “El Grito,” the holiday notes the 1810 revolt and subsequent independence of Mexico from Spain.
A Labor Rights Week planning meeting in San Francisco, weeks before the event
As many as seven Teamsters Union trucks organized by Joint Councils #7
are scheduled to roll toward Houston tomorrow, September 8, loaded with a wide variety of relief supplies desperately needed by victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Among the supplies will be those purchased at a local unionized Costco on behalf of Boxer & Gerson, LLP by Jamie Gerson, wife of the firm’s co-founder Michael Gerson. She went to gather goods soon after receiving a plea sent out by Teamsters officials, then delivered them to a collection point staffed by Teamsters Local 853.
The Oakland-based Local 853 represents more than 11,000 Teamsters members in northern California.
The Teamsters convoy will be escorted by the California Highway Patrol, which offered its assistance in ensuring safe passage to the storm-ravaged area that is only in the very beginning stages of its recovery efforts. The Teamsters Union has been collecting supplies from all available sources in its member network, which includes 100,000 working persons spread across 22 local unions in Joint Council #7 and more than 146,000 members in Joint Council #42.
Among the more acutely needed items are new clothing (including socks and underwear, diapers (for both babies and adults), baby formula, bottled water, protein bars and drinks, work gloves and boots, pet food, disinfectant wipes, shovels, rakes, tarps, batteries and much more.
Items must be delivered to union drop-off sites by the end of today, Thursday, in order to assure departure by Friday. Call Steve Bender for northern California drop-off locations at 707-628-8465, or email@example.com
Jamie Gerson, dropping off some of the supplies donated by Boxer & Gerson to the Teamsters Local 853’s Rodney Smith.
Boxer & Gerson Associate Attorney Justin Litvack shared the dais with a workers’ compensation judge last weekend at the California State Bar Sections Convention, helping to unpack a state law that has left many workers uncompensated for secondary effects of a work-related injury.
The program, entitled “Truth & Compensable Consequences: An Update on Labor Code 4660.1,” addressed a law passed by the California Legislature in 2013 that made it more difficult for workers to be compensated for sexual dysfunction, sleep disorders or psychological injuries that arose secondarily to another main injury suffered on the job.
An example might be a severe back injury that leads to a person’s clinical depression or inability to engage in sexual relations. Since the 2013 law went into effect, workers seeking compensation for these secondary injuries have faced far more significant roadblocks to an award than was previously the case.
Litvack joined San Diego Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Judge Linda Atcherley on the two-person panel as they addressed the nuances of the law. The “update” in the program’s title referred to the fact that more than four years after the law went into effect, it now has significant case law history that has revealed various avenues by which attorneys can still win judgements for secondary injuries.
“The law provides for exceptions,” Litvack says. “It’s a matter of being up to speed on what those are, and determining whether they might apply to your client’s case.”
Litvack has long been active in State Bar activities, joining in 2005 and assuming a role on its Workers’ Compensation Executive Committee last December. The committee meets approximately six times per year and engages in a wide range of educational and outreach activities. It includes among its members Litvack’s Boxer & Gerson colleague Maria Sager.
The Member Action Team (MAT), a special contingent from the University of California’s largest employee union, Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), invited Boxer & Gerson Partner Maria Sager to address a group conference for the third consecutive year last month in Los Angeles. Sager, a certified workers’ compensation specialist, discussed various aspects of her specialty and its application to work injuries across the 10-campus UC system represented by Local 3299. The local is the largest employee union in the university’s workforce, representing some 24,000 workers.
Sager took the occasion to present a workers’ compensation overview, benefits discussion, and a review of the complexities of injury evaluation by physicians in the workers’ comp system, among other matters. Her audience included MAT members from UC San Francisco, Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine, and the UC Center in Sacramento.
The MAt conducts an annual conference alternating between northern and southern California locations. Next year’s conference is in Oakland.
Nationally, the AFSCME represents 1.6 million workers, making it one of the largest unions in the United States.
Maria Sager, second row, right, with group of MAT members at annual conference