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Employment discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfairly based on factors unrelated to job performance. It is illegal to use an individual’s race, gender, age, religion, disability, or sexual orientation against him or her with regard to hiring, firing, workers’ compensation, and eligibility for disability. These laws are federally regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In Massachusetts, the Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) enforces these laws. Any assumption made by an employer based on generalizations or stereotypes violates a variety of equal opportunity acts and is cause for a potential discrimination claim.

Harassment

The EEOC defines harassment as any form of uncomfortable and unwelcome behavior based on race, color, religion, gender, age (40 or older), nationality, disability, or genetics. The basis of a harassment charge stems from two elements:

  1. The plaintiff must tolerate the offensive behavior as a condition of employment.
  2. The severity of the offensive behavior creates a hostile work environment.

In addition, it is unlawful to use harassment against any employee to keep him or her from testifying or disclosing any necessary information in a legal proceeding.

Harassment claims can be filed against a supervisor, agent of the employer, coworker, or non-employee. The person being harassed may not necessarily be the plaintiff. Any employee exposed to consistent offensive behavior may file. Continue reading

An alleged rape that took place off of the Stonehill College campus in Easton, Massachusetts has left one young woman still seeking justice. According to reports filed by Boston attorney Wendy Murphy, the unnamed victim has decided to file a Title IX complaint against the university in relation to events that took place in February of this year. The victim, a Stonehill student, believes her rights to an equal education were violated following the incident.

Attorney Wendy Murphy is representing the victim in this case, and has called for a federal investigation into the matter following the filing of the Title IX complaint. Her complaint was filed with the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education on July 30th 2015. According to the female victim, she was raped on February 15th at a location off campus by a fellow Stonehill student and athlete. The incident allegedly occurred in the bathroom of a private residence located near the school’s campus. The victim has stated in reports that she did not know the male attacker prior to the sexual assault.

The incident was not reported to campus police until March 29th, according to Martin McGovern, a spokesman for Stonehill. After receiving the initial report, campus police notified Easton police officials about the assault, and they also provided the victim with contact information for a police detective that could further help her with the issue. However, in an email exchange with Easton Police Chief Gary Sullivan, he had stated that his department does not have information regarding an alleged rape on or around the February 15th attack reported by the victim. Martin McGovern declined to provide the campus report received for the incident, and the police presence seems to go no further. Continue reading

Despite the powerful storms that rolled through the Northeast Monday and the National Weather Service’s warnings of severe winds and thunderstorms, a circus operator at Walker Brothers International Circus proceeded to host a show at the Lancaster Fairgrounds, in New Hampshire. The decision resulted in more than 30 people being injured and two spectators being killed, when 60 mph winds caused the main tent to collapse.

New Hampshire Fire Marshal Bill Degnan is still scratching his head as to why the operator let the show go on. According to Dengan, the operator had a duty to monitor the weather conditions; the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning at 5:23 p.m. Monday and the show began seven minutes later, with the storm passing through at 5:46 p.m. while more than 100 people were inside the tent.

The victims were identified as Robert Young, 41, and his daughter Annabelle, 8. Degnan said preliminary autopsy showed blunt force trauma as the cause of their fatal injuries. Witness Heidi Medeiros, who was attending the show with her 3-year-old son, said she saw a pole lift out of the ground and then slam in to the bleachers where she and her son had been sitting.

A popular bar near Boston’s TD Garden was allowed to reopen following an inspection by city officials last week.

The Greatest Bar, located on Friend Street, was investigated by Boston police officers and the chief of the Problem Properties Task Force on Thursday night during a raid of its premises for a series of reported violations.

According to WCVB, the owners of The Greatest Bar were issued 16 violations stemming from 30 different incidents reported between 2013 and 2015. The incidents ranged from everything from assaults and fights and patrons being injured, to patrons being overserved, WCVB reports. The owners were ordered to meet with city officials by Friday morning or risk having the bar shut down permanently.

In a statement made to the media, Greatest Bar co-owner Julie Fairweather said, “We are pleased to have been able to work with city officials today to address their concerns,” co-owner Julie Fairweather said in a statement. “We will be ready to work with the city again tomorrow – and moving forward from this point on – to continue making progress in addressing any concerns that they might have.”

“In August of last year, we started reaching out to the property owner, and have had no response since then,” Smith said. “There have been a number of police violations and police presence (has) showed up here. So it boiled up to the point where we felt that we needed to make some sort of action to go into the establishment and say, ‘This is not OK,'” Jerome Smith, chair of the Problem Property Task Force said. Smith went on record to say that The Great Bar is “the worst offender among Boston’s problem businesses.”

According to WCVB, the commissioner of inspectional services, William Christopher, authorities found some violations on Thursday, including problems with egress. The bar has reportedly had problems with overcrowding in the past, but when the task force arrived, there was no issue.

