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Minami Tamaki Investigating Huntington Beach Oil Spill

Minami Tamaki Investigating Huntington Beach Oil Spill

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating Houston-based Amplify Energy Corporation (“Amplify Energy”), its subsidiaries, and other corporations for their role in the massive October 2, 2021, oil spill in Huntington Beach. 

A pipeline failure from an offshore facility operated by Beta Offshore, a subsidiary of Amplify Energy, resulted in over 126,000 gallons of oil being spilled out into the Pacific Ocean. According to reports, the spill has spanned as far as 50 miles from the original spill site.  

The spill can and is affecting many individuals and businesses including:

  • Local businesses in the tourism industry and other industries impacted by the oil spill;
  • Commercial fishers and other individuals working in the fishing industry;
  • Individuals whose health and safety have been put at risk; and
  • Property owners in the area. 

Moreover, the long-term damage to the ecosystem and wildlife is still unknown and may cause harm to the area for years to come.   

News reports have revealed that Beta Offshore has been cited numerous times for safety and environmental violations, dating back decades.  

If you have been impacted by the Huntington Beach Oil Spill or you simply wish to receive more information about our investigation, you may contact Consumer and Employee Rights Group (CERG) attorneys Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Claire Choo online or at (415) 788-9000.  

*This article’s contents are for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal or medical advice.  Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information.  Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.

How Employers Can Institute Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policies Under California Employment Law

How Employers Can Institute Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policies Under California Employment Law

As many California employers re-opened their offices in recent months, and as case counts increased with the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the issue of whether to institute mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements has risen to the forefront for employers and employees. Minami Tamaki has counseled non-profit organizations and other organizations on obligations and legal developments regarding COVID-19 vaccination policies.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) has issued guidance to assist employees and employers on vaccine policies and compliance with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Further details are available here. The “DFEH Employment Information on COVID-19” includes the following guidance:

  1. Mandatory Vaccination Policy. A California employer may institute a mandatory vaccination policy as long as the employer does not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of a protected characteristic, provides reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely held religious beliefs or practices, and does not retaliate against anyone for engaging in protected activity.
  2. Exemption based on Disability. The FEHA requires employers instituting a mandatory vaccination policy to reasonably accommodate any employee with a disability. If an employee requests exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement on the basis of disability, the employer must engage in an “interactive process” with the employee to attempt to identify a reasonable accommodation.

    Reasonable accommodations that an employer and employee might consider include allowing the employee to work from home, putting reasonable procedures and safeguards in place to enable the employee to work without endangering the employee or others, job restructuring, and job reassignment.

    If providing an accommodation to an employee imposes an “undue hardship,” the employer is not required to provide an accommodation to the employee. An undue hardship is defined as an action requiring “significant difficulty or expense.” Also, if the employee is unable to perform the essential duties of the job even with reasonable accommodations, or the employee cannot work without endangering the health or safety of the employee or co-workers, the employer may exclude the employee from the workplace.
  1. Exemption for Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs. The FEHA requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees’ known sincerely held religious beliefs and practices. Therefore, if an employer imposes a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, and an employee objects to vaccination on the basis of a sincerely held religious belief or practice, the employer must reasonably accommodate the employee. Employers should engage in an interactive process with the employee similar to the process required in the disability context (see above).
  2. Documentation of Vaccination. Employers may ask employees or applicants for documentation of vaccination. However, because such documentation could include sensitive medical or disability-related information, employers should instruct these employees or applicants to omit any medical information from such documentation. Employers must maintain any records of employee or applicant vaccination as confidential medical records.

California employers are advised to follow local, state, and federal guidance on vaccinations in the workplace in order to ensure compliance with all legal obligations. For more information on COVID-19 regulation and developments, you may contact Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, or Claire Choo online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The contents of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice. Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.

Seven Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2022 ‘Best Lawyers’ List

Seven Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2022 ‘Best Lawyers’ List

The Best Lawyers in America recognized seven Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys in its 2022 edition. Partners B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Suhi Koizumi, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Senior Associate La Verne A. Ramsay made the Best Lawyers list. Associates Lisa P. Mak and Seema Bhatt were selected for Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch.

Lawyers on the Best Lawyers list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers based on professional expertise and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. The Ones To Watch awards are recognitions given to attorneys who are earlier in their careers for outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States. Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be recognized by Best Lawyers.

