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Those Personality Tests

In ninth grade, a book circulated through our class called Spirit-Controlled Temperament by author Tim LaHaye. (Amazon) It encouraged readers to identify the personalities and do a self-evaluation.

It caused a bunch of us as ninth-graders, to talk about personality traits instead of whether the Orioles had won or who was starting for the Colts. A pretty amazing feat.

The reason it was able to do that is because we all are interested in understanding ourselves. I remember after reading that book, I became a little concerned that I couldn’t decide which personality that I was supposed to be. It seemed like I fit in all the categories… seriously.

I later read criticism about the book’s attempt in categorizing everyone into 4 types of personalities. Probably a little to intense for me in ninth grade.

There is a test called the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBPT) which some firms use relating to employment.  It also helps individuals to identify job skills that they might use in looking for employment. It divides the test results into the following:

     E (extravert) or I (introvert), in interacting with others

  • S (sensor) or N (intuitive), in processing information
  • T (thinker) or F (feeler), in making decisions
  • J (judger) or P (perceiver), in dealing with the outside world

A person probably knows that they like people and are extroverted. This testing is to indicate that they might thrive in team building tasks. The extrovert probably shouldn’t try to take a job alone on some Alaskan science station.

Part of our interviewing process includes testing for job candidates. There are no right or wrong answers but the testing does attempt to quantify energy, focus and current stress levels; and whether someone is willing to work under supervision and within a team.

When I speak to the attorney candidates about the testing, without fail they ask me, “How did I do?”. I like it that it matters to them.

That brings me to the opposite spectrum. Our firm represents several clients who have suffered brain injury from a crash or even from getting slammed in the head with an airbag. It might have saved their life on impact but airbags can sure jerk your head back when they pop out of the steering wheel.

Some of our clients are diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries. That doesn’t mean that the injury is not serious, but it generally has more to do with the how long they were unconscious or  whether they were in a coma, to be categorized differently. The National Football League has also been responsible in part for helping the public understand the significance of a concussion.

The practical side of that is that many brain-injured clients are greatly fatigued, suffer personality changes or lose interest in things that meant a great deal to them before the crash. Ultimately, I have noticed that these clients don’t call and ask “How did I do?”. Unfortunately, part of the damages in these cases involves a loss of self.

If a person breaks their arm, doctors can put a cast on the arm. The sad part in a brain injury is that there is no cast that can repair a brain injury.

And for pic o’ day… here’s some real concern!!!!

IMG_0089

The Job Interview

While interviewing some attorneys for our offices, I am regularly told that my questions during the process are not “the usual”. Yes, it might mean that most don’t wander to a discussion of sports.

It might also indicate that I don’t follow the book script of memorized questions like, “Tell me what you are most proud of in your work history”. I think that kind of interview would torment me. Why? Because I enjoy getting to know the person and I fear that “book questions” give “book answers”.

Part of my interview process usually includes, “What do you want to know about us?”  That tells me about them, by telling me what they are interested in from an employment perspective. It also tells me a little about the research that they have done about the law firm.

I am sometimes surprised to find out that the job candidate has not taken the time to read our website. Can you imagine that they wouldn’t know about my blog?  Ok, I suppose you can imagine that the blog would not be on their reading list.

I do try to read books and articles that will make me a better interviewer. In that pursuit, I came upon an article on Forbes.com titled 10 Job interview questions you should ask. It lists questions that the interviewee might ask.

That’s just a quick perusal of some of my interviewing thoughts. As a mention, if you know someone who is interested in the legal field as an attorney or paralegal, please direct them to our website. Plus, you can always recommend the blog!!!!!

 

And for pic o’ day… here’s work cat:

work cat

Hollywood Interns

The article from the LA Times is summarized in its title. Lawsuit challenges a Hollywood pillar: Unpaid internships.

The attached news story describes a class action lawsuit that is being brought by the unpaid interns that worked on the 2010 Black Swan movie. It also shines the light on a Hollywood institution of free labor on the movie set. Now, this lawsuit is trying to change that.

The defense to the lawsuit  claims that a legal victory for the plaintiffs “would bring to a halt the many unpaid internships that offer real value to participants, giving them experiences and opportunities they would not otherwise receive”. It sounds like Hollywood wants to keep its free labor.

DID YOU KNOW that the U.S. minted a copper coin in 1787  that was inscribed with the motto “Mind Your Business”. “In God We Trust” first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864.

Pic o’ day:

We attack

 

Job Wanted is Job Amazing

I receive emails from a legal service called LawCrossing,  that publishes job ads and applicant availability. The following was a post for a Legal Internship at a law firm in South Carolina. Here’s what arrrived in my in box:

Legal Internship

         The candidate must demonstrate excellent academic performance in educational program, sound business acumen, leadership potential, strong work and personal ethics and a team orientation, superior communication and excellent quantitative skills are also required.

