Another Pennsylvania Supreme Court Victory for Injured Workers; Attorney Dan Siegel Authored Friend of the Court Brief

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled yet again that injured workers cannot lose their wage loss benefits based on an unconstitutional Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). In its June 16, 2020 decision in Dana Holding Corp. v. WCAB, the Court ruled that injured workers are entitled to wage losses retroactive to the date of the IRE, provided their case was in litigation when the Court issued its landmark Protz decision declaring the IRE process unconstitutional. Click here to read the decision in Dana Holding.

Attorney Daniel J. Siegel of the Havertown Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, co-authored the Amicus (Friend of the Court) brief for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (PAJ), which sought reinstatement of the injured worker’s benefits. Attorney Siegel was also the author of the PAJ’s Amicus brief in Protz, and is the only attorney who served as counsel in both landmark decisions.

Over the past decade, Attorney Siegel has served as counsel or Amicus counsel in cases preserving or extending the rights of more injured workers and others than any Pennsylvania lawyer. His firm regularly represents injured workers and other injured in accidents and from other causes. If you need an attorney, give us a call at (610) 446-3457 or click here to send an email and learn how we can help you.

Our office can prepare and remotely notarize your Will and other Estate Planning Documents

Our office regularly prepares Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Healthcare Authorizations and other testamentary documents. We charge a flat fee for the preparation of these documents. There are no additional fees if you want to make changes later.

And there’s good news – the logistics of finalizing a Will was tricky because of the mandated social distancing, but that has changed. Now, our office can remotely notarize your Will and other estate documents.

This is a scary time for everyone. This pandemic has forced many of us to think about our own mortality and whether we are prepared. Most of us do not want to think about it, but it is important, and we can help. And you do not need to come to our office.

Remote notarization is a simple process. There will be a modest additional fee for remote notarization because our office incurs additional fees to be able to provide this service.

As a friendly reminder, our office prepares Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Healthcare Authorizations and other estate documents. We charge a flat fee for the preparation of these documents, but no no additional fees if you want to make changes later. Just contact our office and we will help.

Just give us a call at (610) 446-3457 or click here to send an e-mail.

New Pa. Bar Ethics Opinion – Obligations of Lawyers Working Remotely

The Pennsylvania Bar Association Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility today issued Formal Opinion 2020-300 – Ethical Obligations of Attorneys Working Remotely. The Opinion is intended to provide global guidance to attorneys working from home, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also for those who will work remotely even after the situation returns to “normal.” I am a Vice Chair of and the incoming Chair of the PBA Committee and a contributor to the Opinion. Click here to read the Pa. Bar Association Formal Opinion.

The Opinion provides an ethical analysis of the obligations of attorneys and their staff about how to best comply with their obligation to preserve client confidentiality. In the Introduction, the Opinion states:

“At a minimum, when working remotely, attorneys and their staff have an obligation under the Rules of Professional Conduct to take reasonable precautions to assure that:

  • “All communications, including telephone calls, text messages, email, and video conferencing are conducted in a manner that minimizes the risk of inadvertent disclosure of confidential information;
  • Information transmitted through the Internet is done in a manner that ensures the confidentiality of client communications and other sensitive data;
  • Their remote workspaces are designed to prevent the disclosure of confidential information in both paper and electronic form;
  • Proper procedures are used to secure and backup confidential data stored on electronic devices and in the cloud;
  • Any remotely working staff are educated about and have the resources to make their work compliant with the Rules of Professional Conduct; and,
  • Appropriate forms of data security are used.

This Opinion adopts conclusions from the American Bar Association’s Formal Opinion 477R and provides practical – use-it-now – suggestions for how attorneys can adopt best practices.

My law firm, Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, and my consulting firm, Integrated Technology Services, LLC, provide techno-ethical guidance to attorneys about the issues addressed in the Opinion, and I have been writing and lecturing about these topics for more than a decade.

If you are a lawyer or firm administrator and need guidance on the ethical and/or the technological issues confronting attorneys and staff working remotely, contact Dan Siegel, Christa High or Pam Myers; we are the pioneers of techno-ethics and are here to help you.

Competence – A crucial requirement for lawyers during, and after, the pandemic

It is incompetent for a lawyer to believe, let alone say or write that “It is illegal [for a lawyer] to text or email anything of substance.” The statement is also completely wrong, legally and ethically.

Yet one lawyer, an ethics “maven” no loss, who writes a column for a major local legal newspaper, actually wrote those completely inaccurate words as part of his lament that – because of COVID-19 – he can no longer work in the same type of law office common in 1973, when he received his law license, you know, when Richard Nixon was President.

The Rules of Ethics require lawyers to provide “competent” representation, which means that they must possess the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. The same Rules of Ethics also say that, in order to be competent, ALL lawyers must “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”

The Rules do not prohibit lawyers from texting or emailing “anything of substance.” Instead, the Rules say that when communicating with or about a client, a “lawyer must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from coming into the hands of unintended recipients.” This phrase is generally interpreted to mean that, when necessary, lawyers must secure email or other communications with a password, or use encryption or other security measures.

The lawyer who wrote the column proudly quoted Winston Churchill, who said “never let a good crisis go to waste.” That quote should tell lawyers who weren’t prepared to work remotely from home that the time has come to become competent. The author chose not to glean that lesson and instead proved another quote, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Lawyers, don’t worry, you can email and text information “of substance,” you just have to do it in a way that protect confidential and sensitive information. That’s why, the lawyers at the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC and the legal technologists at Integrated Technology Services, LLC provide techno-ethical and cybersecurity guidance to lawyers and their entire staff. Give us a call. We are practicing lawyers and paralegals, who actually know and understand our ethical obligations.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor Of Workers in Age Discrimination Claims

Employment discrimination claims are a challenge because almost all end up in Federal Courts where the law has favored employers. That’s why when an employee wins a claim, it’s important. When an employee wins a claim in the U.S. Supreme Court, it is an even more important victory because that decision will impact every employee who subsequently files a claim.

That’s why the decision on Monday, April 6, 2020 is so important. In Babb v. Wilkie, the Supreme Court ruled that “federal workers 40 and older are entitled to a personnel process ‘untainted by any consideration of age.’” In its 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court found that “it is conceivable that Congress meant for federal workers to have higher protection from possible age discrimination than workers in the private sector or who work for state and local governments,” but “that to get relief such as hiring, reinstatement or monetary damages, a worker still must eventually prove that the adverse employment action would not have been taken except for the worker’s age.” Every Justice joined in the decision, except Justice Thomas, who dissented.

The decision is a victory for every worker because the language of Justice Alito’s Majority Opinion is relevant to anyone who claims that their age was a factor in the decision to fire them. As the syllabus to the Opinion summarizes, “The plain meaning of §633a(a) [of the ] demands that personnel actions be untainted by any consideration of age. To obtain reinstatement, damages, or other relief related to the end result of an employment decision, a showing that a personnel action would have been different if age had not been taken into account is necessary, but if age discrimination played a lesser part in the decision, other remedies may be appropriate.

We fight hard for every employee wronged by an employer, whether injured at work or fired. Give us a call.

%d bloggers like this: