American businesses are doing a better job at fostering ethical workforces, according to a new survey conducted by the Ethics Resource Center. Results of the Center's National Business Ethics Survey show workplace misconduct is at a historic low and fewer employees feel pressured to compromise standards. At the same time, the survey reported that those at the managerial level commit the largest percentage of misconduct, and retaliation remains a strong deterrent to reporting misbehavior.
Nearly 34 million Americans diagnosed with cancer, diabetes or epilepsy, and over two million suffering from an intellectual disability are now protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Changes to the definition of a disability made by the 2008 ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) were reflected in four revised publications issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in May 2013. Given the limitations these diseases place on major life activities, the EEOC considers applicants and employees with these conditions to fall within the definition of a "disability" under the ADA.
In 2010, European regulators began investigating claims that Google abused its dominance in Internet search and advertising by favoring its own products and services in search results. Google powers 90 percent of searches in many European markets; its share in the United States is closer to 70 percent. After almost four years, regulators have finally reached a settlement with Google. However, given that Google's business model has reportedly changed drastically in the past few years, many believe the settlement will have little impact on the company's dominance of the market in Europe.
As anti-corruption efforts around the globe get more aggressive, more multi-national businesses are implementing best practices to ensure compliance with laws like the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Bribery Act. Local laws and cultures, however, often make compliance difficult and require proactive measures to stem inappropriate behavior by foreign subsidiaries and business partners.
Human-resource professionals will face significant challenges in the year ahead as they attempt to comply with various employment laws amid shifting demographics and societal trends. The year of 2013 saw the enactment of new laws and the rise of novel legal challenges that substantially altered the compliance landscape. With these changes in mind, the following represent the hot issues employers should focus on in 2014.
The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is launching an investigation into whether claims of corruption by a former Rolls-Royce employee have any merit. Among the allegations is the assertion that Rolls-Royce gave Tommy Suharto, the son of a former Indonesian dictator, $20 million and one of its automobiles in exchange for his help in convincing Garuda, the country’s flag-carrying airline, to buy the company’s aircraft engines. In a letter to the SFO, Mr. Suharto has denied receiving any bribes from Rolls-Royce.
The demise of mandatory retirement, low returns on fixed-income investments and a significant population over the age of 50 has led to more Canadians working past retirement age than ever before. A recent online poll found more than half — 57% — of mature workers wish to work later into life. Yet many find that employers are either unwilling or ill-prepared to retain their services.
Good employers often attempt to provide support for employees who are facing personal issues. Such was the case when Selena Hancock developed a nerve condition that prevented her from lifting more than 20 pounds. Although an essential function of Hancock's position as a medical assistant at the Washington Hospital Center (WHC) was triaging patients — preparing patients for physician examinations, escorting patients to the exam room, and taking and recording patients' information in their charts — WHC agreed to place her on modified duty and temporarily excused her from performing triage. Eventually, WHC required Hancock to return to full duty while she was still unable to perform triage and subsequently terminated her on the basis that she was unable to perform an essential function of her job.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continued aggressive enforcement of the healthcare industry in 2013. Officials employed a variety of tactics to secure compliance with federal healthcare laws, including the use of measures generally used to combat financial and organized crime. Charges — including Medicare fraud, securities fraud, violations of anti-corruption laws and money laundering — led to significant criminal fines and penalties, restitution and prison sentences, together with a number of multi-million dollar civil settlements and Corporate Integrity Agreements.
With the recent publication of Form SD, the disclosure form that all companies subject to the Conflict Minerals Rule must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it is a good time to brush up on the Rule’s compliance requirements. Here are seven things companies should do to help ensure their compliance with the Conflict Minerals Rule.