Transgender Army Employee Wins Landmark Gender Identity Case. An Exclusive Interview with David Scher

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has announced a landmark determination that the Army discriminated against a transgender employee on the basis of her gender identification. The employee in question is Tamara Lusardi, who transitioned from male to female. The case is part of a broader push by the government and the OSC to protect lesbian, gay, and transgender employees. Attorney David Scher discusses this groundbreaking case.

David Scher

David Scher

Scher notes that this case “draws a line in the sand” about the treatment of someone who has changed gender identity. Ms Lusardi’s problems had to do with the disrespect she got from fellow employees when she made her gender transition. “She was constantly referred to as ‘he,’ even though she was transitioning from male to female.” She was harassed; comments were made about her because she was using a bathroom for women. This case sets a new standard as to how transgender employees need to be treated.

Scher opines that the changes in our society’s views about marriage, for example, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s tacit acceptance of it, are a sign that more changes are coming. Some those changes will surely affect the workplace and the way transgender employees are treated. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has largely been hung up because of gender identity issues. Scher relates the problem of a client who said he had no sexual orientation and who, because of that, had no claim.

Scher notes that the Army was making efforts to assist Ms. Lusardi. The problems were largely issues of harassment by fellow employees, who were unwilling or unable to accept the new gender identity. Scher points out that the Army’s failing was that it did not stop this conduct. Any solution to such problems will surely entail training of lower level employees to respond appropriately to gender identity issues.

David L. Scher is a principal in The Employment Law Group. Mr. Scher focuses his practice on qui tam, whistleblower retaliation, and discrimination cases in D.C., Maryland, California, and nationally. He represents federal and corporate whistleblowers who have reported their employer’s wrongdoing. Mr. Scher is a frequent news commentator and has appeared on local news WUSA9 (Montgomery county, Maryland), KSBW8 (Salinas, Monterey, Santa Cruz), as well as ABC World News and on Hearst Television, Inc. stations across the country. Additionally, Mr. Scher has been interviewed by, Politico, and the Washington Post on topics such as employment discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, free speech issues and related employment matters. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

Florida’s Red Light Cameras the Subject of $5 Million Class Action. Exclusive Interview with Steven Kramer

Steven Kramer

Steven Kramer

Kramer explains that the court has declared invalid the action of a city to trade away its authority to issue traffic citations in exchange for payments from ATS. That ruling is what led to the class action.

Kramer points out that the traffic camera company and the cities had set up a system offering motorists three options. At the outset, a vehicle owner receiving a citation could simply pay the fee and receive no points on his or her license, as with a parking ticket. Option two would be for the owner to claim not to been driving at the time, the owner can submit an affidavit and return the ticket. The third option would be to demand a court hearing. The catch is that, if you dispute the ticket and lose, you get points on your license as with any other moving violation.

“There are,” Kramer opines, “some serious constitutional issues that are being raised here.” Traditionally, there is a presumption that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof is on the state. In Florida, the burden was put on the owners of motor vehicles to show that they did not violate the law.

Kramer believes that states and cities that want to use red light cameras should change their practices so that motorists are clearly notified that the camera is operating 24 hours a day. Also, the yellow lights at intersections should not be shortened, as many have been, since that decreased reaction time can increase the risk of accidents and injuries. Also, the burden of proof needs to be placed on the city or the state rather than the owners of motor vehicles. Florida also needs to revise its “right on red” law provisions.

Steven D. Kramer is the founder of Kramer Law Firm. Kramer has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (Woodward/White, 18th-21st Editions). Kramer was also recently recognized in Florida's Best Lawyers 2013 and 2014 Editions (featured in the Wall Street Journal and Orlando Sentinel). Kramer has also been recognized as a Top Lawyer in Orlando by Orlando Magazine for 2012, 2013, and 2014, as a Legal Elite Up & Comer by Florida Trend Magazine in 2010 and 2013, a Top Lawyer by Orlando Style Magazine, and Kramer has been rated 10 out of 10 as "superb" by since 2009. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

Lionel Messi’s Tax Problems Continue: Criminal Penalties Possible

Argentinian soccer superstar Lionel Messi is back in the tax news. His tax woes were the subject of an earlier LBN report. Most recently, Messi lost an appeal to a Spanish court. Tax attorney Rob Wood discusses the Messi case and how it might play out. The case is also the subject of his Forbes article “Lionel Messi Loses Appeal, Criminal Tax Case Heads Toward Trial.”

Rob Wood

Rob Wood

Messi earns $50 million per year, making him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. The case involves both Messi and his father. Messi has said that the moving of income through shell companies was something he knew nothing about. Wood opines that the no-knowledge defense might hold up for Messi.

This case comes at an interesting time for several European companies and for the U.S. which has been battling with taxpayers with offshore income accounts. As Wood points out, anyone who signs a tax return “is signing under penalties of perjury,” and taxpayers are held to know what was going on whether they did or not.

Wood suggests that people like Messi deserve our understanding. Because of their positions in life, they are heavily dependent on teams of advisors to do the right thing and keep their clients out of trouble.

Wood explains that, notwithstanding bad advice, a taxpayer will be liable for unpaid taxes and interest. The bad advice defense comes in as to the question of penalties, mostly civil ones. The penalty is typically 25% and may be as much as 75%. And the tax case may involve criminal penalties, as was the case with Wesley Snipes.

For more information on the subject, please refer to Mr. Wood’s article in Forbes. Robert Wood is a tax attorney with Wood, LLP in San Francisco, California and spoke with The Tax Law Channel, an affiliate of The Legal Broadcast Network.  The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.