Latest News

WARNING – OMBUDS OFFICE NOW ASSISTING PROVIDERS IN BRINGING SI COMPLAINTS!

Monday, November 26, 2018

The BWC SI Department Interim Director, David Sievert, made a surprising announcement on 8-21-18 at a BWC SI Employer Workshop in Cincinnati:

Providers in WC claims will now be directed to the Ombuds Office for assistance in bringing SI Complaints directly against Self Insuring Employers. LL Patterson views this at best as “opening the door” to more SI Complaints, and at worst, injecting Ombuds representatives into the position of advising and assisting providers in adversarial proceedings against SI employers.

The BWC describes the Ombuds Office as  a problem solving service for employers, injured workers, and their respective representatives. The Ombuds Office is “independent of the BWC and the Industrial Commission of Ohio, which answers complaints and general inquiries about Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.”

Please contact our office if you have any questions about or need assistance with SI Complaints.

Patchwork of Marijuana Laws Across the Country Affects Employers Differently

Friday, October 26, 2018

In Ohio, medical marijuana is now legal. Ohio employers are STILL ABLE to enforce drug free workplace policies for medical marijuana use.

Ohio has NOT (yet?)  legalized small amounts of recreational marijuana. The rest of the country is a patchwork, but the trend toward legalization is clearly growing.

For example, 22 states, including Ohio, have legalized medical marijuana. These include Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and Hawaii.

Nine other states have legalized recreational marijuana along with medical marijuana. These are Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts, PLUS Washington D.C.

However, marijuana is still a Schedule I substance under the Federal Controlled Substance Act. Some federal regulations that affect marijuana use are still in effect regardless of the existence of state laws legalizing marijuana use.

For example, the Department of Transportation Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation does NOT authorize medical marijuana, legal under a state law, as a valid medical explanation for a positive drug test result.

Federal contractors are required to maintain drug free workplaces and zero tolerance policies.

Aside from these policies, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency has NOT aggressively prosecuted marijuana use cases in states with legalized marijuana laws.

How do the state marijuana laws affect employers? The answer is – IT DEPENDS!

Some state laws expressly prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of an employee’s use of legal medical marijuana as long as the employee complies with state law.

These states prohibit discrimination against medical marijuana users: Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

In Nevada and New York, there is a duty to accommodate medical marijuana.

Some states allow employers to enforce drug free workplace policies for medical marijuana use:  Ohio, Florida, Montana, Nevada, Vermont, and Washington.

California and Colorado allow employers to enforce drug free workplace policies for recreational marijuana use.

Some state laws FAIL to address the employment relationship at all: Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Oregon.

For employers who have facilities across multiple states, the landscape of marijuana legality is constantly changing and can create big problems!

Not every workers’ compensation claim requires the help of an attorney. But if you need one, choose experience, reputation, and most importantly, someone who understands how you do business.

LL Patterson LLC is founded on the principle of providing clients with exceptional and results oriented service. The singular mission of LLP is to aggressively and exclusively protect Ohio Employers’ rights in workers’ compensation, OSHA, VSSR, and employment related issues. Whether you’re in the medical or healthcare industry, the construction field, education, the corporate world, or small business, the goal remains the same: to reach final closure of your workers’ compensation claim in as little time as possible while minimizing cost.

Lisa L. Patterson understands the complex intricacies of the Ohio workers’ comp system and has sixteen years experience working with this very specific and sensitive form of law. A seasoned Ohio employers’ advocate, she will work to ensure that all parties’ claims are fairly and efficiently executed to protect your interests and assets.