Monday, September 27, 2010

Idaho Employment Law - Reasonable Accomodation

As an Employment Lawyer in Boise ID I regularly get calls about disabilities and reasonable accommodation in the workplace. Federal Law requires that all federal, state and local government employers, all private business with 15 or more employees and all church related offices with 15 or more employees comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA states that when a disability exists in an employee the employer must make reasonable accommodations for the disabled individual. The only time an employer does not have to follow this requirement is if the accommodation is burdensome upon the business financially or the accommodation would change the nature and the character of the particular service.

Having practiced employment law in Boise ID for 17 years, I have seen many situations where miscommunication has led to either the employee being unable to prevail on a disability complaint or charges being brought against an employer. On the employee's side, communication of the disability is critical to the success of your claim against an employer. On the employer's side, once a disability is communicated, it is critical that it is determined what reasonable accommodation means to that particular employee. As an Employment Lawyer in Boise ID, I would advise both employees and employers to be very clear about what the disability is and what accommodation is reasonable.

Firstly, once a disability is communicated, the employer cannot simply presume they know what the accommodation should be. They should communicate with the employee as to what would enable them to do the job and to participate so that their handicap does not prevent them from doing their job. If relevant, they should also request that the employee contact their physician and have their input considered as well.

Secondly, what is reasonable accommodation according to the ADA? Certain accommodations are obvious, such as wheel chair ramps, handicap accessible office space and automatic door openers. If your disability is not obvious, the accommodation may also not be obvious. The ADA requires that the accommodation be reasonable in a subjective sense. So, for example, if you have an employee that has arthritis and is a cashier, you may have to provide them with a chair or provide them with different job responsibilities.

Employment law has come a long way in protecting the individual and allowing all people to participate in daily activities and employment. For more information about the ADA and the EEOC please visit or

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Boise Divorce Attorney Discusses How Child Custody is Determined

I'm sure you have heard friends talk about their divorces and how they couldn't tell what was going on as far a child custody. As a Boise Divorce Attorney I can tell you that child custody isn't determined on the whim of the judge. There is a very specific set of circumstances that are evaluated to determine the "best interest" of a child. Idaho Code section 32-717 outlines these factors. It states that the court shall consider all relevant factors in a child custody determination including the ones it outlines.

Firstly, the court is directed to consider the wishes of the parents as to custody. Very rarely are parents in agreement on what that arrangement should be. This is why the court doesn't stop there. The second factor is the wishes of the child or children. This is an option that is addressed primarily when the children are older. A child under seven is very rarely able to express with a degree of certainty which parent they would like to spend the majority of their time with. A child of this age doesn't understand permanence in a way that they can actually add valuable input for the judge. A related factor is the character and the circumstances of all the individuals involved. It used to be that it was thought that the best interest of the child meant to be placed with the mother because mothers are more sensitive and caring toward children. The court in the passed 25 years has acknowledged that it is not unheard of for fathers to be more stable, have better character and in a better set of circumstances to parent the children. The best interest idea shifted because courts began to look at this specific criteria.

Beyond the wishes of the parties and the children, to determine child custody the judge will look at the interaction of the parties with each other, the children and any siblings. The court looks at these to determine if the children will be placed together with specific parents or if they will alternate. Children's relationships with their siblings are very important and if they have a strong bond with each other the court does not want to disturb this. This also applies with step siblings. The court will look at the visitation schedules of step siblings where there is a very strong bond between step siblings to ensure that their time together is not disrupted.

The fourth and fifth factors go hand in hand. The court will look at the child's adjustment to his or her home, school and community and from there the court will seek to promote this continuity and stability for the child. Divorce disrupts a child's life and so this is a critical factor. Parents often move after divorce, the children change schools and even communities. If one parent resides in the family home and the children can remain in their historical schools and communities the court will weigh this very heavily as to maintain the stability.

The court will also look at any record of domestic violence. This, can rise to the level where it is a superseding factor. If one parent lives in the family home where the stability of the child may be maintained but is or has been abusive to the other parent, the abuse will be considered a factor against the offending parent. One thing to keep in mind, however, as a Boise Divorce Attorney I often see the domestic violence card played and often it is played as a tactic against the other party. I am in no way belittling the importance of filing dv when it is necessary, I just want to point out that it can be used as an attempt to cloud the court's opinion.

As a Boise Divorce attorney I have seen another tactic that divorcing parents often will try to use against each other; parties will claim that one parent is disabled and therefore they are unfit to parent. The Idaho Code has specifically addressed this and has stated that a disability in and of itself will not render a parent unfit. It states that the parent will be evaluated taking into account how they might parent considering how they themselves have adapted with their disability.

Child custody in Idaho is specifically based upon the best interest of the child. The best interest, however, is not based upon the whim of a judge. With the help of the above outlined factors a judge will make his or her decision. The judges can and do weigh other factors, when presented to them, if they believe that they will have an impact on the best interest of the child. However, unless the parties agree, rarely is anyone completely satisfied with the results.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Idaho Criminal Attorney Discusses Background Checks

As an Idaho Criminal Attorney I often have to do background checks. Some checks are routine, while others require that I do a little digging. I sometimes even have to pay for the search. If an Idaho Criminal Attorney has to pay, do you? You bet.

