Monthly Archive for May, 2009

Age Discrimination is Alive and Well in the United States

age-discriminationIn 1967, Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to protect U.S. workers age 40 and above from employment discrimination based on age.  However, despite this act, age discrimination is alive and well in the U.S.[1]

According to the AARP, of the 11.1 Million unemployed people as of December 2008, 1.4 Million alone were age 55 and over.[2]  Age discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have recently become one of the fastest-growing discrimination categories in U.S. history since the ADEA act was passed.[3] 

During the past five calendar years, EEOC data reports a 9.3% increase in age discrimination complaints, or over 92,000 complaints nationwide.  Of these, only a fraction of these complaints had merit (15,430) but even with this small number of meritorious complaints damages totaled to $348 Million![4]  Over the past five years ending 5/28/09, nearly 6,000 cases specifically alleging age discrimination have been filed, nationwide, with LegalMatch and are reflective of the general trend. 

And, it’s not just the 40 to 50 year old workers who are making these allegations.  In March 2009, the EEOC settled a lawsuit alleging age discrimination against the Meenan Oil Company in Tullytown, Pennsylvania who terminated a 71 year old sales representative because of his age.[5]  The company settled for $80,000.  This is no different than customers of LegalMatch who inquired about age discrimination and who ranged in age from as young as 40 years old to as old as 85! 

During the past 12-months, the following are the top ten states where LegalMatch customers sought attorneys to represent them with their age discrimination complaints.  Together, all ten states accounted for over half of the age discrimination complaints filed with LegalMatch.

  1. CA
  2. TX
  3. FL
  4. IL
  5. OH
  6. NY
  7. AZ
  8. TN
  9. VA
  10. GA

Given our own data and the records of the EEOC, we expect allegations of employer’s discriminating against older workers to continue to rise as the U.S. population ages.  Apparently, it is only through private legal actions or through claims filed via the EEOC or both that older U.S. workers will gain protection in the workplace.

[1] U.S. EEOC Web Site

[2] Port Lucie Woman Wins $75,000 in Age Discrimination Case 

[3] U.S EEOC Web Site

[4] U.S. EEOC ADEA Claims

[5] Meenan Oil and Litigation

In California, Probation Violators More Likely to Commit Felonies than Misdemeanors

probationAlmost 1200 out of every 100,000 people are on active probation in California. Although lower than the national average, California has more probationers than any other state. Ideally, probation is meant to monitor people convicted of a crime without having them being incarcerated. The alternative to probation would either be reducing sentencing laws or simply locking everyone up, neither of which are likely to happen any time soon.

I was curious about who was being arrested while on probation in California, and what their history was. Every year in California, LegalMatch gets tens of thousands of clients seeking criminal defense attorneys. I decided to look at LegalMatch statistics for the last 12 months for clients who were being charged with misdemeanors and felonies in California. Particularly, I compared the figures for both misdemeanor clients and felony clients according to their probation status:

Probation Status of Felony Suspects in California:

  • No Probation: 70%
  • Yes, currently on Probation: 18%
  • I don’t know: 12%

Probation Status of Misdemeanor Suspects in California:

  • No Probation: 77%
  • Yes, currently on Probation: 14%
  • I don’t know: 9% 

More suspects were being re-arrested for felony charges than misdemeanors. Conversely, more misdemeanor suspects were not already on probation, and more were aware of their probation status.

These statistics mirror national statistics showing that of those arrested while on probation, more were being arrested for felonies than misdemeanors. Is this a sign that the system isn’t working? Not necessarily, but considering that in California there are double the arrests for misdemeanors than felonies, one has to wonder why more of those who are being arrested again are being arrested for serious crimes. As California’s prison over crowding crisis continues to shake out, how California decides to continue its probation process will have an important effect on the future of the system.

LegalMatch Data Confirms 2008 Federal Estimates for Unauthorized Immigrants

immigrant-removalFollowing up on my previous article on immigrant removal, I wanted to know where some of our LegalMatch clients were coming from. I looked at the data for 2008 in order to compare it to current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics on estimated unauthorized immigrant populations in the United States. 

