Legislators are increasingly taking notice of the fact that bullying in the workplace is a growing problem in America. In the Society for Human Resources Management’s 2011 survey, 51% of surveyed employers reported incidents of bullying in the workplace. While civil rights laws protect employees who are abused based on their membership in a protected class — race, nationality or religion — there are currently no laws that protect against simple brutality. Efforts to rectify this on the state level continue. Earlier this year Massachusetts and Pennsylvania became the latest states to propose legislation prohibiting workplace bullying.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and disability. Those who consider themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), however, are not protected from discrimination in 29 states or under federal law. If signed into law, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), recently approved by the Senate, would change that by extending Title VII civil-rights protections to cover sexual orientation.
The Shadow, a noted 1930s radio show, asked “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” A slightly different question — Who knows what patient information lurks in the hearts of medical databases? — drives recent lawsuits brought under California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA).
Whether intentionally or not, executives and management who fail to establish the appropriate “tone at the top” are exposing their companies to a heightened risk of fraud and unethical employee behaviors. An organization’s tone at the top permeates the entire organization as executives and management set the bar for how their employees should behave in the workplace. Consequently, establishing a good tone is considered crucial for business success and is especially effective in preventing employee fraud and theft.
Nine Japan-based auto-parts companies and two executives have agreed to pay a total of more than $740 million in fines in connection with conspiracies to fix the prices of 30 different products sold to U.S. car manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced recently. The agreements are the latest and most significant developments in the largest criminal antitrust investigation in DOJ history.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) was adopted in 2004 by five major credit-card companies. It promotes consistent global security standards and protects cardholder data from fraud and security breaches. PCI-DSS applies to all merchants or service providers who store, process or transmit payment-card account numbers. Since the standard applies to anyone who processes credit-card information, even non-technical employees such as cashiers need to comply with it.
Worker misclassification — that is, when an employer improperly classifies a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee — is a major priority for the US Department of Labor (DOL). Recently, DOL indicated that it most often sees misclassifications of workers as independent contractors in certain industries and jobs, including janitorial, restaurant, delivery drivers, gas station attendants, nurse temps, security guards and cable installers. Worker misclassification implicates a broad range of laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, and a variety of agencies.
On August 30, 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the second award payment in its whistleblower program created under the Dodd-Frank Act three years ago. The $125,000 award will be split between three individuals who provided information that aided in thwarting the continued operation of a sham hedge fund operated by Andrey Hicks. While noteworthy as only the second award under its whistleblower program, the Hicks case also provides useful information as to how the program operates.
A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation has led to the agency's first Regulation FD enforcement action in two years. The action is against Lawrence Polizzotto, the former VP of Investor Relations for First Solar, Inc. (First Solar) for violations of Regulation FD and Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act. Regulation FD prohibits the selective disclosure of material nonpublic information to securities professionals without simultaneously — or in some cases, promptly — disclosing the same information to the public.
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner's (ACFE) 2012 Report to the Nations, employee theft and fraud costs a typical organization an estimated 5% of its revenues each year. The average fraud scheme goes undetected for 18 months, despite the existence of "red flag" behavior in 81% of the cases. Almost half of those victimized do not recover the losses suffered.