AROUND THE NATION

  • Oklahoma State Court Throws Out Gun Law

    A federal court in Oklahoma ruled that employers should and will have the authority to ban workers from bringing guns into the workplace.

    U.S. District Judge Terence Kern issued a 93-page injunction against a law that was passed in 1994, ruling that Oklahoma's forced entry law was in conflict with federal safety laws.

    “The court concludes the amendments conflict with and are preempted by the [Occupational Safety and Health] OSH Act, which requires employers to abate hazards in their workplaces that could lead to death or serious bodily harm and which encourages employers to prevent gun-related workplace injuries,” Judge Kern wrote.

    The federal lawsuit was brought by Conoco Phillips, Whirlpool and William Cos. (at different times) beginning in October 2004. The companies sought an injunction against an Oklahoma state law that barred employers from restricting firearms in the automobiles of workers in company parking lots. The companies said their compliance with the law would violate the OSH Act, intended to ensure a safe workplace.

  • Washington Man Sentenced for Workers' Comp Fraud

    Willard Leech of Bellingham, Wash., has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and 12 months of community supervision for illegally collecting workers' compensation wage-replacement benefits while working at another job.

    Leech, 53, was receiving time-loss benefits for a low-back injury that supposedly prevented him from working. Yet, for over 10 months, Leech worked steadily at general carpentry and was observed working on a ladder and maneuvering roof trusses into place.

    An investigation by the state's Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) led to Assistant Attorney General Susan DanPullo filing charges against Leech, who pleaded guilty to first-degree theft. He was sentenced Sept. 13.

    In addition to his jail sentence, which he may serve alternatively through electronic home monitoring or daily work release, Leech was ordered to repay L&I nearly $19,000 he illegally collected in benefits, plus court costs of $800.

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