Olivia, Suhi, and La Verne were selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It is Olivia’s fifth, Suhi’s third, and La Verne’s first listing on The Best Lawyers in America rankings.

Dale and Mark were selected for the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs list for the ninth year in a row. Seema made the Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch list for the second straight year. In addition to being recognized again in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs category, Seema was also listed for the first time in the Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs category.

Lisa P. Mak made the Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch list for the first time in the Litigation – Labor and Employment category. Lisa’s ranking represents the firm’s first listing in the employment law category.

These individual awards qualify Minami Tamaki LLP for consideration by the U.S. News/Best Lawyers Best Law Firms list, which is announced in November. The firm has been recognized seven times on the Best Law Firms rankings, which are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. Best Lawyers has published its list for more than three decades, striving to earn the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as a reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 75 countries.

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2021 Super Lawyers

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2021 Super Lawyers

We’re proud to announce that nine Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars for 2021. Both Senior Counsels have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 18 consecutive years.

PERSONAL INJURY 
Dale Minami (Top 10, 2013-2018; Top 100, 2007-2021; Super Lawyers, 18 years) 
B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers, 12 years) 
Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars) 

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY LAW 
Olivia Serene Lee (Super Lawyers) 
Suhi Koizumi (Super Lawyers, 3 years)
Dian Sohn (Rising Stars) 

CONSUMER AND EMPLOYEE RIGHTS 
Sean Tamura-Sato (Super Lawyers) 
Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars) 

CORPORATE/NONPROFIT 
Donald K. Tamaki (Super Lawyers, 18 years) 

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is independent, and attorneys cannot purchase placements on the list.

PHOTO – TOP ROW (L-R): Donald K. Tamaki; Dale Minami Top 100; B. Mark Fong; Olivia Serene Lee; MIDDLE ROW (L-R): Lisa P. Mak; Seema Bhatt; Suhi Koizumi; Sean Tamura-Sato; La Verne A. Ramsay; BOTTOM ROW (L-R): Dian Sohn**; Angela C. Mapa; Claire Y. Choo; Judy Hinh Wong – *Chosen to 2021 Super Lawyers **Chosen to 2021 Rising Stars

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee Elected to AILA Board of Governors

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee Elected to AILA Board of Governors

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee was elected last week to the Board of Governors for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. As a board member, she will help the organization promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. Olivia will serve a three-year term that started on June 11.  

Olivia’s new role as part of AILA’s national leadership continues her service to the organization that started in 2009 when she joined the Advisory Council of the AILA Northern California chapter. From June 2016 to July 2017, she served as the Chair of AILA Northern California. During that time, the chapter won the Platinum Award, the highest recognition for AILA chapters. Before her election to the AILA Board of Governors, Olivia served as Chair of the AILA National Diversity and Inclusion committee. She also served as faculty on local and national AILA CLE panels on topics such as O-1s, H-1Bs, entrepreneur visa options, and business immigration litigation in federal court.

Olivia also serves on the American Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and on the board of Chinese for Affirmative Action.  She is a member of the National Implicit Bias Network.  

She continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Associate Lisa P. Mak serves as Vice President/President-Elect of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA). Partner Sean Tamura-Sato and Associate Claire Y. Choo also serve on the AABA Board. Claire also serves as President of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association and on the board of the Consumer Attorneys of California. Senior Counsel Dale Minami is a co-founder of AABA and of the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Partner Suhi Koizumi is a past president of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Associate Seema Bhatt serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations.

NFL to Halt Race-Based Assessments in Concussion Settlement

NFL to Halt Race-Based Assessments in Concussion Settlement

Minami Tamaki LLP is representing former National Football League (“NFL”) players regarding the class action settlement in the matter In Re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2323.  The settlement resolved allegations that the NFL was responsible for brain injuries and long-term neurological problems suffered by former professional football players. Since approval of the settlement, players have filed claims through the settlement program, which has a duration of 65 years.  

The NFL announced on June 2, 2021, that it would stop the application of “race-norming” in evaluating claims of dementia within the settlement.  The practice made it harder for Black players to show a decline in brain function and thus to qualify for a settlement award.

The change comes in response to heavy criticism of the use of race-based norms in the settlement, including a discrimination lawsuit filed by two Black former players.  Former Pittsburgh Steelers Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport alleged that the NFL has been paying claims under the settlement using a formula that “explicitly and deliberately discriminates on the basis of race.” 