According to data, the following states are the top ten locations for immigrants seeking removal attorneys:

  1. CA: 16%
  2. TX: 12%
  3. FL: 7%
  4. NY: 6%
  5. AZ: 5%
  6. GA: 4%
  7. WA: 3%
  8. NJ: 3%
  9. NC: 3%
  10. CO: 3%

These numbers almost exactly match DHS data on the estimated US population of unauthorized immigrants. The first five states on both lists are the same. The percentages are also almost exactly the same, with a few exceptions.

Assuming a correlation between the number of people facing removal and the number of immigrants present in the state (i.e. higher removal numbers means a likelihood of higher numbers of people in general) this LegalMatch data is evidence that federal estimates are accurate.

Now that we can assume the veracity of these figures, some may wonder why some states, such as New Jersey or Georgia, have a significantly higher proportion of unauthorized immigrants (and thus, immigrants facing removal) then other states situated right next to them. Common sense already dictates that states like California or Florida would have high ratios due to simple geography. But why Colorado and not Utah? Why New Jersey and not Pennsylvania?

Further analysis of these states would be necessary, but my hunch says it’s a mixture of jobs, economic strength, the presence of large urban populations, and how many immigrants are already in the state. Colorado, for instance, may have fewer farms than Nebraska and Kansas, but it has a larger immigrant population as well as more dense urban cities. Georgia, although conservative, also has a dense urban core surrounding Atlanta. New Jersey neighbors the extremely diverse New York City. A variety of reasons may drive immigrant migration, and further examination of LegalMatch data may shed some light on these patterns.

Most Removed Immigrants Not Criminals, Data Shows

us-deportationThe numbers of illegal aliens facing removal from the United States has been on the rise since 2001. In the past 8 years there has been a 40% increase in the number of aliens removed (deported) from the United States. 

I was curious of the most common causes for removal. According to intake reports compiled from thousands of client entries in the past 12 months, these are the most common reasons cited for removal from the U.S.:

  • Convicted of a crime: 42%
  • In the United States illegally: 40%
  • Visa has expired: 16%
  • Not paid taxes: 1%

A lot of squabbling goes on in the media and the blogosphere about whether an “illegal immigrant” is actually a criminal. The point of these “debates” is usually to score quick political talking points.

Contrary to popular belief however, mere unauthorized presence in the United States is not always a crime. The above poll matches Homeland Security data showing that in fact, the majority of aliens removed from the United States were not criminals. According to Department of Homeland Security statistics for 2007, only 31% of immigrants removed were actually convicted of a crime.

Although removal can subject one to criminal sanctions, the majority of removal cases are limited to civil penalties or based on breaches of administrative laws. When an immigrant is removed without criminal consequences it is incorrect to really refer to this person as a “criminal.” The “illegal aliens are criminals” talking point is nonetheless often used to somehow justify the mass jailing and deportation of illegal aliens, but it rings hollow when statistics show that the rule being broken by most of these people is mere unauthorized presence. According to the above statistics, it would be incorrect to assume that more than 42% of those immigrants facing removal are in fact criminals.

Top Injuries from Defective Auto Products

What is an “auto product” you might be wondering? Your steering wheel, your car-seat, and your airbag are all examples of products that come together to make up your automobile. As with any other product, these things can malfunction. In the context of a moving automobile, when these things fail it can sometimes lead to serious consequences. This being America, what do people want to do when they are hurt? Sue!

In the past 12 months has been the destination for quite a few people looking for attorneys in their defective auto product claims. I decided to look at what injuries these products were causing, and here is what the data was telling me:

  • Anxiety: 19%defective-auto-part
  • Difficulty sleeping: 14%
  • Headaches: 12%
  • Nausea: 4%
  • Difficulty breathing: 4%
  • Cuts and bruises: 3%
  • Impaired vision: 2%
  • Broken bones: 1%

A little while ago, we had an article debunking the myth that car accident lawsuits were a golden ticket to retirement. In reality, insurers fight these actions tooth and nail. Common injuries that do not exhibit obvious physical marks-such as neck and back pain-make a case more difficult to win.

This sage wisdom is relevant here because most of the injuries listed above aren’t visible. Maybe these folks have a perfectly valid warranty claim, but as far as product liability goes they may have an uphill battle. 

In fact only 6% of the above are the type of injuries that a doctor (and a jury) can see. The rest are based on doctor’s opinions and trusting someone’s word. Of course we all want to take someone’s word for it, but the insurance company that is being told to pay $100,000 because someone can’t sleep at night isn’t going to go down quietly. These plaintiffs should be ready for a fight.