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What You Need to Know Now About the False Claims Act

A whistleblower attorney and their clients often make the front page of the newspaper. That’s because the issues involved often apply to more than just the case at hand. That’s especially true of cases involving fraud against the government. The US government has enacted many rules and regulations to keep industries that supply goods and services to governmental agencies on their toes. These regulations can have many beneficial effects, including a cleaner environment, safer working conditions, and less waste and fraud. However, the regulations only work if they’re followed.

Sometimes industries sidestep or simply ignore regulations in an attempt to cut corners and defraud the government. Employees who discover this type of fraud may not know who to turn to for help. They may also fear workplace retaliation or harassment in the workplace. That’s why a whistleblower attorney is so important when reporting fraudulent activities by an employer who works for the government. The attorney must also be prepared to help the whistleblower defend themselves against workplace retaliation.

What are some of the tools a whistleblower attorney uses to help their client?  One of the most important laws is the False Claims Act. Let’s take an in-depth look at this important piece of legislation, and examine how it’s used by whistleblower attorneys:

The False Claims Act

President Abraham Lincoln signed this provision into law on March 2, 1862. Since its enactment, it has become one of the most powerful anti-fraud laws in the United States. It allows an individual to act on behalf of the government and take action, such as a lawsuit, against a federal contractor they believe committed fraud against the government. A whistleblower attorney frequently applies this law when filing lawsuits on behalf of their clients.

How Did the False Claims Act Come About?

During the American Civil War, fraud was rampant among suppliers to both the Union and Confederate armies. Unscrupulous contractors and suppliers often provided troops with inadequate or poor quality supplies. They would often supply rancid food and provisions, shoddy weapons and ammunition, and uniforms whose stitches barely held together just to satisfy their contracts.

Neither the Union nor Confederate governments had the knowledge or resources to pursue cases against these fraudulent suppliers. In 1863, President Lincoln enacted the False Claims Act to fight this fraud. The act allowed individuals to take action against any contractor they knew was defrauding the government, on behalf of the government. As an incentive or reward, those individuals receive a percentage of any money recovered from the lawsuit. This is known as the qui tam provision.

Qui Tam Whistleblower Attorney and Client Provisions

This provision is one of the most important parts of the false claims act for whistleblower attorneys and their clients. The name qui tam comes from the Latin phrase Qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur. Translated from Latin, this means: [He] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself. The provision gives individuals the right to collect a reward for bringing fraudulent activity to light. Depending on circumstances, the government offers a reward of between 15% and 25% of any award granted from the lawsuit.

Anti-Retaliation Provisions

In 1986, Congress amended and strengthened the law, They discovered that an increasing amount of fraud, especially in the defense industry, was going unaddressed, and in some cases, undetected as well. Among the amendments were a series of protections against a worker who files a Qui Tam lawsuit against an employer. Any harassment in the workplace or workplace retaliation by an employer as a result of the lawsuits is illegal.  Their actions may cause a separate lawsuit by civil rights lawyers if there is a hostile work environment present.

When an employer is working for the federal government, they need to follow all the rules and regulations pertaining to the industry. The regulations ensure the contractors deliver the products or services the government paid them for.

Help From a Qualified Whistleblower Attorney

If you believe a federal contractor is sidestepping important regulations, you need to get involved to stop the fraud. You also need to protect your rights in the case of any workplace retaliation. The first step you can take is to speak to a whistleblower attorney about the alleged infraction. The Law Offices of Cathe Caraway-Howard and her team understand the ins and outs of regulations like the False Claims Act, and know how to apply the law to protect you. They can help you put an end to fraudulent activity by unscrupulous employers.

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5 Most Influential Cases By Civil Rights Lawyers

There are many influential Supreme Court cases that have shaped American history. These cases influenced how citizens exercised the civil rights granted to them by the United States Constitution. Many have set precedents on when and how a citizens’ civil rights are violated. Civil rights lawyers agree that these are some of the most influential decisions made by the Supreme Court:

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Civil rights attorneys note this case as one of the most important cases in Supreme Court history. This case was the first of its kind to use the “judicial review” principle. This principle gave courts the power to overturn an Act of Congress they considered against the constitution. This case was an essential element in establishing the Supreme Court as a separate branch of government. It put the Supreme Court on a par with the legislative and executive branches as a check and balance component of the government.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

In 1892, the State of Louisiana passed a law that legalized segregation of blacks and whites. In a groundbreaking decision, civil rights lawyers lost the case. The Supreme Court upheld the Louisiana segregation laws. This opened the door for the famous separate, but equal era of segregation. The only dissenter, Justice John Marshall Harlan, remarked that the ruling would “stimulate aggressions, more or less brutal, upon the admitted rights of colored citizens.”

Brown v. Board of Ed. Topeka Kansas (1954)

This is probably one of the most famous victories for civil rights lawyers in the history of America. This civil rights case was actually five separate cases heard by the Supreme Court. Each case challenged segregation in public schools. The main case started in Topeka, Kansas. Segregation laws forced a student to walk several miles to attend a blacks only school while a whites only school was much closer.

Civil rights lawyers challenged the laws on the grounds that they were in violation of the 14th Amendment. This amendment states that every citizen has the right to equal protection under the law. The state claimed that prior Supreme Court decisions like Plessy v. Ferguson set the precedent for the laws to stay. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the civil rights attorneys and overturned the Plessy case precedent. This decision marked the beginning of the civil rights movement.

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Arizona police arrested a man by the name of Ernesto Miranda. They charged him with kidnapping and raping a woman. He was never informed of his rights, and he did not know to ask for a lawyer. He faced a grueling interrogation by police over the next two hours. Ernesto confessed to the crime through the interrogation. His civil rights attorneys later argued that police violated his rights, and appealed.

The Supreme Court acquitted Ernesto Miranda of the charges. They also ruled that police must inform all citizens under arrest of their rights before police may question them. Any information or statements acquired before a citizen learns their rights is inadmissible in court. This case became the grounds for the famous Miranda Rights that police must read to citizens upon arrest.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

Norma McCorvey of Texas was pregnant but did not want to give birth to the child. At the time, it was against state law for women to have an abortion. Taking the name of “Jane Roe”, she and civil rights lawyers sued the State of Texas. They claimed laws outlawing abortion violated her rights to privacy. The civil rights attorneys argued that the laws interfered in what Roe could or could not do with her own body. The state contended that an act of abortion was the same as murder. It was therefore in the state’s interest to protect the life of unborn children.

The Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting abortion were, in fact, a violation of a woman’s right to privacy. It was one of the biggest victories by civil rights lawyers. This decision opened the door for women across the nation to receive abortions. Despite this decision, abortion is still hotly debated, even today.

Civil Rights Lawyers Change Lives

These are just a few of the many groundbreaking court cases that relied on expert civil rights lawyers to change longstanding legal doctrines. They led to the creation of new laws and constitutional amendments that now protect every citizen’s rights.

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Gender Discrimination: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

gender discrimination-employeerightslawgroup.comMany aspects of employment law operate in a gray area. While there are a great many regulations in place to protect workers against some kinds of workplace discrimination, there is less of a track record to go by in other areas. Pregnancy in the workplace is one of those areas where labor law attorneys are making great strides in safeguarding employee rights that are not fully understood by the general public.

Pregnancy Discrimination Was Outlawed In 1978

The importance of women in the workplace has changed enormously over the last 75 years. While gender discrimination is still common, the rules are now understood and there is a lot of case law that covers problems like equal pay for equal work, sexual harassment, and other workplace harassment.

Issues that arise from pregnancy in the workplace are a little less settled. Labor law attorneys are now hearing from more pregnant and nursing women who feel they’ve been treated badly by their employers. The increase in the total number of working women has resulted in an increase in the total number of pregnant and nursing workers. That in turn has led to disagreements between labor and management over what is and isn’t required to accommodate pregnant and nursing women in different types of jobs.