In March of this year, the court ordered a mediator to review the use of separate evaluation standards.  The lawsuit also prompted members of Congress to request data from the NFL to determine whether Black players were discriminated against, as well as a petition with nearly 50,000 signatures calling for an end to race-norming. 

The NFL stated that it was committed to eliminating the use of the race-based norms and finding race-neutral alternatives. The new norms will be applied both prospectively and retrospectively for claims that would have qualified for a monetary award but for the application of the race-based norms.  As the race-neutral norms have yet to be identified, the timing for re-evaluating denied claims is uncertain.

Individuals seeking information on the settlement in the In Re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation matter can contact Minami Tamaki attorneys Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Claire Choo at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form.

Photo credit: Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash.

Minami Tamaki Law Firm and MTYKL Foundation to Donate $20,000 to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts in India

Minami Tamaki Law Firm and MTYKL Foundation to Donate $20,000 to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts in India

The Minami Tamaki LLP law firm and the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee (MTYKL) Foundation announced a $20,000 donation to support COVID-19 relief efforts in India.

The donation supported a May 27 fundraiser organized by the South Asian Bar Association of North America and others, with proceeds going to UNICEF, the Association for India’s Development, and Khalsa Aid. 

The Associated Press reported that India on Wednesday documented more coronavirus deaths in a single day than any other country at any time during the pandemic, while infections continued to spread through vast rural areas with weak health systems. The Health Ministry reported a record 4,529 deaths on May 19, driving India’s confirmed fatalities to 283,248. It also reported 267,334 new infections. India has more than 26 million cases. The numbers are almost certainly undercounts.

All of us at Minami Tamaki and the MTYKL Foundation mourn the devastating tragedy of coronavirus infections and deaths. Many of our employees and clients have been personally impacted with family members or friends who have passed away or been hospitalized by the virus. Our hearts go out to the South Asian community, and we hope our fundraiser will generate more awareness and support for India as it battles the virus.

“A Night of Light to Benefit India’s Covid-19 Relief Efforts” was on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The virtual event was hosted by the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) Foundation, SABA North America, and 20-plus SABA Chapters. The benefit featured TikTok comedian Zarna Garg, Asli Baat, the University of Southern California’s South Asian Fusion A Cappella group, and Reshma Saujani, South Asian activist and founder of Girls Who Code.

New Article by Lisa Mak on Whistleblower Protections in Advocate Magazine

New Article by Lisa Mak on Whistleblower Protections in Advocate Magazine

Minami Tamaki LLP attorney Lisa P. Mak authored an article, “Protecting Whistleblowers: Litigating Claims under Labor Code Section 1102.5,” in the May 2021 issue of Advocate Magazine.

In the article, Lisa writes that allowing employees to freely report and disclose potentially illegal practices in the workplace is an important tool in protecting other workers, shareholders, investors, and the general public from fraud, unsafe conditions, compliance issues, and other unlawful activity that may otherwise go undetected.

The California Labor Code has a general whistleblower-protection law, Section 1102.5, that can provide strong protections for employees who disclose or refuse to participate in unlawful activity at work. The statute reflects the California Legislature’s intent to protect whistleblowers, and reflects the importance of encouraging employees to report or resist unlawful activity without fear of retaliation.

Read the article here. The entire print issue can also be downloaded as a PDF.

Advocate, the largest magazine in the United States for plaintiffs’ trial attorneys, is published by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. Published since 1963, it is a peer-reviewed legal publication, written and edited by leading plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Minami Tamaki LLP’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group is committed to ensuring that the rights of workers are protected, including workers who report unlawful activity in the workplace.

Dale Minami Receives Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award from APAICS

Dale Minami Receives Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award from APAICS

The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) honored Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami with the Inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award during its Virtual APAICS 27th Anniversary Awards Gala Dinner on May 13, 2021. 

The Award was renamed this year to reflect the outstanding contributions made by Norman Y. Mineta over a lifetime of public service.  “Receiving an award named after one of my heroes is a singular honor,” said Dale.

The APAICS’ Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a prominent Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) individual in the community. APAICS honored Dale with the award to recognize his service in devoting a lifetime to breaking down stereotypes and advocating for the AAPI community.

“You have continuously fought for the protection of the rights of people who have historically been discriminated against,” wrote APAICS President and CEO Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke to Dale. “We hope to celebrate the work that you have done and continue to do.”

Founded by former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta in 1994, APAICS is a national non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office.

Watch Dale’s acceptance remarks below.