Gwilliam Ivary Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer

Legal Issues Blog

Another fire in Oakland shines light on property issues


There's a saying that says if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. Unfortunately, this was not the sentiment applied to one apartment building in Oakland, California which served as "transitional" housing for 100 people in the city. A recent fire broke out early in the morning, destroying the belongings of the occupants, and killing at least 3 people. Other residents managed to escape through fire escapes, and firefighters helped at least another 15 people get out.

Ignored Regulations Lead to Lost Lives and Injuries

The tragedy was plenty big, but it could have been worse. Many of the standard protections against fire and general safety were not in place in the building. Individual apartments did not have smoke detectors, and the building was not equipped with fire extinguishers, sprinklers, or alarms. It was also reported that before the fire there were several complaints of severe pest infestations in the building.

Sexual harassment in the tech sector


The Silicon Valley tech sector has historically been the domain of men. As more women opt for technical careers, the risk for sexual harassment and related workplace problems has increased. This has been downplayed quite often, but many startup workers say the scale of harassment there is "breathtaking." Women, people of color, and even proper human resource practices are being rejected at some startups, and when anyone but a white male is hired there are often issues with harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

What you should know about California's new distracted driving law


If you've been in an accident where you were hurt because of someone else's mistake or negligence, one of the first things you want to understand is why. In many cases the reason has something to do with someone being distracted while they were driving. One of the most common distractions these days is talking a cell phone. Legislators in the state of California recognize how dangerous is can be to use a phone while driving and passed Assembly Bill 1785 in 2016. Under that bill, which went into effect January 1, 2017, using hand held cell phones without a "hands-free" component is against the law.

What does the legalization of marijuana mean to California workers?


With recreational marijuana legal in California now, workers throughout the state may be wondering how that affects their employment. Since many employers are keeping their current "no drug" policies. That means that, even though marijuana isn't illegal on a state level, you can still be fired for using it if you have a drug test on your job and it shows up. Most companies also say that they have no plans to change that ruling, because they want to keep their workplaces alcohol and drug free.

The danger of laundry pods to children


When you have young children, the chore of laundry is seemingly never ending. Because of this, many parents have been thrilled at the advent of laundry detergent pods. The Wall Street Journal reported that between the years of 2012-2015, the sale of laundry pods increased by 150 percent. The problem is what is easy and convenient for parents, can also be convenient and dangerous for kids. There are several reasons why pods present a bigger danger than detergent stored in traditional bottles:

  • They look like candy - The bright colors and swirls on detergent pods provide a strong temptation for small children to play with and put in their mouths
  • They're the right size for little hands- The size, shape and texture of pods are fun to hold, and fit just right into a preschooler's hand.
  • They're designed for convenience- It is more obvious to store a large box or bottle of laundry soap up on a high shelf than it is in the case of pods. The small size may encourage parents to get creative, and they might keep them in areas that are easier to reach or even in a laundry hamper with the clothes.

    Could Technology Reduce Suspect Deaths Caused by Police?

    Throughout the nation many communities rely upon police officers to maintain law and order. As readers are likely well aware, recently there have been numerous cases in which police officers have taken the lives of citizens, under questionable circumstances. Because in some of these situations the fatal action, or the immediate aftermath, has been captured on video, the deaths are being highly scrutinized by much of the public.

    Racial Disparity in Policing

    There is no question that our nation is currently facing intense issues around race relations. While many people have long been aware of this, the recent deaths of several African Americans at the hands of police officers, has shed light on the issue for others. But just how big of a problem are race relations with law enforcement in Oakland? Information provided by researchers from Stanford, as they assisted the city with the court ordered collection of race information pertaining to police stops, can help to put the matter in perspective.

    When is a car crash really an accident?

    Collisions occur every day in the state of California. When they do, it is not uncommon for the instance to be referred to as an accident. If safety advocates have their way, that will change and they will instead be called car crashes. Multiple state and local leaders, federal officials and grass roots groups that advocate safety throughout the nation, are waging a campaign to change the words that are used to describe the incident. According to these individuals and groups, the phrase trivializes human error as a cause of the incident. They propose instead using a neutral term- "crash."

    Retaliation in the Workplace: Employment Law

    It is not uncommon for employers to retaliate against their employees for reporting illegal/unethical practices taking place within their own company. Retaliation under these circumstances usually involves termination, however it can also consist of harassment, demotion, cut in salary, or any other adverse employment action. One such example of employee retaliation has just surfaced out of a national scandal.

    In recent news, Wells Fargo has fired 5300 employees for opening approximately 1.5 million bank accounts and 565433 credit card accounts without the authorization or knowledge of its customers. These unethical and illegal activities began in 2011 and did not come to the attention of many customers till years later. The purpose of opening additional bank accounts and credit card accounts for customers without their knowledge was to obtain additional fees - i.e., insufficient fund fees, overdraft fees, annual fees, and interest charges. 

    Keeping Bicyclists Safe In The East Bay

    Throughout the Bay Area bicycles are a popular mode of transportation. While good for the environment and physical fitness of the rider, they can also be dangerous. This is particularly true when cyclists cross paths with cars or trucks.

    While any intersection has the potential to be the site of a collision between a vehicle and a bicyclist, statistically, some locations in the Bay Area are worse than others. Just as there are many potential causes of car accidents, so too are there multiple steps that can be taken to try to reduce the number of such incidents that occur. Modifications to the layout of streets in the Bay Area are one such approach.

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