Because these disagreements are in the news frequently, it is easy to forget that pregnancy discrimination was outlawed all the way back in 1978 by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. This act also traces its roots back to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The purpose of the acts was to first make sure that a pregnant woman was allowed to work under the same conditions as any other employee, and if they later became unable to work, they would be treated the same as a worker who was unable to work for any other reason.

Additional Guidance Was Offered in 2014

The problem of gender discrimination due to pregnancy didn’t go away after the passage of this important legislature. Pregnant women and civil rights lawyers had to keep pressure on many employers who used any pretext to fire or otherwise treat pregnant workers differently than other workers. In many cases, conflicts over a hostile work environment eventually led to workplace retaliation when pregnant workers demanded their rights.

In order to make it easier for pregnant women and employers to better understand the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offered further guidance in 2014.  The Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues has a detailed overview of the meaning of the applicable laws, and a long list of case studies that illustrate different situations that might arise due to pregnancy in the workplace. The document makes it much easier for women who are having difficulties with gender discrimination in the workplace to know their rights. It also makes it easier for employers to understand what is required to comply with the law.

Complication of Pregnancy May Come Under ADA Rules

Most pregnant women can work without limitations until shortly before the birth of their child. Others are not so lucky, and suffer from complications that make it impossible for them to fulfill their duties without some form of accommodation from their employer.

Many employers don’t understand that when a pregnant employee has a serious complication like preeclampsia, their workplace rights begin to be covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act. Like any other worker, a pregnant woman must be offered reasonable workplace accommodations for their temporary disability. This is an important detail for a disability discrimination attorney to keep in mind when advising their clients.

Breastfeeding Must Be Accommodated, Too

Another poorly understood part of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is the period of time directly after the birth of a child. Nursing mothers must be given reasonable workplace accommodations under the act. In the modern workplace, this commonly takes the form of allowing a time and place for working mothers to pump breast milk throughout the day.

Parental Leave Policies May Apply to Men, Too

Gender discrimination in the workplace is a two-way street. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act also has important safeguards for men. If a company offers substantial amounts of pregnancy leave for women, it must also match that amount for men who have recently become parents. This situation only applies if the pregnancy leave lasts for substantially longer than the period of time that’s required to recover from childbirth.

If You’re Not Sure of Your Rights, Seek Advice

Pregnancy in the workplace can lead to a complex mix of gender discrimination, a hostile work environment, wrongful termination, or whistleblower retaliation. As you can see, several laws can apply depending on your personal circumstances. While it’s important to know as much about your rights as possible, it’s smart to consult civil rights attorneys that fully understand all the technicalities that govern pregnancy if there’s a dispute in the workplace.

Supreme Court of the United States

Employee Rights Rumble at the Supreme Court

employee rights case at the Supreme Court of the United StatesMany might think the need for employment law attorneys has diminished as labor operations become more transparent in the digital age, however, the need for protecting workers continues. On January 11th, the Supreme Court will be hearing a case brought by teachers in California. At issue is the requirement that public-sector workers pay union fees—whether they join a union or not. This practice has been in play for a long time. The thinking behind it is that even if public-sector workers don’t join their respective unions, they receive many of the benefits the unions work for, like pay raises and job protection.

Unions are generally recognized as pro-labor, and often represented as speaking for skilled laborers like electricians and carpenters, as well as public-sector workers like teachers and social workers. Most of the recent news we hear about unions concerns workers’ attempts to unionize in places such as Whole Foods and Walmart. Unions aim to guarantee fair pay for their members through collective bargaining, but does mandating fees for public-sector workers help their cause?

Ten teachers from California are fighting to stop paying union fees, arguing that the previous case allowing mandatory union fees, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will decide whether it is indeed constitutional to force public-sector workers to pay union fees, especially if the workers don’t agree with their unions or don’t feel as if their unions are working for them. Their findings could affect laws in up to 25 states that require public-sector workers to pay union fees.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could have many repercussions for labor unions. The Supreme Court decision may affect how unions work in the future, curtailing their effectiveness as collective bargainers, as well as diminishing their operating budgets. While employers cannot stop employees from unionizing, many demonize unions. Combined with the negative media attention unions tend to garner, this case could serve to harm ongoing unionization efforts in the service sector while reducing the purview of public-sector unions.

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s June decision, what should be front and center throughout this case is the importance of protecting the rights of workers, whether they’re unionized or not. It is important that non-unionized workers educate themselves about their rights as employees and know when they should hire an employment law attorney to help them. Unionized workers are generally assisted with this process, but not always. For those unsure of their rights, the California State Bar offers some information regarding employee rights. However, it is always a good idea to consult with a qualified LA employment law attorney to discuss the merits of your case.

Many employee rights cases often focus around discrimination, sexual harassment, or unpaid wages, but labor law extends much further. With the increase of the on-demand labor force, the integration of the internet, and the mobilization of more unions, labor law will need to continue to evolve to meet the needs of the changing workforce. An LA employee rights attorney might even say this is an exciting time to be practicing labor law and helping to protect workers!

Judgments & settlements for labor cases

Show Me the Money: Settlement & Judgment Payments

 employment law attorney for labor casesWhen people get involved in law suits, they are often thinking of monetary compensation as an end result, but they may need someone like an employment law attorney to explain to them the various possible results. Most people may not be aware of the differences between settlements and judgments, or that “winning the case” may not be the end of getting satisfaction for their suit. Making sure the payments are actually made could become a whole new battle for the attorneys.

Settlements

When a civil case is brought to a conclusion with monetary assessments made against the one of the parties, it comes about either by a settlement or a judgment. When a legal suit is resolved by negotiation rather than by a trial, the resolution is called a “settlement.” A settlement is an arrangement of a financial or insurance nature, made either in a lump sum or according to a schedule the parties agree to. An employee rights lawyer would be the one to negotiate on behalf of an employee plaintiff, and would follow the client’s instructions on what conditions would be acceptable.

Judgments

Judgments, however, are the result of a trial, either before a jury or a judge alone. The fiscal aspect of the ruling may be determined by the jury or judge.  A labor attorney who is filing on behalf of an employee fighting discrimination of some sort will certainly fight hard at a trial to make sure the employee is best served. In addition to making sure that the employee receives such things as unpaid wages, withheld benefits and other items due the employee, the attorney will argue for additional monetary awards for the client. The jury or judge will make the determination of what will be awarded in the judgment.

An Employment Law Attorney Can Get the Money to Move

The one thing that many people don’t consider is what happens after the case is decided, whether by agreed settlement or trial judgment: getting the money to the proper recipient. Labor law attorneys know that the loser of the case does not always deliver the payments they have been ordered to pay. Once an assessment has been made against one party in the suit, their debt becomes listed in credit reports. That may not be motivation enough in some circumstances. Other options for gaining payment include confiscation of property, so long as it does not infringe on the basic living circumstances of the loser of the case.

It is a frustrating thing about “winning” a suit: there may be an on-going battle to make sure that the settlement or judgment does get paid out in full.

Shoved Out the Door: Wrongful Termination

employee-rights--law-wrongful-terminationMany employees get caught up in worrying about possible job loss for various reasons, or possible workplace retaliation if they have blown the whistle on an occurrence of wrong-doing in the company. It’s certainly a distressing thing to lose your job. When the cause for the job loss seems inexplicable, it may be time foe you to consult an employment attorney.

The End of a Job

Any time someone leaves a job other than voluntarily, there will be questions as to why the employee has been let go. There are a number of causes that can justify an employee’s termination, but there are a number of causes that do not fit that bill. There are some cases were an employer may fire someone for what are basically illegal reasons. This is what is called “wrongful termination.”

Wrongful Termination

Although most employment conditions give the employer the right to terminate a worker’s employment “at will”, there are some reasons that are inappropriate. A specific job loss may need to be evaluated on an individual basis, but there are certain elements that can indicate that the termination was wrong.