Now, what do you think of that job posting?  The job ad has been posted since August 2012. When I saw it, I first had to look up the definition of “quantitative skills”. After reading several descriptions, I think that it means looking at things through numbers and measurements. Something to do with understanding the size of things. Honestly, I’m still not real sure.

The Bureau of Statistics (I know that the minute you read that, you looked up at something else. Come on… admit it!) reported in August that the unemployment rate is roughly at 7.3 percent. That relates to the amount of people looking for a job, who cannot find one.  It does not consider people who have given up on finding a job; An unknown number.

Jobless rates are reportedly up in 28 states. Half of U.S  jobs now pay less than 34K per year. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing larger. People are feeling tremendous financial pressure just making ends meet.

Why am I writing about unemployment in my legal blog? Well, in my practice, I see clients who get hurt from car accidents or truck accidents and simply cannot afford to miss a day of work. They cannot afford to go get treatment. Or, they are already unemployed and now are limited in what they can now apply for, because of their physical condition.

I suggest that the above legal intern ad is questionable as to whether it is really a real job offer because of the content of the ad. I don’t know anyone who fits that description. Wouldn’t it be great if we had political leaders that matched that, not just a legal intern.

As I write this Tuesday blog, I know that today I will talk to people under a lot of stress. They did not cause it. Someone else did. Instead of accepting responsibility, the defendant’s insurance company argues that they must not be really hurt, or my client would have missed work. I believe that there are a lot of people who are just living in fear. Fear of what tomorrow holds.

In evaluating the worth of a case, how much is fear worth? Unfortuately, that is a real damage that must be considered. What an awful damage that some carry.

DID YOU KNOW that ketchup was sold in the 1830’s as medicine. Early versions didn’t contain tomatoes. At the time, it was thought that tomatoes were poisonous. So, early versions had flavors like blueberry, lemon and grape.

The first ketchup recipe that included tomatoes is believed to have been in an 1801 recipe book titled the Sugar House Book. From the history of the Heinz Ketchup company, it wasn’t until 1876 that F & J Heinz launched their own tomatoe ketchup. (Did you think that you would learn about the history of ketchup in a legal blog? Somehow I need to work apple pie and ice cream in)

My little footnote is a good lead-in to our pic o’ day:

dog diet

 

 

 

Tipping and Drew Brees

     NFL Quarterback Drew Brees recently became national news because of his tipping on a takeout order. (Sports Illustrated) Last month he left $3 tip on a $74 takeout order. Soon, his $3 tip became the topic of conversation on sports shows, which included a photograph.

drew brees

     Most described his tip as “cheap”.  He quickly defended himself by noting that, “had we sat down, it would have been 20% (plus)”.  Maybe he was criticized for the tip because his Saints’ football contract of 100 million over five years is such public information.

     The quotes at the bottom of the story provide good argument for expectations versus argument against a takeout tip. One person felt like “you should stay home if you won’t tip properly”.  Another pointed out that, “you realize that it’s a takeout order, right?  He didn’t sit down. No waitstaff.  It’s just takeout. Who tips for that?”

     One poster added that at some reastaurants, some employees are taxed on takeout orders because an automatic consideration of the tip is passed into their reportable income. Of course, when I read that, I decided to do some quick labor law research… ok, I really went to wikipedia!

     The practice of tipping began in England around the 1600’s. By the 1700’s, tipping was expected from overnight guests, for the servants in private homes. Soon, it extended to coffee houses and other commercial establishments.

     Federal law currently allows employers to include tip wages toward the determination of a payment of minimum wage. So, an employer could allocate a takeout order tip toward the person ringing up the order. Federal law does not allow employers to pass expected tips toward the minimum wages of such employment as dishwashers, cooks, chefs or janitors.

     One poster to the original article suggested a method for how Drew Brees could be taught a lesson on good tipping. He referred to the upcoming schedule this year with, “The Dallas Cowboys will have to make an example of him; teach him a good lesson. Don’t be cheap.”    

      And for our “Did you know?” section… Starfish have no brains. I guess that means that you shouldn’t tell someone to “stop thinking like a starfish”.

     And for pic o’ day, we go to Justin Bieber. Yes, I am regularly asked if I am related to him. Maybe he has helped business by making the name more familiar. No, I am not necessarily posting a picture of him as a connection to the starfish question. Still, I have to wonder why he would wear a couch shirt to a ballgame… just sayin’ 

      Justin Bieber

A Friday of Help

For my Friday blogs, I usually set out to do something short. Sometimes, I start out with the thought of putting a bunch of little ideas together. Like a pancake “stack em” blog.

This blog started out that way until I saw two pictures that made me smile. Then, I realized I needed to figure out a blog so I could put the pictures in. I know, a bit backwards.

So, the topic of the blog is a reminder that we are still hiring paralegals for claims and litigation. We need more help! Now, I feel like I can post my two pictures. Their topic tie-in… help!

STAFFlion help

All In!

