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Ask Our Lawyer - July 2005

A Message From John Anderson –
A Reminder that you should never think it won't happen to you.

John Anderson is a great American. He served in Vietnam with the 82nd Airborne. He put in his 20 years with the U.S. Army, and retired into a high paying dream job making more money than Davy Crockett. He bought the Harley of his dreams. Now his dreams are gone. Gone is the high paying job; gone is the perfect Harley; gone was his good health and dreams for travel.

What Happened, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. John, a long time member of A.B.A.T.E., was traveling toward I-74 when a young driver did a rolling stop – you know, the kind invented in California. This driver kept right on rolling into John and his new Harley, pulling his brand new Bunkhouse Trailer. That is the last John remembers before waking up in the hospital.

Now for the sad financial part. The California rolling-stop driver had no insurance. And John, as smart as he is, only had minimum uninsured coverage, i.e. $25k. As we all know, that might get us a week in the hospital – if we didn't have to pay the doctors. I asked John – why did you only have the minimum limits? Here is the answer he wants me to share with you “I did not think it was going to happen to me.” He had a perfect driving record. So to save a few bucks, he cut the coverage to the bare minimums. His message to you now? Get as much uninsured-underinsured coverage as you can afford!

I promised John we would spread his message to others. We have in the past, and we will continue to do so until we no longer get the calls from good people like John who ask, "Rod, what can you do for me in this situation?" And I want to be able to give back more than sympathy.

AFTERMATH – John is healing, and because of his military career, the medical bills are paid. He has the wrecked Harley and is restoring it like new. The wonderful job is gone, but John is still here. He will be at the STATE PARTY this year – a wiser and luckier man. We thank John for allowing his story to be shared. Just maybe one of us will read this lesson and benefit from John's life experience.

Miracle Ride 2005- Another 250k for the Children's Hospital Thank You, Bob and Tom and the Wonderful A.B.A.T.E. Volunteers

It was A.B.A.T.E. LEGAL and its staff that started the MIRACLE RIDE back in 1994. It is the many volunteers from A.B.A.T.E. that keep it going.
Of course, the event would not be complete without the organizational genius of Mike and Debbie Farabaugh. Kim and Dennis Tyger seemed to be everywhere.
De and Bob Dillon are irreplaceable. When I returned to the staging area after the ride and when most others were feeding their faces, De and Bob were the last to leave - to go home and collapse, as De put it. And there is Kathy Schulteti, of the famous Southside Harley-Davidson family. Kathy and her family have been leaders in motorcycling since the beginning, and Kathy's contribution to Riley is beyond counting. If there is a heart in the Miracle Ride, Kathy and Sandy are the heart. Sandy Hunt works with Kathy and Southside and without their contribution, the Miracle Ride would not function. Rick Chupp and his crew at Cycle Outfitters are there for Riley year after year. We could not do without him. Gino Johnson, the world's best CPA, [he does not like me to say this, but he is a former IRS AGENT] was our money counter and is one of the hospital's best friends. Parking, parking, parking and Cindy and James Underwood do that thankless job to perfection along with Dave and Suzie Lewis. Of course, where would we be without J.C.
and Joe Weaver. Joe is working hard to take care of me on the far side of the Pearly Gates - a hopeless job. And God bless Marc Falsetti for all that he has done since we began. I know this, if he or his ever needs anything from Riley Hospital, he will go right to the head of the line.

There were 7,000 bikers on the ride, fabulous poker runs, a concert, an auction, a picnic and a host of other events. The ride has become an event we could not have imagined when a small band of dedicated volunteers got together 12 years ago. So many people volunteered their time, talent and treasure that it is impossible to name them all, but I will try to name them in future articles as space permits. In the mix of all of the sounds and excitement of the weekend one thing struck me as we left the parking lot for the ride. The last person we saw directing traffic and sending the riders on their way was A.B.A.T.E. of Indiana Executive Director Jay Jackson. At the end of the road, as we left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and crossed 16th Street for the picnic, the first person we saw directing traffic and greeting riders was . . . Jay Jackson. Small miracles indeed.

Greg "Sidecar" Wagner, A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois State Coordinator and his wife B.J. were up front with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi. Sidecar Wagner observed that in Indiana, "your Governor rides with you, in Illinois, we have to sue ours."

A.B.A.T.E. of ILLINOIS just recently filed a class action on behalf of all Illinois motorcyclists against the Governor of Illinois and other state officials for taking motorcycle funds away from motorcycle safety training and off-road programs.] Thanks to everyone who helped make this year's Miracle Ride such a success.

