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Former Employee to Have Day in Court

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Escondido, CAIn June, 2008 LawyersandSettlements interviewed Benny J. regarding Guitar Center's alleged California labor law violations. Benny has been unable to return to work since that time but he will soon have his day in court and his lawyer is confident Benny will win his case and receive back pay—a substantial amount.

Amplifier InjuryThe lawsuit stems from an injury Benny suffered when working at the Guitar Center. In a nutshell, he was almost electrocuted from a faulty amplifier and to this day, still has seizures. The company more or less turned a blind eye to the incident and has consequently dug itself into a deep legal mess, violating more than one California labor law…

"After I filed an injury report with the Guitar Center, it mysteriously went missing," says Bernie. "I was then supposed to see the company doctor but they postponed that and I had to use my own health insurance to get medical care. After I realized they weren't going to help me, I decided to look for an attorney.

I didn't want anything, I just wanted my medical bills to be taken care of; we had a health insurance policy at work and of course I was entitled to Workers' Compensation. I wasn't looking to go to court, I just wanted to be treated for the injury but the bosses at Guitar Center couldn't care less and that was disturbing. I hired a lawyer and right away we filed Workers' Compensation papers. Next up, I did the depositions with the opposing attorney—he had a million questions to ask. My attorney said everything went well--I just told the truth. He was adamant throughout this whole case that I say exactly what happened—there was no denying the proof, to us anyway.

The other side took witness statements with four employees at Guitar Center. One of them didn't even work there at the time of the accident and two more gave information that was favorable to me. They both said that I told them I had been electrocuted. And one guy even smelled the smoke from the amplifier (that needed to be repaired and almost electrocuted me).

However Zurich, the insurance company for Guitar Center, denied my claim, saying there was no problem with the amplifier. It also said there was not an amplifier brought in to be repaired on that particular day. (After the accident, I went back to the store to find the repair order for the amp because I had forgotten which day it came in. Surprisingly, the work order was nowhere to be found in our computer.)

I did report this incident to the Occupational Safety Hazard Association (OSHA). They went to the Center and did an inspection. Lo and behold, they found multiple electrical violations and documentation violations. We do have HR but OSHA sent them numerous violations on their procedures, such as falsification of documents and records, and safety issues. (To date, they have fines totaling $11,000 from OSHA.)

For instance, if an employee was injured on the job, there was no way for him to report the injury. There was no chain of command or written procedures. As for safety training on ladders or extension cords, for example, HR will have a form they want you to sign, stating that you have had this training. But we haven't had any training. This is a typical example of falsified records. One form was dated January 2008 with every employee's signature then they had another for February and March with everyone's signatures. But January and February are duplicates with the dates changed. They were identical—are they really that stupid, thinking they could dupe everyone?

We filed the lawsuit and Guitar Center denied everything. My attorney is aggressive (and that's a good thing) and we are now getting a court date. He says with the two employees' evidence, they have no reason to deny my claim. We also filed serious and willful misconduct. In other words, Guitar Center knew of an existing problem yet did nothing to fix it. For instance, the way they stack speaker boxes caused one employee to have neck surgery and they are still stacking them the same way.

In another incident, a live electrical plug was hanging out of the wall, I told HR about it but they did nothing. One month after my injury, I showed the store manager the cord. 'The next person who touches this might not be as lucky as me,' I said. If someone touched that plug, they would get shocked. The last time I went to the store, two weeks ago, it was fixed.

I just want my back pay and my medical bills covered from this lawsuit. I have been off work since November 2007 and I have tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. I'm getting state disability checks of $500 every two weeks but that runs out at the end of this month. I just hope I get my day in court soon. This is ridiculous---I didn't go to work to get electrocuted, I was just doing my job.

I still have seizures but they aren't so bad. I have to take 9 pills in the morning and 12 at night. I have lost my drivers license and I'm not sure if I will ever be able to drive again. I hope one day to return to work—I'm bored. I would like to return to the Guitar Center but the few times I went to the store I was treated like a leper, even by the employees.

My lawyer is confident that I will win this case. It is about getting what I paid and what I am owed. And companies should not violate the California Labor Law."


Posted by

i to was shocked at work feel very hard to prove im a hairdresser, had 2 clients in the room at the time i as routine doing hair color hair cut blow dry style takes about 1 hr 1/2 thats how i know the time frame, i had just got through drying a clients hair hung up blow dryer walked to dry towels behind shampoo bowl to back bar while reaching into cabinet i felt a horrible pain in center off chest like i had swallowed air it hurts went back to station put oil drops and rubbed hands together went toward client to put on her hair, and something felt like it was burning like fire in my left heel and i yelled, i raised my heel up half way but felt like it was taking back to floor and i could feel my heel sink on the mat a black mat at that, i was thinking other heel wasnt burning but i could get away my brain was saying hot get off i couldnt, i yelled the 2nd time and kicked right shoe off i let go off chair and it seemed i then kicked other shoe off jumped off of mat,took a deep breathe and it seemed it took for ever im sure it wasnt, i told my clients i think i just got shocked, asked client did she feel any thing , she said no, i asked did i touch you she said no you grapped chair, other client rann to me and said you are sweating so bad i said i know i was on fire, told lady i worked with she asked if i was standing in water, i said no standing on mat, i really thought i just escaped something hear, 20 minutes later i realized i was hurt felt the most pain in left heel and would freeze or drop or sling what i was holding while continue to work i could be electrical no cord under mat no way, every 20 minutes i was having muscle contractions, was flinking things out of right hand, this went on until couldnt take ithad to fiqure this mystery out, went to doc that day, told what it thought happened, heart rate was real fast blood pressure low, doc gave me meds as tho it could be a herniated disc, worked for next 2days third day couldn't in bed, scared couldnt understand what was really going on assumed has to be back, 2 days more back at doc for xrays bones seemed to be ok i was still confused, back or electrical shock, go back to work 8 days has past same time frame just got through washing client was fixinf to pick up blow dryer and we heard zzzzzzzzz sound i froze heard it again, zzzzzzzzzzzz, so i knew this is electricity i here, go tell lady i work with, she said again u standing in water, i said no standing on black mat no cord under mat, she is sick of me by this point and says i dont you got shocked which really makes me mad to think about, she comes in room turns off my surge pretector, and raises my mat and i was stuck to floor in the area where i was standing when i thought i got shocked, and quess what it was wet as a sponge you couldnt see it or feel it from looking or standing on it weird i asked her how did my mat get wet under it, it soaked it up like a sponge, she said it flooded in here 3 weeks ago remember when we had that last storm, well that was on sunday i dont go in till wednesday i would have never known that only been in room a year she was in this room 17 years wish she had told me when i moved in,, wonder if she got shocked before in this room why did she say are you standing in water, anyway called doc he says get off of all meds he put me on see if i get better i did, except, i feel like my back was numb through all that my pain was in heel, until now i feel my back aching still feeling sore stiff a muscle on my right leg about 3 inches from knee looks like atrophy setting in weird this has been about 6 months now still scares me i didnt feel anyone believed me. thanks for reading DEE


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