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public entity Archives

Obligation to taxpayers overrules state employees worker’s comp

There have been a 117 workers’ compensation claims involving cancer that have been filed by Texas firefighters over the last six years. According to the Texas Department of Insurance and media outlets, more than 90 percent of those claims have been denied. This is in spite of the fact that a 2005 state law requires governments to presume that cancer is caused by exposure to toxic carcinogens while working.

City council members must be careful when texting, emailing

City council members and other public officials know that there can be a fine line between public and private. It is necessary for public figures to balance their private communications with the need for public transparency. Sometimes, a seemingly innocuous activity like exchanging private emails or text messages can land you in hot water.

City sued over massive sewage leak

No entity, public or private, enjoys being sued. Litigation can be long, tedious and expensive. Even if the city is not fully at fault, it sometimes has no choice but to go to court or settle. This is what happened to our northern neighbors in Portland, Ore., who were sued after a historic building was flooded with human sewage.

How expensive are lawsuits for cities?

Cities face a bevy of thorny legal issues: Premise liability, insurance, personal injury claims and employment disputes, to name just a few. Sometimes, it seems that no matter how carefully a public entity and its attorneys navigate these issues, a disgruntled party is bound to bring a lawsuit. Lawsuits are nightmare for cities. However, in our ever-litigious society, they seem more common than ever.

Orange County faces lawsuit over homeless encampment

A long-simmering dispute between Orange County public officials and advocates for the homeless is about to come to a head in court. On Tuesday, both sides will appear at a federal hearing for a lawsuit regarding the fate of a makeshift encampment of homeless Californians.

Allegations of sexual harassment double at community colleges

The onslaught of sexual harassment allegations that have rocked the country shows no sign of slowing down. It seems that new allegations of misconduct against individuals, employers and public entities surface every day. California is no exception; there have been several allegations of sexual misconduct in our state Congress and the entertainment industry. The latest entities to field reports of sexual harassment are Los Angeles community colleges.

Cell phones bring new legal challenges to school districts

School is very different now than it was for previous generations. One of the biggest changes in today's schools has been the integration of new technology. Teachers, school administrators and parents have had to adapt to the presence of technology in the classroom--for better or worse. Technology can be a helpful tool in the classroom, but its use can have unexpected complications.

Pay gap particularly big in the public sector?

Among the things it is critical for public entities to be careful in is their pay practices towards employees. One thing such organizations should make sure to avoid in such practices is conduct that could be viewed as discriminatory. Difficult legal situations can arise for public entities when they are accused of having engaged in pay discrimination against a worker based on gender or some other protected status.

Sexual harassment and public-sector workplaces

Sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct can cause massive damage in a public-sector workplace. It can expose a public entity’s employees to great harm and could lead to the entity facing legal action that could have lasting repercussions for it financially and reputation-wise. 

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