Archives for July 2015

How Does the SCOTUS Ruling Impact Immigration Law?

Tattoo_withchildThe SCOTUS ruling marked a historic achievement for equality and same-sex marriage unions. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples should have the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. This decision applies to all Americans, which means that legal immigrants are also entitled to enjoy the benefits of the ruling.

Under the ruling, same-sex couples’ visa applications should now be handled like comparable heterosexual applicant proceedings. With this new ruling, American citizens can now sponsor their international same-gender partners. The Citizenship and Immigration Services Department can now legally recognize all couples, no matter their sexual orientation. The only limitation is in cases where the individuals involved are unregistered. CIS states that the restriction is eliminated when individuals involved get married and adjust their status. The only recognized marriage is to a legal citizen.

Under US 2013 rules, a citizen can sponsor their same gender foreign spouse with an immigration visa. Green cards are awarded to individuals legally married to American citizens. Visa applications are now blind to sexual orientation, and the SCOTUS ruling opened an opportunity for same-sex couples to apply for citizenship. Spouses will also benefit from green card lotteries and their partners can gain permanent residence status.

The SCOTUS ruling has resulted in several updates in the immigration law that will directly affect homosexual couples who have previously been prevented from applying for visas or green cards. For legal advice on how the SCOTUS ruling might impact your visa or green card application, contact us at Brownstein & Nguyen today.

Img via Wikipedia Commons

Construction Site Dangers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administers and enforces health and safety regulations in the workplace for most industries. Many of these regulations pertain to standards as they apply to construction, record-keeping, agriculture, and general industry.

Construction is a Dangerous Tradeconstruction work accidents

With construction once again booming in metro Atlanta, it is important for those involved in the construction industry to be aware of certain facts and figures regarding workplace accidents. There are four categories of fatalities that OSHA refers to as the “Fatal Four.” These include falls, being struck by objects, electrocutions, and “caught in between” accidents. The following statistics are a stark reminder of just how dangerous working in construction can be:

  • In 2013 828 or 20.2% of work related fatalities were in construction
  • The “Fatal Four” were responsible for 57.7% of construction related deaths
  • 478 lives would be saved with the elimination of “Fatal Four” hazards

Most Violated OSHA Standards

OSHA has identified 10 workplace safety standards that are most frequently violated. Among the top 3 are fall protection in construction, hazard communication in general industry, and the proper use of scaffolding in construction.

Duty to Have Fall Protection

Safety on the job site should always be priority one. When working on roofing, framing or other building structures, construction workers are commonly 2-4 stories up and sometimes much higher. A fall from this height would most certainly cause severe injury, if not a fatality. Fall protection as required by OSHA often includes the use of a harness and rope. Guardrail systems, safety net systems, and personal fall arrest systems are often used, as well.

Chemical Hazard Communication

The U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, stated: ““Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today. Revising OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive.” These standards have been updated, and there is now a global system in place to label and classify chemicals for more streamlined hazard communication. Images are used to help convey the various hazards associated with hazardous chemicals.

General Requirements for Scaffolding

Scaffolding use in construction has specific guidelines that must be followed. These include the capability of supporting at least 4 times the maximum weight of the intended load, use of counterweights on suspended scaffolds for balance, and direct connections to a floor or roof for non-suspended scaffolding. In meeting each of these requirements, there are additional standards for counterweights, suspension ropes, and other elements involved.

Maintaining compliance with all OSHA construction safety standards may not always be easy or cheap, but it is imperative when lives are on the line. Should you or someone you know be the unfortunate victim of a construction or work related accident as a result of OSHA non-compliance, contact our Atlanta personal injury attorney offices for a free consultation.

Business Divorce

Let’s face it, when most people hear the word divorce they think about ending a marriage. After all, by definition divorce is, “a judicial declaration dissolving a marriage in whole or in part, especially one that releases the marriage partners from all matrimonial obligations.” Another definition is, “Any formal separation of husband and wife according to established custom.” However, a more generic definition is, “Total separation; disunion.”Business Conflict

If you look at that final definition, total separation or disunion, you’ll notice the context does not necessarily refer to marriage of persons. It could refer to a total separation or disunion of a contract or a business.

As an Atlanta business litigation lawyer, Jay Brownstein has years of experience assisting clients with business dissolutions and divorces. While a business divorce does not involve the ending of the marital union of two people, it does involve the separation of a business.

There are numerous scenarios in which a business divorce might become necessary, varying widely from one situation to another. Sometimes when a business is formed between two or more partners, a formal agreement exists that outlines the parties’ rights upon separation. However, many partnerships do not have a written agreement. In those cases, the parties’ rights can be dictated by the circumstances and applicable law.

After a business is formed, a variety of situations can occur in which one or more partners or shareholders realize that a change must occur. Differences in business strategies, goals or financial philosophies can cause serious obstacles to the continued operation of a business. If business partners agree to part ways or dissolve a business, an appropriate agreement for dissolution, transfer in ownership, or partnership buyout can be drafted and signed by the parties. However, where a disagreement can not be resolved amicably, a business divorce may require that legal counsel take certain actions to protect a client’s legal rights (including the possible filing of a court action).

If you are facing a disagreement with your business partners and need to find a resolution that is agreeable and legally sound, contact Atlanta business dispute attorney Jay Brownstein.

Cell Phone Courtesy

Work-life balance means different things for different people depending on their occupation and personal circumstances. With the use of smart phones, many individuals have adopted a work-life integration model in which they are almost constantly available via phone, text, or email. This can be quite distracting, and contrary to common courtesy and etiquette. July happens to be National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, and therefore a great time to brush up on basic rules of thumb for cell phone use in business and for personal matters. Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore offers these useful tips:Safe Driving Tips

1. Be all there.

Simply put, your focus should not be on your cell phone, messages, or emails during an important business meeting or conversation. This applies to situations across the board including legal conversations, courtroom visits, and medical office visits.

2. Keep it private.

If you don’t want others to overhear the conversation you are having on your phone, find a private location or reschedule the conversation for a later time.

3. Follow the rules.

Be respectful of your surroundings, and aware of whether or not phone use is acceptable or appropriate in those situations. Special considerations apply in movie theaters, libraries, hospitals, in educational settings, and of course courtrooms.

4. Excuse yourself.

If you are expecting a phone call, inform those you are with in advance. This will prepare them for the interruption of your meeting, conversation or time together. Keep in mind that face-to-face interactions should take precedence over phone conversations.

5. Focus on driving.

While all of the above tips are important, this one is potentially a matter of life or death. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has found that the longest duration of time in which drivers take their eyes off of the road is directly the result of text messaging, browsing, and dialing. VTTI also found that text messaging doubles the risk of a motor vehicle crash. While behind the wheel, it is critical to focus on driving and avoid distraction through the use of a wireless device.

We hope that these cell phone etiquette tips along with other safety guidelines will be useful. With distracted driving as the cause of so many fatalities and serious injuries, we can not emphasize enough how important it is to follow the final tip of focusing on driving. It is possible that you or someone you know may have been involved in a distracted driving accident, or might be at some point in the future.

The attorneys of Brownstein & Nguyen are experienced in representing distracted driving automobile accident cases in the Atlanta area. With over 20 years of representation in personal injury, the reviews and testimonials speak to the skill and integrity with which Brownstein & Nguyen represent their clients. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Brownstein & Nguyen today at (770) 458-9060 for a free consultation and review of your case.