I am sure you understand why an Idaho Criminal Attorney would need to look into someone's background, but is there ever a reason for Joe Q. Public to look into someone's background? Absolutely! If you are a landlord, for example, you may want to know if your potential tenant is a criminal. If you are an employer you may also need to look into your potential employee's background. And, let's face it - sometimes we are just curious what our friends or acquaintances have been up to.

Free searches are available at Here you will have the same access as I, an Idaho Criminal Attorney, have. You can also run searches on property online at the Ada County Assessor's Office website. However, if you want to know who owns the property, you will have to go to the Ada County Courthouse and stand in line with the other people who look like an Idaho Criminal Attorney. At this same computer, you can find all sorts of criminal background on individuals for free. The worst part is that you have to go to the courthouse, find the computer and hide your shock and amazement! You can also check archived editions of various local papers at your local library.

You can also do name checks and finger print checks and with the Idaho State Police. In 1993 Congress passed the National Child Protections Act. This Act law allow qualifying entities to submit fingerprint cards on individuals who will be working with children. In 1994 the Act was amended to include the elderly and those with disabilities. You can get the forms necessary to do these three types of searches by visiting Name and fingerprint searches cost $10/search. I think it is funny that the State Police website reminds us that criminals often use aliases!

Of course there are all sorts of online programs that offer "free" searches, such as While these might get you some information, they always just whet your appetite and want you to pay for a "full" search.

Take it from this Idaho Criminal Attorney, there is lots of information out there. Finding might take some time, but it is always amazing and/or shocking what you find. Happy searching.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boise Divorce Attorney Discusses Managing the Stressful Effects of Divorce on Children

The divorce rate in the United States sits firmly at 50%. While any divorce is stressful, a divorce can be particularly traumatic when children are involved. Research shows that children who are in the middle of a high conflict divorce may suffer from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, poor school performance and low self-esteem. No parent wants to harm their child but often the pressure both parents are experiencing during a divorce translates into extreme stress for their children.

As a Boise Divorce Attorney I have seen full grown adults lose their dignity and self-respect during contentious divorce litigation. I have often wondered why the adults can't see past their own issues and see what they are doing to their children. My perspective isn't one of being overly critical of these people, it is an outsider's perspective which, in order to be an effective divorce attorney, I must seek to understand. As a Boise Divorce Attorney, in order to help my clients and their children, I must seek to understand how two people who once loved each other, now cannot stand each other; and how two people who love their children can put their kids in these terribly stressful situations. As part of my job as a divorce attorney I need to help my client, and hopefully through example, help the other party, resolve their divorce as amicably as possible. If not for my client's self-preservation, for their children's.

The most difficult aspect of being a divorce attorney is seeing the conflict that effects the children of divorce. I strive to help my clients through this and to find ways to intervene. In Ada County, judges require that parents go to mediation, and as a Boise Divorce Attorney I routinely send my clients through it, with mixed results. I have had some success explaining to my clients that it is better for them and their soon to be ex's to work out a parenting plan on their own instead of having a plan that doesn't work or a plan that is forced upon them by the court. I have also had some success explaining the statistics about the effects of divorce on kids to my clients and encouraging them not to put their kids in the middle. I have also had success sending my clients to parenting classes.

I have heard of Boise divorce attorneys setting up third-party custody transfers but I find these too harsh and unrealistic. These people will eventually need to learn to co-parent and I see it as a crutch.

As a Boise divorce attorney I strive to understand this issue in order to help my clients. It would be a fine day in Idaho when the Court would develop a highly effective way of managing the stressful effects of divorce on children.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Idaho Employment Law and Small Business DOL Requirements

Federal law requires that employers post specific government posters concerning workers rights. In Idaho the required posters include equal employment opportunity, Idaho minimum wage law, OSHA job safety, employee polygraph protection, family and medical leave act, Idaho unemployment benefits, discrimination and military family leave. There are potential penalties, citations and/or sanctions for failure to post.

Not all businesses and industries are obligated by all workplace laws, however, and therefore are exempted from certain postings. For example, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not covered in the family and medical leave act and as such need not post state and federal guidelines concerning the act (but don't confuse your obligations under workers comp laws with FMLA). If, however, you have employees you must pay minimum wage (with a few exceptions) and you therefore need to display your appropriate poster.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Idaho Employment Law

Idaho Employment Outlook Still Grim:

Idaho's jobless rate increased by a tenth of a percentage point in August reaching 8.9%. Despite the Federal Government's continued extension of unemployment payments, many Idahoans have dropped out of the job search. The number of people in Idaho working or seeking worked dropped to 756,000. Although the private sector added 1000 new jobs allowing new hires to increase to 13,000 for only the second time this year, the jobless ratio (the ratio of unemployed to jobs) still sits at 7 unemployed workers to 2 job openings.

This economic environment is one where you should question "why was I fired?" or "was I discriminated against during the hiring process?" No one can afford to lose their job or not be hired now.