“We take this very seriously. That this is not just a list of places that we think are in trouble,” Christopher said in a statement to WCVB. “These are places where we are going to be very proactive about. We’re going to go out and visit them. We’re going to make sure they adhere to the rules and regulations and offer a safe establishment for people to enjoy.”

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It’s every new parent’s worst nightmare: their newborn baby is injured while in the hospital’s care.

On Tuesday morning, a veteran nurse at Uniontown Hospital in Pennsylvania accidentally dropped a 1-day-old baby while feeding and burping him in the hospital’s nursery. Though the baby suffered from a minimally displaced skull fracture, he is expected to make a full recovery, according to a hospital spokesperson. The hospital is investigating what may have caused the nurse to drop the young boy, but preliminarily suspect that the nurse had become drowsy and fallen asleep, before dropping him.

A hospital spokesperson told to Associated Press that it was unclear to him what shift the nurse was working or how many hours she had been on duty when she dropped the baby. But if it turns out fatigue played a role, the hospital could make changes to prevent similar situations, he said. Continue reading

A customer was injured this morning when a wooden trellis that had been hanging from a supermarket ceiling fell and struck him.

According to the Associated Press and authorities at the scene of the accident, the man was checking out at a Pittsfield Price Chopper, when the 50-pound decoration unlatched and plummeted towards him. A spokesperson for the supermarket chain said that an electrician had been working on a lift near the trellis and had accidently caused the securement cable on the ceiling to snap. Several other decorative trellises were removed as a precaution. Luckily the customer suffered only minor injuries, but was transported to an area hospital as a precautionary measure. Continue reading

A video released last week on Good magazine is sending a chilling reminder to parents of the dangers of child swimming accidents.

According to the CDC, 10 people die each day as the result of a swimming-related accident. Two of those deaths, include children ages 14 and under, the CDC says; drowning accidents are the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4. In 2012, there the CPSC reported 364 fatal swimming accidents; the majority occurred in residential swimming pools. In more than 50% of drowning incidences, drowning victims who were not fatally injured required hospitalization and further care for severe brain injuries, long-term disabilities (memory problems, learning disabilities, loss of bodily function, etc.)

Factors Impacting Instance of Drowning

Major League Baseball is having a serious discussion about fan safety after a woman was critically injured last week when she was struck with by a piece of broken bat that had flown into the stands during a Red Sox game.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters on Monday that the league will be “reevaluating where [they] are on all safety issues,” according to SportingNews.com.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the commissioner added, “You have to react strongly to an incident like this, but I think the best word for it is that we’re going to reevaluate where we are on the topic.”

While Manfred said that safety at ballparks has improved since the league conducted a 2008 study of broken bats, which ultimately led to changes in bat regulations. The AP reported that, “shattered bats are down about 50 percent since 2009.”

The commissioner said the league has spent a great deal of time making safety a priority, but this incident has changed the scope of their focus and they will be making more changes to ensure bats are safer. Manfred said that players may also have a say in what changes are made.

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A Massachusetts woman was seriously injured when she was thrown overboard during a boating accident just outside of Boston Harbor.

According to WCVB, the Massachusetts Coast Guard received a call from a 29-foot vessel named Naut Guilty of persons overboard near Spectacle Island. One woman had her severed her arm at the shoulder; five other people were also thrown overboard.

The Coast Guard was able to retrieve everyone out of the water safely and the woman was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of her injuries. The boat’s owner and operator Benjamin Urbelis, 33, of Charlestown was arrested on charges of operating under the influence. Police have not said whether the boating accident was directly caused by Urbelis’s operation of the boat and the accident remains under investigation.

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According to a new report published by the Boston Herald, at least 20% of elevators in Massachusetts (an estimated 8,500) have not had their yearly safety inspections, as required by law. The Herald says that while the numbers are high, a state safety watchdog anticipates those figures are “low-balling” the issue.

As of March 2015, state official had evaluated just shy of 80% of about 41,000 elevators in Massachusetts, according to the Herald who had obtained documents from the Department of Public Safety. That means that approximately 8,600 elevators have not been properly inspected this year.

It seems this problem is ongoing; the Herald reported that State Auditor Suzanne Bump had taken issue with the public safety department back in November 2014, after an audit revealed that some 14,200 elevators had expired inspection certificates.

“Our audit found that, in addition to backlogs in inspections, DPS’s record keeping database was inaccurate,” Bump said in a statement to the Herald. She pointed out that in dozens of elevators her investigators checked, more than half had certificates with different information than the public safety department’s database.

“While we certainly hope their inspection rate is improving,” Bump said, “we don’t know if these recent reports are accurate.” (bostonherald.com)

Officials have claimed that they will hire more elevator inspectors, but as of last week, the Herald reported, they had just 55—just one more since May 2014 when a woman was seriously injured when she fell down an elevator shaft at Fenway Park.

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