A.B.A.T.E. LEGAL -- Why An Airshow Started by bikers???

A.B.A.T.E. LEGAL and its staff of bikers started the INDIANAPOLIS AIR SHOW back in 1997. Of course, Mike and Debbie Farabaugh were there for that, too. Why an airshow? I believe it is one of the most patriotic events there is short of actually serving your country in the military. This year the UNITED STATES NAVY’S BLUE ANGELS will perform their magic. Those F-18 Hornets are unbelievable. This year we will be honoring several midwest war heroes from WW2. You also have to see Jimmy Franklin fly the HARLEY OF THE SKY, a 1934 WACO bi-plane with a jet engine strapped to the bottom. If you can work on a pan or shovel head engine, you can work on the engine in that WACO. He has a wing-walker for his act. Most guys talk in terms of ex-wives – not Jimmy Franklin. He talks in terms of ex-wing walkers. Something sadistic in me would like to be able to say that, too. Come join us the last weekend in August for the most patriotic event this summer and honor the troops that serve this county.

The Indianapolis Air Show is one of the largest in the country, expecting to host 100,000 visitors during the two day event. All proceeds from the show go to benefit the Riley Hospital for Children. Over 50 vendors, 100 antique cars, 175 airplanes and hands-on aviation exhibits are planned for this event. Discount tickets are available now through the website at www.indyairshow.com. Come and join the fun!

Q: I ride my motorcycle to work on a regular basis. Sometimes, I am required to travel between jobsites during the course of a day. My employer has recently told me that he doesn’t want me to ride my motorcycle to work anymore because he doesn’t want me to ride it back and forth between jobsites during the day. Can he do that? Also, I have heard about people who have been fired from their job or not hired because they ride motorcycles. Is that legal?

A: In most states that observe the “at will” employment doctrine, an employer is allowed to set the job conditions for an employee and not hire or terminate employees for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as long as those reasons do not involve discrimination against a protected class. In most states, protected classes include race, sex, religion, country of origin and disability. In most states, if an employer wanted to restrict an employee from riding his motorcycle during work hours on work business then it’s most likely they may be able to get away with it under the employment at will doctrine – for now! A.B.A.T.E. LEGAL is looking for the ideal case to challenge this discrimination. What if a motorcycle is your only means of transportation?

Whether an employer could fire an employee who admitted to being a motorcycle rider or engaged in any other legal activity is a question that is being addressed in a number of states. Recently, employers have been taking a closer look at the off duty habits and activities of their employees in an effort to allegedly reduce health insurance costs. We believe we are sticking their noses into other people’s business/lives. The most common victims of this type of scrutiny into our personal lives are smokers and people who are overweight. Also, people who engage in activities that have been labeled “high risk,” such as motorcycling, snowmobiling, kayaking or other such activities have been known to be subject to such scrutiny as well. [We challenge the labeling of motorcycling as “high risk” for those who ride as we are taught by A.B.A.T.E.] While its most common for smokers to be subject to this sort of review, some employers refuse to hire people who drink alcohol or have high cholesterol levels or who ride motorcycles.

None of these activities are specifically protected under Federal civil rights laws as they are currently drafted. This type of discrimination has commonly been called “lifestyle discrimination” and has been the subject of increasing activity in state legislatures in recent years. A number of states have begun enacting statutes that address the effects of lifestyle discrimination by employers. To date, two states, Colorado and North Dakota, have statutes forbidding employers from discriminating against employees who are engaged in lawful activities while off duty, and I say AMEN to that. I am just waiting for the day when they try to pull something on us “bald and bearded” types. Other states, such as Nevada and Illinois, have laws that prohibit discrimination against employees who during their off duty hours use legal products such as alcohol or tobacco. A number of other states, including Indiana, prevent discrimination against smokers. Although these protections don’t extend to employees during their on-the-job activities, they do protect employees from being scrutinized for their off duty activities. What’s next? Food marshals at McDonalds? Proctors who watch for that extra scoop of ice cream on your pie, or the second piece of chocolate cake? This type of discrimination, if permitted, will destroy the fabric of American life. It must be stopped.

Ride Safe and Free,
Rod Taylor
A.B.A.T.E. LEGAL Services

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: ASK OUR LAWYER, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com.


Next month, we will deal with a question that has been coming up with more and more regularity - can an employer forbid an employee from riding a motorcycle between job sites while the worker is on the clock? Also, can an employer prohibit an employee from riding a motorcycle to work? Check back next month for some thoughts on those questions.

Ride Safe and Free,

Rod Taylor

A.B.A.T.E. LEGAL Services

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: ASK OUR LAWYER, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206_2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com.