Former Buffalo Jills get big win for workers’ rights

May 25th, 2017

 

The former Buffalo Jills have something to cheer about this week. A judge ruled in a 2014 lawsuit filed by the Jills against the Buffalo Bills, that the cheerleaders were in fact employees, not independent contractors. This ruling is important because as employees they are legally entitled to workers’ rights and regulations which they wouldn’t be if they were independent contractors. Under workers’ rights laws the Jills will have to be paid at least minimum wage for their work.

Dolce Panepinto partner Sean Cooney is one of the attorneys representing the Jills, and is dedicated to protecting the rights of workers. You can find more information on the lawsuit here and here.


Rights of injured workers threatened

May 10th, 2017

Workers’ compensation and the rights of injured workers has become a hot topic in today’s news.  Recently, an Alabama judge has found portions of their state’s Workers’ Compensation Act to be unconstitutional. The judge ruled that the monetary cap for injured workers violates the due process of the law.

Similarly, here in New York State new workers’ compensation laws have been passed that threaten the rights of injured workers. These laws will not only decrease benefits, but also make it more difficult to qualify for benefits.

Our workers’ compensation team at Dolce Panepinto is always fighting for injured workers’ rights and are here to help.  We will continue to keep you updated as changes continue to the workers’ compensation system.

If you think you have a workers’ compensation claim or would like a free case evaluation do not hesitate to call 716-852-1888.


Workers’ wages at stake with new proposal

April 18th, 2017

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Congressman Steve King, a republican from Iowa, has re-introduced the Davis-Bacon Repeal Act to Congress that could significantly affect workers’ wages.

The Davis-Bacon Act, passed by Congress in 1931, requires private contractors to pay workers the prevailing wage of their trade or occupation on all federally funded projects worth more than 2,000 dollars. Prevailing wages are determined by the Department of Labor and in most cases, the prevailing wage matches the union wage for that job type.

Like the five-day, forty-hour work week, this is an example of labor unions benefitting even non-union workers. Without the Davis-Bacon Act, contractors would be able to pay their non-union employees less than their union counterparts.

Dolce Panepinto knows how harmful this legislation would be to Western New York’s working families, and how important it is for workers to receive fair compensation. We stand ready and willing to fight for workers’ rights to guarantee they continue to get the wages they deserve. If you have any questions about this proposed repeal act and how it could affect you, or if you or a family member has been hurt on the job, please do not hesitate to call us at 716-852-1888.


Dolce Panepinto Recovered more than $17 Million for Injured Clients in 2016

January 6th, 2017

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In 2016, the Dolce Panepinto team fought for and recovered more than $17 Million in settlements and awards for our injured clients. As always, we worked extremely hard to get the best possible outcome for our clients and are proud to have had the opportunity to help them. We would like to congratulate our clients and wish them the best as they continue to move forward beyond their injuries. Here are some of the litigation highlights.

A $2 Million settlement was reached on behalf of a Local 22 Plumber who suffered a serious back injury. Our client was on a ladder installing cast iron pipe overhead when a length of pipe broke loose and struck him.

A $1.2 Million settlement was reached on behalf of a Local 210 Laborer who suffered a serious back injury. While unloading a forklift, a section of drywall fell on our client, striking him in the back and knocking him to the ground.

A $1.2 Million settlement was reached on behalf of a District Council 11 Painter who suffered serious back, neck, shoulder, and knee injuries. Our client was painting a bridge when a large cable fell from above striking him on the head, cracking his hardhat and knocking him onto his knees.

A $1 Million settlement was reached on behalf of a Local 210 Laborer who suffered serious neck, back, and shoulder injuries. While performing demolition work, he slipped on a chunk of wet concrete and was injured.

A $850,000 settlement was reached on behalf of a Local 210 Laborer who suffered a serious knee injury. Our client was part of a team working on the bed of a moving flatbed truck, removing traffic cones from the highway when a stack of cones on the truck tipped over and fell on him.

A $800,000 settlement was reached on behalf of a construction worker who suffered a serious back injury. Our client was carrying a heavy piece of industrial equipment when he slipped on hazardous debris.


Dolce Panepinto Hires Attorney Kristin Allen, Opens Office in Batavia, NY

August 6th, 2016

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Dolce Panepinto is proud to announce the hiring of Attorney Kristin Allen and the grand opening of our new Batavia office. Kristin has been practicing Workers’ Compensation law for the past 16 years and has been handling Workers’ Compensation claims on behalf of injured workers in Batavia for the past 10 years. Her vast knowledge of the Workers’ Compensation system combined with her remarkable work ethic and friendly personality make her an ideal fit for our legal team.

