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
Boxer & Gerson LLP’s longtime involvement with nonprofit legal aid, support and advocacy organization Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland has this summer included hosting a student intern for the seventh consecutive year.
David Ruvalcaba is a 2016 Lighthouse Community Charter School graduate who returned home for the prized internship after completing his freshman year at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He has spent this summer under the wing of Boxer & Gerson Partner Maria Sager, who has included him in a wide range of activities typical of her workers’ compensation practice.
Ruvalcaba’s main academic interests are in physics and law, and he has been considering whether those might be combined in the legal profession. He is currently undecided on his academic major.
The summer internship program is part of Centro Legal’s Youth Law Academy, a multi-year program that supports young people of color in pursuing academic excellence and career opportunities in the legal field. The photo above shows the 2016 Academy members, under the direction of Raymundo Jacquez (back row, right). Sager works closely with Jacquez in planning Boxer & Gerson’s annual participation in the program.
Sager and 2015 summer intern Nori Dubon
In addition to her hosting of a Centro Legal de las Raza intern every summer, Sager also chairs the organization’s Board of Directors. She has been a member of the board for seven years. In that capacity, she has helped deepen ties between Centro Legal and Boxer & Gerson, which next month will include the firm’s sponsorship of Centro Legal’s 48th Anniversary Gala. The event will take place at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland on September 14. See centrolegal.org/gala for more information.
More than 40 Boxer & Gerson employees trekked across or under the Bay Bridge on Friday, July 28, headed for the Hornblower Yacht on Pier 3. The occasion was a summer holiday and appreciation party, courtesy of the firm’s partners.
The festive afternoon was focused around a two-hour cruise of San Francisco Bay that included a ship-board lunch and dazzling closeup views of all the major landmarks to which tourists flock from all over the world, all year long.
Interestingly, many attendees who are lifelong Bay Area residents allowed that this was the first time they had ever indulged in a bay cruise. An informal survey revealed that they were unanimously glad for the opportunity.
On the close-to-home sightseeing menu were the bay’s three major bridges, Alcatraz and Angel islands, and the renowned and ever-changing San Francisco skyline, all of which figured prominently in the day’s festivities. So did the fabled bay weather, which ranged from bright sunshine fit for short sleeves along the Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge to the swirling fog and winds as the boat made its way under the Golden Gate and the partygoers started reaching for their jackets.
Amidst much conviviality and picture-taking as noted in the accompanying photos, Managing Partner John Harrigan took a moment to praise fellow Partner Maria Sager’s efforts to organize the day’s festivities. He also noted, “We have a great team in place here, and all the partners feel it’s important to acknowledge our employees and extend our appreciation for everything they do to help build our firm and better serve our clients. Taking a bay cruise on a sunny Friday in the summertime seemed an appropriate way to express our thanks.”
(All photos except for main group shot above courtesy of Boxer & Gerson’s own Ruthie Riley Evans)
Bite of Dessert
Wearing Her Shroud
A Moment’s Reflection
Returning to Port
Five Boxer & Gerson, LLP workers’ compensation attorneys took turns on the dais as panel members at the 2017 Summer Convention of the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) last month. The semi-annual continuing education event was held over four days at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco, playing host to nearly 600 attorneys from around the state. Formal panel discussions and exhibits were complemented by a host of informal gatherings across the bay from Boxer & Gerson’s downtown Oakland offices.
Arjuna Farnsworth led off the firm’s convention involvement on Thursday, June 22 by being one of four expert panelists on a presentation titled, “Benson Revisited.” Diane Benson was the plaintiff in a much-chronicled workers’ compensation case in 2007 that was later appealed and continues to reverberate today. Farnsworth has long studied the case for its implications in the field.
Later that day, Boxer & Gerson Partner and Workers’ Compensation Specialist Maria Sager served as moderator for a panel on ““Immigrants’ Rights in Workers’ Compensation.” Sager has a longtime interest in the topic, on which she speaks regularly both to the legal community and in public presentations. She frequently touches on the subject in a monthly radio interview show on the Spanish language station KIQI in San Francisco.
The conference’s second day saw two Boxer & Gerson associate attorneys serve on morning panels. Warren Pulley, a former California State Bar Workers’ Compensation “Defense Attorney of the Year,” lent his nearly three decades of experience to a panel entitled, “Evidence: Procedure and Substance.” It examined a range of issues on deposition and trial procedures, rules of evidence, and pre-trial preparations.
Associate Attorney Jenny Jerez then served on a panel addressing “Applicant Depositions,” which ranged from how-to’s regarding deposition preparation to complex modern developments with respect to privacy rights, immigration, social media exposure and 5th amendment concerns. Jerez currently serves as vice president of CAAA’s East Bay Chapter, one of 18 local chapters that meets monthly for continuing education and advocacy purposes.
Longtime Partner Bert Arnold, who served as president of the Statewide CAAA in 2015 and East Bay chapter president in the previous decade, concluded Boxer & Gerson’s participation in formal presentations by moderating a Saturday morning panel on “Protecting Your Client’s Rights in Settlement Documents.” It addressed a number of fine points such as unpaid medical expenses, a case settlement’s effect on Medicare/Medi-Cal and Social Security, and limitations on future medical costs.
The CAAA was founded in 1966 with the purpose of helping California workers injured on the job to heal and return to work. Besides offering continuing education opportunities for its members, it engages in ongoing legal, policy and educational advocacy activities.
“Our firm’s active participation in CAAA through conferences and in service as officers to the local and statewide organization is not unusual,” commented Boxer & Gerson Managing Partner John Harrigan. “We believe wholeheartedly in CAAA’s great benefit to injured California workers and the attorneys who represent them. The fact that so many of our attorneys are actively involved and invited to participate in these conferences speaks well of their professional reputations. We’re just very pleased to continue helping attorneys statewide in their collective pursuit of strong advocacy for injured workers.”
Left to right: Arjuna Farnsworth, Maria Sager, Warren Pulley, Jenny Jerez, Bert Arnold
Boxer & Gerson, LLP Partners Dennis Popalardo and Gary Roth paid a weekend visit to the Teamsters International Union’s Local 315 in Martinez on Saturday, July 15 to make a presentation to some 50 shop stewards and alternates.
Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist Popalardo and Roth, who practices personal injury law, emphasized the basic do’s and don’ts for workers in both the immediate and longer-term aftermath of suffering a workplace injury. Roth gave special attention to injuries caused by a third party.
Shop stewards are typically charged with learning as much as possible about issues affecting union members in the workplace. Boxer & Gerson attorneys make a regular practice of being available for presentations to stewards across a broad range of industries in the Bay Area.
Local 315 has a venerable history, having been chartered in 1936. It maintains collective bargaining agreements with more than 100 Bay Area companies.
The industries represented within its unit range from package handling and delivery to solid waste and recycling collection, grocery distribution and warehousing, transit, bakeries, construction and building materials, and much else. It represents some 4,500 workers, primarily in Contra Costa, Napa, and Solano counties.