West Virginia Record

Friday, July 19, 2019

Bill would give W.Va. employers the right to kill

By Brooks West | Feb 10, 2015

CHARLESTON – Imagine a world where corporations knowingly violate safety rules and regulations, which kills or seriously injures their workers, and in this world those dead workers’ families, who now have no breadwinners, no fathers (or mothers), are told by this world’s government:

“You have no right to ask that these corporations be held accountable for the deaths and serious injuries of your kin. In our world, employers are immune from accountability and get free passes to intentionally break safety rules and regulations, even when doing so kills or maims their employees. We are sorry for your loss, but our courts and halls of justice are closed to you,” says this government.

Does this sound like a scary world, the kind of world you want to live in? Well, if the West Virginia Legislature is successful in passing House Bill 2011, this world will become a reality in West Virginia.

According to the Legislature’s own House Judiciary Committee Counsel, that under HB 2011 – which passed the House by a 59-38 vote on Feb. 10 – it would be more difficult to hold employer’s financially accountable for knowingly violating safety rules and regulations that cause injuries or deaths to their workers than it would be to prove first degree murder.  If this is not the world you want to live in, please contact your state senator, your local delegate and let your voice be heard.

“In a state where thousands have been injured and killed on the job, it is outrageous that the West Virginia Legislature would even consider a bill that provides immunity to companies who risk the lives of their workers.  As bad as that is, it is inconceivable that this legislature would back a bill that lets a corporation get away with murder because that’s what this bill is going to do,” said Anthony Majestro, president of the West Virginia Association for Justice.

Contact Your Legislators

Your voice matters — this bill is still being debated by the West Virginia Legislature and they are listening to voices like yours.

If you do not want to live in a world where employers get a free pass for violating safety rules and regulations that kill people, please call or email your legislators and tell them to vote no on SB 11/HB 2011. Letting them know that you don’t think the West Virginia Legislature should be in the business of giving immunity to employers who knowingly violate safety laws, rules and regulations and risk the lives and safety of their workers will make a difference in this fight to save and protect the lives of West Virginia workers.

Calling your state senators and delegates is great if you have the time.  If not, you could create one email, then send it to multiple senators and delegates.

Tips for Emailing Your Legislators

Be Personal – Legislators want to hear your story in your own words. Explain how the issue affects you and your family and what your personal concerns are.

Let Them Know You Are a Constituent – It’s important that legislators know that you live and vote in their district. Be sure to tell them that you are a constituent. Also include your name, home address and phone number in your email.

Be Brief – You should focus on just this issue in the email—discuss only SB 11/HB 2011. Be sure to tell your legislator why you are emailing in your opening sentence. Include why you are opposed to the bill.

Tell the Legislator What Action You Want – In both your subject line and the body of the email, tell legislators what you want them to do. In this case, “Vote No on SB 11/HB 2011.”

Be Polite – Being nice goes a long way in influencing legislators. It’s important to be polite and not berate or argue with legislators, even if their position is opposite of yours. Explain why you believe they should vote against SB 11/HB 2011 and ask them to do so. Be sure to thank the legislator for taking the time to read your email.

West is a Charleston attorney and founder of West Law Firm.

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