Situations that constitute wrongful termination include

  • Termination contrary to a specific law or regulation
  • For exposing a company practice of withholding earned commissions and accrued vacation pay
  • For taking time off to complete jury duty
  • Taking time off to vote
  • For serving in the National Guard or military
  • For blowing the whistle to authorities about company activities that are harmful to the public
  • Discrimination for race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, pregnancy
  • Retaliation

.Any of these causes for termination would be considered wrongful. An employment attorney can help clarify if a terminated employee has cause for protesting.

Protesting a Dismissal

If you or anyone you know has endured what you believe to be a wrongful termination, seek the advice of an employment lawyer. Have detailed notes and records (if possible) of actions and communications from supervisors and other members of management that you have received. It’s possible that you may have cause to contest the termination of your employment. It is worth it to take a stand when you believe you have been wrongfully let go.

Whistleblower at a keyboard

The Laws of Whistleblowing

whistleblowingWhen a southern California employee sees dubious behavior in their workplace and they want to do something about it, a Los Angeles employment attorney can advise them about their options. There are many factors about being a whistleblower that can create a lot of uncertainty for anyone.  What are the consequences of blowing a whistle?

What is a Whistleblower?

We hear the word used a lot, but what really is a whistleblower? They are workers who refuse to engage in illegal behaviors or activities on the job.  The misconduct that such a worker might report can belong to several different types of behavior.

  • Violations of laws, rules or regulations
  • Direct threats to the public interest
  • Health and safety violations
  • Corruption
  • Fraud

The whistleblower could report their observations and allegations internally within the organization, or externally to law enforcement agencies, to regulators, or to the media. The point is that they want to expose wrong-doing within their work environment. Illegal conduct left to exist within a work situation can only undermine the quality of the work and general productivity.

The term itself comes from sports where the referees make judgement calls of plays on the field. They blow the whistle to let the players know that an play has been fouled or illegally made. In the early 1970s, activist Ralph Nader applied it to those who speak up, because the usual terms of “informer” and “snitch” had such negative connotations. He wanted to encourage those who were inclined to expose wrong-doing to come forward.

Fears of Retaliation

Many whistleblowers encounter reprisals for taking action. The reprisals might come from members of the organization that the whistleblower is reporting, or from a related organization. These reasonable fears hold some people back from speaking up about wrong-doing they spot in the work place. The more that people are aware of the protections available to whistleblowers, the more they are likely to speak up when they can.

Areas of Protection

In the federal government, OSHA has a  Whistleblower Protection Program which enforces the provisions of over twenty different statutes that protect workers who choose to expose a whole range of possible violations.

  • Workplace health and safety issues
  • Transportation concerns, including airlines, commercial motor carriers, motor vehicle safety, public transportation agencies, railroads, maritime issues,
  • Consumer products
  • Environmental issues
  • Financial reforms and securities laws
  • Food safety
  • Health insurance reforms
  • Energy issues, including nuclear issues and pipelines

Under the various whistleblower protection laws, workers’ rights are covered securing participation in health and safety activities, reporting work-related injuries, illnesses or fatalities, or reporting violations of the statues.  The protection regulations are intended to shelter the whistleblower from retaliation by superiors and employers for their choice to step forward.

Taking Your Stand

If you find yourself trying to decide whether to come forward about activity in your workplace that you believe is hazardous or illegal, seek out the advice of an employment attorney. A lawyer who specializes in this area can inform you of what you need to do, how quickly you need to file any report, what aspects of your status are protected by the law. Do not feel that you have to face the situation alone.

Discrimination doesn't treat people with equality

Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination

Discrimination lawyers in Los Angeles are well aware of the ongoing battle against discrimination. Simply put, discrimination is an action, based on prejudice, which seeks to deny human rights or social participation to certain categories of people.  Eventually, discrimination leads to the exclusion of the individual or entities.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was set into place to help combat discrimination. According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer … to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects in all areas of the employment:

  • Compensation, assignment, or classification of employees
  • Hiring and firing
  • Job advertisements
  • Fringe benefits
  • Testing
  • Use of company facilities
  • Transfer, promotion, layoff, or recall
  • Training and apprenticeship programs
  • Pay, retirement plans, and disability leave
  • Recruitment
  • Other terms and conditions of employment

Discrimination is still very much alive and has a large effect on gender and race in the workplace. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law it applies to employers with 15 or more employees, this includes federal, state, and local governments. It is also applicable to public and private colleges and universities, labor organization, and employment agencies.