“It had long been a dream of my late partner Frank Dolce to have a Workers’ Compensation department at Dolce Panepinto and we were able to make that dream a reality in 2013 with the hiring of Holly Schoenborn and Colleen Malchow,” explained partner Marc Panepinto. “The addition of Kristin Allen and the Batavia office are an extension of that dream. Kristin is a very intelligent attorney and an extremely hard worker. I know Frank would be proud to have her.”

Kristin joins attorneys Holly Schoenborn and Colleen Malchow in our dedicated Workers’ Compensation department which works hand in hand with the rest of the Dolce Panepinto team. We take the team approach to practicing in the areas of Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, and all injury related matters, which means that all of our client’s cases are evaluated by several attorneys to devise the proper legal strategy for each matter. You and your family may have the ability to file several types of claims relating to the same incident. We handle those claims simultaneously as a team, working hand in hand to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome.

All three of our Workers’ Compensation attorneys are available to speak to the leadership and/or membership of your union or volunteer fire department about Workers’ Compensation basics and the ways in which the law applies to your specific field. If you would like to find out more, or to schedule a presentation, please contact Carlos Torres at our Buffalo office at 716-852-1888.

Our Batavia office is located directly above the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board office at 83 Main St., Suite 220, Batavia, NY 14020. If you or anybody in your family has been injured and are in need of legal assistance, do not hesitate to contact Kristin today at 585-815-9003 for a free case evaluation.


Frank Dolce Officially Honored by New York State Senate

June 15th, 2016

Dolce Panepinto’s founding partner, the late Frank J. Dolce, was honored today in the New York State Senate by partner and New York State Senator Marc Panepinto who spoke on behalf of the resolution in the Senate Chamber.

The full text of Resolution J6205 can be read here.


Dolce Panepinto Founding Partner Frank J. Dolce Passes Away

June 6th, 2016

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It is with heavy hearts that we share with you the passing of Dolce Panepinto founding partner Frank Dolce on Wednesday June 1, 2016. Frank J. Dolce was 62 years old and lived all of them fully, including the last three years, despite his illness.

Frank was and remains an inspiration to us all. He was more than one of the city’s best workers’ advocates, he was engaging, warm, charming, intelligent, and a joy to be around. Frank was best  known for his ability to make every person he interacted with feel that they were the most important person in the world. Whether you were a construction worker, doctor, defense attorney, or legal assistant, the passion Frank showed in every conversation was genuine. It was that passion that Frank transferred into every person and group he touched in his life.

Frank was passionate about the fight for workers’ rights. He saw it as his duty to stand up for those who do not have the means to stand up or themselves. He was a founding member the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH) in 1979 and remained active in the group throughout the rest of his life.

Frank was very proud of WNYCOSH’s many accomplishments over the years including working to ensure the passage of New York State’s Right to Know Law in 1980, which affords workers the right to request information from their employers about hazards and health effects of workplace chemicals; founding the WNY Worker Center, an occupational and environmental safety and health training center that WNYCOSH has operated since 1980; and the recently established Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) of Western New York, where Frank was also a member of the center’s Advisory Board.

Frank was passionate about practicing law. It was an extension of his fight for workers’ rights. Frank found true joy in the daily fight on behalf of injured people and their loved ones. During thirty-six years of law practice, his expert knowledge of the law, charming personality, and his inexhaustible energy resulted in numerous multi-million dollar recoveries for injured workers.

Frank was passionate about those he worked with. He was warm and authentic, never changing his approach to people regardless of who they were or how long he knew them. He loved his firm and the people who helped his vision become a reality.

He had a special passion for his family. Sue, his “bride” of thirty years, and three sons were his true pride and joy. Every moment of his free time was spent with them. He loved his wife deeply and freely credited her with nearly every positive aspect of himself. His adoration for her colored every one of their interactions. He loved life alongside his sons. He especially loved taking them to concerts, sporting events, and traveling with them. Frank and Sue had an open house to match Frank’s open soul which was always ready to embrace life, family, and friends known and new.

Frank’s love for life, his family, his friends, and his partners and colleagues will be missed by us all.

While our firm will never be the same without Frank, his vision and our firm name Dolce Panepinto will continue on, proudly advocating for Frank’s passions.


How The New Overtime Law Will Affect You

May 20th, 2016

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The White House recently announced a major change to the current overtime system that will put more money into the hands of middle-class workers. As of December 1, 2016, anybody making less than $913 per week ($47,476 per year) will automatically be eligible for overtime pay at a rate of time and a half when they work more than 40 hours in a week regardless of if they are a salary employee or classified as a manager.

