The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently held what it called an “unprecedented” public meeting to gather views on what its priorities should be over the next three years. Participants included representatives of employers, employees and advocacy groups discussing private and government employment.
Federal, state and local law enforcement agents and investigators are working together to crack down on fraud in government healthcare programs. An investigation by the FBI’s Health Care Fraud Task Force led to the recent arrest of dozens of people allegedly involved in a plot to buy prescription drugs from Medicaid recipients and sell them at a much higher price to pharmacies.
Locating an employee who has seasonal affective disorder near exterior windows can be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a federal court.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently posted on its website the protocol it is using for its Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance audits. A report by the Ropes & Gray LLP law firm recommends that covered entities and business associates use the information in the protocols to review their current practices.
When subsidiary companies bribe foreign officials, their parent companies may have to pay millions of dollars in penalties and fines to the Justice Department (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), even if the parent companies didn’t know about the bribery at the time it was taking place. That’s what happened recently to Orthofix, a Texas-based orthopedic medical device company. The DOJ and the SEC alleged that Promeca, a Mexico City-based wholly owned subsidiary of Orthofix, paid more than $300,000 in bribes, which it code-named “chocolates,” to Mexican officials. Orthofix was charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Exchange Act. It agreed to pay $2.2 million to the DOJ to defer prosecution and $5.2 million to the SEC in penalties and interest.
A new study on workplace bullying offered a startling finding: Employees who witness bullying in their work units are even more likely to want to quit their jobs than the employees who are the bullies’ direct victims. This finding shows that the damage bullies do to morale in an organization may be even more pervasive and more costly than previously thought. Employers need to be aware that bullying can have a “mushrooming effect that goes well beyond the victims” and that “bullies can hurt the bottom line,” the study’s co-author said.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently launched a website aimed at educating nonunion workers about their rights to engage in concerted activities – that is, their rights to act together for mutual aid and protection. Although only about 5% of the NLRB’s recent caseload involved nonunion concerted activity, the Board is “actively seeking new cases as a means to educate employees about their rights and the availability of the Board's processes to remedy violations,” according to an analysis from Duane Morris, LLP.
Vermont recently became the eighth state to restrict the use of credit checks in employment, following California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington. More than a dozen additional states and the District of Columbia are considering similar legislation. Observers expect the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to issue new guidance on the matter.
Charges of discrimination can be enormously expensive, even if a lawsuit never goes to trial. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently settled a racial-harassment and discrimination case against a Fortune 500 transportation company for $11 million. The settlement will benefit as many as 324 African Americans who worked at one of the company’s Chicago-area facilities from 2004 to 2009. The EEOC is pointing to the case as “further indication that the EEOC has the resources and determination necessary to litigate large class actions.” The EEOC also settled a similar case against the company two years ago for $10 million, bringing the total the company has had to pay for alleged racial harassment and discrimination at two of its Chicago-area facilities to $21 million.
While looking at job applicants’ publicly available information on Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts has become a common, though risky, practice, some employers have gone further by requesting the passwords for the social-media accounts of applicants and/or current employees, a controversial practice that Facebook recently condemned. Now, legislators are pushing back. Maryland already has a law, which will go into effect on October 1, 2012, that prohibits employers from requesting or requiring access to employees’ and applicants’ accounts. The federal government and more than a dozen states are considering similar legislation.