The New World and a New Sense of Legality: Crime and Punishment at the Workplace and Beyond

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Order is born out of chaos but not through natural ways or means. In other words, there has to be a systematic attempt at defining rules and implementing judgments with precision for such order to be materialize. Although philosophically speaking, there is always the element of criticism and objection against such authority construction and keeping, it is also an observable fact that order brings long-term success and stability. Law in this sense is an instrument of professional design and inarguably effective application that binds social mechanisms and constructs with the members and institutions of society. Therefore, laws are fundamentally important building blocks of modern day societies and their diverse categorization and fields of specialization are equally important to understand in the pursuit of adhering to modernity and its legal expectations. Many people consider lawyers to be professionals who can handle legal issues of all types with ease for every citizen in a society. However, the truth of the matter is that specialization matters. Therefore, understanding law and its categorization are becoming more important for all modern day citizens who find themselves in various types of legal trouble, while the media involvement in the issue is nothing short of promising. As more journalists and researchers pay attention to new laws, emergent legal complications and paradoxes or simply investigate into specific cases of interest, the regular Joe becomes far more interested in and enlightened about legal issues, decreasing the chances of violations and breaches while increasing social good and benefits.

One of the most important aspects of modern day law that directly concerns regular people is employment law as everybody has a job or business and nobody wishes to be cheated out of their rights. Gabriel Winant for The Guardian reports on the dangers at the American workplace for American laborers to point out that the Trump administration’s approach to labor politics and laws might have catastrophic effects on the wellbeing of American workers. The author initially refers to the case of Alphonse Maddin, a truck driver in the US who had a ridiculously amateurish incident on his way to a destination in Illinois during the winter of 2009, which led to a court case between Maddin and his employer firm, TransAm. Upon a technical malfunction related to the truck’s brakes and heating system, Maddin failed to deliver his goods on time and was fired due to his incompetence and incapability to carry out his duties. He counter-sued, claiming that he eventually delivered the respective goods, but lost the case because Donald Trump’s appointed supreme court judge Neil Gorsuch denied his appeal, on the grounds that the relevant statute in the constitution “only protects workers who refuse to operate equipment out of safety concerns” and therefore “by unhitching the trailer and driving the cab away, Maddin hadn’t refused to operate the equipment, but had rather hijacked it for his own purposes.”

The implications of such a decision are vast for the common American worker today, as in 2016 only, 5,190 workers died during their duties while “another 50,000 to 60,000 die annually of occupational diseases, and nearly 4 million experienced[s] work-related injuries or illnesses.” This latter figure, according to the report, is a drastic underestimate, with the real figure likely between 7.4 million and 11.1 million injuries and illnesses per year. In other words, when and if the newly appointed judges and their judiciary turn their backs on such workers who are already experiencing significant discrimination at their workplaces, the issues of social justice and equality will be significantly impeded. The Trump administration’s inclination to side with the rich and the powerful in the country has been observed by millions of people but regarding issues of such crucial significance for the under-represented majority, such inclinations might deal a lot more harm than other ordinary cases. Winant concludes her remarks by stating that the Trump administration has been nothing short of a disgrace for representing the rights of the commoners in America, whether it be regarding employment, healthcare or education, and underlines the fact that a significant civil reaction and opposition is necessary to make tables turn before serious harm is dealt to the American public. In such instances, it is important to invest in a no fault workers comp system to deal with workers compensations and injuries sustained while on the job.

Conservatives are people who are likely to have fixations with crime and its association with minorities but even in the most conservative and developed societies such as England, where the establishment is conservative and quite strong crime rates are on the rise with no indication of a correlation between migration and such a new crime wave. Chris Hemmings for the BBC network reports on the alarmingly rising rates of burglary in the urban areas of the country with an observable drop in the criminal charges associated with such violations. The author specifically refers to a 6% rise in “burglary reports in England and Wales” in conjunction with a decrease of 33% for “the number of criminal charges faced by [their] offenders.” The report is dated 2017, when actual numbers of such incidents rose to 325,901 while the number of charges decreased to 22,378 with the UK government citing the police resources as a priority and a reason. Hemmings takes a liberal approach to emphasize that the UK police is trying to induce personal and local responsibility among the citizens to pay more attention to safety measures and directly contact the authorities when and if need be. The article also provides a link to a centralized information network operated by the Scotland Yard, which aims at providing useful contact information for those in danger as well as those dealing with the aftermaths of a burglary or break-in. The author then refers to the story of Colin Bennet, whose home was robbed by two men in West Midlands in 2016, when he lost significant sums of cash along with his late wife’s wedding rings. The local police force investigated into the issue seriously but it was too late to find or recover the money or the possessions and therefore the investigation yielded no significant results, except for a couple of leads. Hemmings associates such incapability with the fact that the police force was cut continuously shorter in its funding by the respective authorities in the last 8 years, with a significant 20% drop, resulting in 20,000 fewer officers. Similarly, the article takes note of how the West Midlands Police could only achieve resolving 5.8% of such cases in 2017, showing how incapable they have become over these years. Hemmings’ argument therefore gains a critical and acquisitive turn at this point, with the author directly targeting the financial policies of the British government as the most obvious reason for the trouble. With minimal financial incentives or capabilities, the British police seems to be backing down on its intentions of catching burglars, punishing them and returning the stolen properties, which might very well turn into a more significant issue in the years to come.

Another issue of critical concern for billions of people, mainly women of all ages, in today’s world is sexual assault at the workplace as its legal definition and recognition are both still problems. The harassing behaviors of certain bosses and employees in today’s business world are becoming close-to-impossible for billions of female workers in the world and several developed societies have already taken significantly bold steps to identify and punish such violators. Emily Peck for The Huffington Post reports on the unfortunate reality of legal silencing for such cases and complaints that is still a serious issue in the American society and business world alike. According to her article, “of all the tactics companies use to silence women who speak up about sexual harassment, the way corporate lawyers question victims in depositions may be the most brutal” and that defense lawyers are paying significant attention to confronting such issues and investigating into “every aspect of their [violators’] sexual histories, medical records and traumas from childhood.” Peck refers to a specific case involving a woman Enilolobo Malika Oyo, “a vice president in investment banking at ANZ’s New York office in 2013 and 2014” who “sued the bank in federal court in 2016 for sexual and racial discrimination,” seeking millions of dollars for psychological and legal compensation. ANZ Bank seems to be on the same page with Ms. Oyo but is seeking a way out of the mess without experiencing too much legal trouble. The incident dates back to 25 years ago when Oyo was a freshman at a New York college and was doing an internship at the bank. Currently, the investigation is continuing with a focus on Oyo’s psychological background along with the medication she was taking to ensure that she remembers and reflects on everything correctly. The definition of sexual assault is also much debated and therefore the legal team working on the issue also is trying to make sure that the mentioned incident does indeed satisfy the legal requirements in terms of definition. As the legal battle continues, the media has also taken significant interest in the issue, considering the African-American background of Oyo, taking the woman’s side against possible interventions and influences to come from the racist sects of the New York society. The bank is officially interested in the case and does not seem to wish to cover up the story, meanwhile trying to maintain its positive image in the eyes of its employees and the public alike. With a possible outcome of an out-of-court settlement, the case is still on-going and attracting significant public and media interest. The relevance of the case however is more important than ever in the changing and progressing American society: how women, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, are standing up against sexual harassment at the workplace and how the legal system is fine-tuning itself to ensure just trials and jurisdiction. As the legal system continues to evolve and renovate itself, there will be further cases and hopefully the justified cases will make examples for future ones as point of reference to ensure that incidents like this do not repeat themselves in the future for a better American workplace and a society.

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