At the beginning of the week, I asked about the attorney schedules and they told me about the following: three jury trials, a social security hearing, a worker’s compensation hearing, two mediations and an arbitration hearing.  Two of the trials did settle and the other trial is still set to go.

All these things keep the adrenaline going. Normally, I don’t use the blog to mention employment, but we do currently have ads running in various places for staff and attorneys. So, I hope that you will send someone our way for potential help in our Richmond office. We may be also adding more staff soon, in the South Carolina office.

Our January E-blast will be sent next week. If you do not receive it by the end of the week, I hope that you will let me know.

For pic 0′ day, I thought that the title of the blog pretty much tied in with the excitement at the Firm… all in!

A Bible Employment Story

In 1791, Philadelphia carpenters went on strike to demand that their employers reduce their work hours to 10-hour workdays. Their banners read “from 6 to 6”. In 1864, the eight-hour workday became a central part of demands of the Chicago labor movement.

Ford Motor Company became the symbol of a caring employer when, in 1914,  it took the radical step of doubling its workers’ pay to $5 a day and cutting their work shifts from nine hours to eight.

This brief bit of history shows that a fair wage and a good working environment has been on the mind of employees for a long time. Thursday’s devotional in “Our Daily Bread” recites the Bible passage of Matthew 20:1-16 , which is the story of employees agreeing to a wage, and then being angry about their agreement.

The story is about an employer who hires employees to work in the vineyard. They agree to work for a denarius, which was considered to be a day’s wage. They were happy for the work and happy for the fair wages.

The landowner/employer went into the marketplace and found more potential workers. He hired them on the spot and they immediately went to work, which was a few hours after the others had already begun working. They so wanted employment that they went to work without a firm agreement on their wages.

Later in the day, the landowner hired more looking for work, and they basically worked a half-day. At the end of the day, it was time to be paid. The first group were paid their agreed full day’s wages. They were happy. They were happy until the second and third group of employees were paid the exact same amount… a full day’s wages.

I enjoy that story because from a legal perspective, it is a Biblical story about an employment contract. It’s also a story about being happy with your state of affairs, until you start comparing to everyone else. An old story with modern lessons.

For pic o’ day, I went with a picture that makes me appreciate what I have. I don’t enjoy flying… but at least I’m not flying with Amish Airlines!

CNBC Says Virginia is #1

     A retail store manager hired me to represent her for injuries. She had been the first person to the store that morning. It was still dark. She entered the store and made her way to the light switch.

     Unbeknownst to her, the hired cleaning company had worked late and had just left the premises.  The newly waxed floor was still wet. My client couldn’t see the floor because it was between the door and the light switch.

     She fell, in the dark, on the slippery floor. Her fall was so severe that she ruptured two discs. Because the cleaning company was contracted by the store, we made a claim for her worker’s compensation benefits, as well as a 3rd party claim against the cleaning company.

     The Virginia Supreme Court ultimately ruled that my client’s sole claim was for a job injury under workers compensation. The cleaning company; while not employees of the store, was part of the “common enterprise” of the store. Thus, no third party personal injury claim.    

     If you are a business, then CNBC says that you want to be in Virginia. For 2011, Virginia was picked as being ranked number 1,  as the top state for business.

     Last year,Virgina was number 2. That’s got to be good because no one takes one of those big foam hands to football games, with two fingers sticking up.

     CNBC cites 10 categories that it considers, in arriving at it’s pronouncement for Best State for Business. Things like quality of life and technology; Access to capital and a workforce help make businesses successful.

     Two other important items of the ten include “business friendly” and “Cost of doing business”. Those can be broadly construed. 

     In most states, my client’s story above would have meant that the expense of her injuries would have been paid by the cleaning company. Her employer’s insurance company would have even been reimbursed.

     Instead, her recovery under workers compensation was limited; and the true responsible party was not “hit” with the business expense of paying for creating that dangerous condition, without warning. My client received very little for her injuries under workers compensation, because of the laws in Virginia.

     What is a cost of doing business. Well, if you do something that is reckless as a business, like hiring a driver without a license or someone who regularly does drugs, then you might be responsible for punishment damages.

     In many states, reckless and willful conduct is punishable by money damages, according to what will truly punish that business. Usually, something related to assets and profits are introduced to the jury, to determine what is real punishment, and to send a message.

        In Virginia, there is a limit on such punishment damages. Assets and ability to pay are not part of the equation in determining punishment/punitive damages.  Under Virginia Code 8.01-38.1, the maximum punishment is 350K. If a company is doing a billion in profit, you aren’t punishing them by a verdict or payment of 350K.

     As part of the “10” though, this is called “Cost of doing business”. A business can hire drunk drivers or multiple convicted felons who have previously caused injury by the same conduct, and the punishment damages are still only 350K.

     I think it’s great that Virginia is number one in business. Conversely, the basis for being number one could have adverse effects on the citizens. It might not simply mean we have more jobs or economic prosperity if we are rewarding bad actors in business.

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