The end of 2014 saw significant developments in U.S. anti-corruption efforts, including record fines, challenges to the government's interpretation of the law and the launch of new tools to help companies prevent bribery and corruption.
Facing criticism for its predominately white, male workforce, Intel is the latest tech company to make big moves to increase workplace diversity, announcing it has allotted $300 million to increase the number of women and minorities in its workforce by 2020. Intel's CEO, Brian Krzanich, stated the company's goals include a better representation of the U.S. population by placing women and under-represented minorities in both entry-level positions and senior leadership roles.
According to a memo released by Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will now interpret federal law — specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — to prohibit workplace harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender status.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will rule on the legality of same-sex marriage and issue what is expected to be a historic decision with a widespread impact on American culture. Consolidating appeals from four separate states, the Court narrowed its inquiry to two issues: does the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process forbid states from restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, and can states refuse to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states?
Following the release of Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the international watchdog group urges greater international cooperation to stem corruption and abuses of power that undermine economic development and destroy public trust in government and leaders.
A recent Pew Research study found 40% of adult internet users have experienced online harassment. Given that 66% of online harassment occurs on social networking websites, it is significant that Twitter has decided to take steps to protect its users from harassment with changes aimed at not only making it easier for victims to report harassment, but to block those who participate in such behavior.
A nationwide media company is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit claiming the "adult frat house" culture of its southern California office contributed to multiple instances of sexual harassment by male employees against female coworkers. Shortly thereafter, the company announced the termination of an employee based on misconduct revealed by an internal investigation, while defending its commitment to a safe and comfortable work environment.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a notice revealing a whistleblower's identity to other employees can be considered a "materially adverse" action and violates the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). The court upheld an award of $30,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress and reputational harm previously issued by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Administrative Review Board (ARB).
Edith Ramirez, head of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), recently defended antitrust enforcement efforts in the healthcare industry against claims that such regulation undermines efforts to contain costs through provider collaboration and contradicts the goals the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Her article in the New England Journal of Medicine claims that antitrust enforcement is essential to support the goals of the ACA and the overall function of the healthcare market.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced it will soon issue guidance on EEOC compliance when encouraging employees to participate in employer-sponsored wellness programs. The guidance — to be released next month — is expected to address both the relationship between federal health care laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with respect to incentive-based wellness programs, as well as the meaning of "voluntary" under the ADA.