The current threshold is set much lower at a rate of $455 per week ($23,660 per year). Many workers who now earn a salary of more than $455 per week are given some managerial duties or a managerial classification and are therefore ineligible for overtime under the current system. The Department of Labor estimates that this change will have a positive effect for more than 4 million middle-class workers.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a salaried employee making less than $913 per week you will be automatically eligible for overtime. Your employer may choose to:

  1. Pay you overtime.
  2. Limit your ability to work more than 40 hours. This would allow you to make the same amount of money while increasing your free time.
  3. Give you a raise. If you make just under the threshold amount, your employer may give you a raise that puts your base salary just over the threshold so that they do not have to pay you overtime.

What should you do?

No matter what approach your employer takes, you should keep your own record of your hours and check that against your pay stub to make sure they are compensating you for the correct amount of time at the correct rate. It is also a good idea to keep your own record of the vacation/sick days that you use and check that regularly against your employer’s records. This will help protect you against possible wage theft.

What is wage theft?

Wage theft is when an employer does not pay an employee everything they are owed for the time worked. The most common forms of wage theft are:

  1. non-payment of overtime
  2. not paying for all the hours worked
  3. not giving workers their last paycheck after a worker leaves a job
  4. not paying minimum wage

According to the Economic Policy Institute, wage theft costs American workers as much as $50 Billion per year.

What other rights should you be aware of?

You have the right to not be discriminated against in employment matters due to your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. Some workers in New York State also receive special legal protections due to the nature of their work. These include:

Volunteer Firefighters and EMTs receive special protections under the New York State Workers’ Compensation laws.

Generally speaking, any injury sustained while performing your duties as a volunteer firefighter or EMT will be covered. Check out one of our previous blog posts on the subject for more information.

Construction workers in New York State are guaranteed a safe place to work

There are several state and federal laws that protect construction workers. One of these laws is New York Labor Law 200, which requires property owners and contractors to fix hazardous conditions and ensure safe work practices. This includes maintaining and storing all equipment to provide adequate protection for workers. The law protects both employees and people who frequently visit job sites.

New York Labor Law 240, also known as the Scaffold Law, is a pillar of workplace safety in the state of New York and covers workers who work at dangerous heights or are at risk of injury from falling objects. The Scaffold Law requires property owners, contractors, and employers to provide proper ladders, scaffolds, harnesses, and other equipment, holding them liable for injuries which result from improper or malfunctioning equipment.

New York Labor Law 241 sets safety regulations for many hazards faced by construction, demolition, and excavation workers.  These include slipping and tripping hazards, injury from falling objects or hazardous openings, material storage and handling, demolition and disposal of debris, and more. Property owners and contractors are responsible for any violation, whether committed by their employees, a sub-contractor’s employees, or any other contractor.

If you believe that you have been a victim of wage theft or if you or a family member has been injured at work, please contact us today at 716-852-1888 for a free case evaluation.

 


Dolce Panepinto Newsletter, Vol. 4

January 20th, 2016

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Docle Panepinto is proud to release the latest edition of our newsletter: Dolce Panepinto Newsletter, Vol. 4

Inside you will find news and information about our big move this past Fall, Frank Dolce’s Leadership award from WNYCOSH, our new attorneys, and a number of other topics.

Please take a few moments to browse our newsletter and, as always, if you or anybody in your family is injured or in need of an attorney, contact us for a free case evaluation.


Union Ironworker Joins Dolce Panepinto Team as Attorney

October 28th, 2015

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Local Union Ironworker Edward T. Mazzu Jr. has passed the NYS Bar Exam and joined Dolce Panepinto as our newest attorney pending his admission into the New York State Bar Association. Mazzu, a member of Ironworkers Local 6 since 2000, has years of experience on job sites welding, working with structural steel and rebar, and performing his favorite job as a connector. After suffering a serious injury on a job site, Mazzu went back to school in 2010 and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Buffalo State College in 2012, before going on to State University of New York at Buffalo Law School where he graduated this past May.

“We are extremely proud of Eddie,” explained Partner and Local 210 Laborer Marc Panepinto. “He is the epitome of hard work. He joins my brother Donald and myself as construction workers turned attorneys, giving us the best team of lawyers in Western New York when it comes to understanding what really takes place on a job site and what it takes to protect the rights of injured workers. I am very excited for his future”

Mazzu, whose wife Stacey recently gave birth to twin boys Edward James and John Alexander, understands the needs of working families and is motivated to help families like his own. “I am very much looking forward to fighting for workers like myself. I think there is a tendency to see us as disposable or replaceable when we are anything but. I am proud to be a part of a law firm that holds the same values as myself and I can’t wait to get to work.”

If you or a family member has been injured and would like to speak with Eddie or any of our attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at 716-852-1888 for a free case evaluation.