Take Action Fight for Rights

If you have experienced discrimination then you have the right to file a Title VII claim. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a federal agency and is ready to enforce many of the anti-discrimination laws. Take action don’t wait to file your claim. You have 180 days from the day the incident occurred to file your claim. Free resources are available to help you file your claim. The EEOC website is available and can offer you instructions on the procedures necessary to help file your claim.

Benefits to Hiring an Attorney

Generally, discrimination law is based on civil rights, and will be processed through that lens. The circumstances of the offense will dictate the amount of compensation the plaintiff will receive. In many situations victims of discrimination encounter unlawful termination, biased promotion, or blatant unequal pay. You are entitled to receive compensation for such acts of injustice. Additionally, those who suffer emotional damage may be entitled to additional compensation. Overall, an attorney can help you receive the maximum amount of compensation. They are experienced and are here to help you succeed. You don’t have to fight this alone, The Employees Rights Law Group is here to fight for you.

Employees have rights

Employment Law Basics

employment lawMost people in Los Angeles don’t think about the basics of employment law. They go to their jobs every day, do their work, and then go home to their private lives. They don’t worry about legal matters connected to their position as an employee and what might concern their employer. Then there comes a day when something goes wrong at work, where the relationship between the worker and the boss or the company gets disrupted. What are you to do in such a situation? Do you even know what to ask a Los Angeles employment attorney?

What Is Employment Law?

Employment law, also called labor law addresses matters in the relationship between employers, workers, unions and the government. It can involve mediation of disputes or representation of one side or the other in cases of major disagreement. Often, individual employees need legal assistance in securing rights or proper wages from their employers, or in dealing with various types of harassment in the work place.

Types of Legal Concerns

There are many types of legal issues that can call for the need of an employment law attorney.

  • Wage and hours issues
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Discrimination of any sort
  • Wrongful termination or dismissal
  • Working conditions

Any of these issues could at some point require a worker or an employer to need the help of an attorney who knows all the ins-and-outs of laws related to work matters. Lawyers tend to specialize their practices in particular types of law. So when someone is in need of legal assistance over a work matter, they need to seek the advice of an employment attorney.

Advantages of a Legal Advocate

When you turn to an attorney when major employment conflicts arise, you gain the advantage of their knowledge and expertise. A lawyer will know of more issues that could apply to your situation than you would be aware of. An attorney is far more likely to know the flaws and weaknesses of certain regulations than the ordinary worker would. An advocate who will fight for the best benefit of his or her client is the sort that anyone in a distressing dispute would want.

There are so many things that can go wrong in work situations, and workers need to be aware of them and of the possibilities available to make them better. Disputes could arise over withheld wages, or the employee being required to work extra hours without proper compensation. An attorney would know which legal precedents would apply to the situation. Perhaps the work environment has become unsafe for some reason, and the employees have not been able to get management to address the matter. An attorney can help them secure a remedy to the situation. If a worker feels they are the victim of illegal discrimination, a lawyer can challenge the action. Harassment or wrongful termination are situations that a legal advocate can help bring to satisfactory resolutions.

Know your rightsKnow Your Rights

The government Department of Labor has general information about the laws that apply to various situations. Anyone with an employment dispute can check that website for the basics that might apply to their situation. But to know the how the details of various laws might apply to your situation, you ought to consult with an attorney who specializes in these matters.

Each situation may have unique details that affect the legal aspects of a conflict. An attorney is the person who can determine what is pertinent to a solution. When an ordinary worker goes hunting information on the internet for advice, they can very easily go astray in the forest of information. When it comes to legal matters, anyone needing help should always consult an actual lawyer. Doing that can save them time and energy, and prevent them from focusing on things that will not help them.

If you are in need of a Los Angeles employment lawyer, turn to Cathe Caraway-Howard. She has devoted her career to employment law, and proudly considers her motto to be “Fighting for the little guy!