Traditionally, unpaid and low-paid internships provided a way for students and recent graduates to get a foot in the door, especially in popular and competitive fields such as media. In exchange for working for little or no money, interns would learn more about their chosen fields and, most importantly, make contacts and get industry references that could help them launch their careers. In some industries, completing an internship was virtually mandatory to be considered for an entry-level job.
Employers that use pre-employment skills testing that has an adverse impact on minorities may be violating federal anti-discrimination laws if the employers cannot prove that the tests are related to job performance. A large food-processing company recently had to pay more than half a million dollars to settle a case involving this issue.
Laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity are part of a rapidly expanding frontier in anti-discrimination law. In July, Massachusetts joined 15 other states, Washington, D.C., and approximately 140 local governments in banning employment discrimination based on gender identity. Earlier this year, the EEOC ruled that gender-identity discrimination violated the sex-discrimination provisions of Title VII.
The state of California is ramping up its enforcement of consumer privacy laws with the creation of a new Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris recently announced the formation of the unit, which follows on the heels of an agreement among mobile and social media industry leaders to improve privacy safeguards on mobile devices and apps. California's Constitution guarantees its residents an inalienable right to privacy, and Harris is credited with forging the agreement, which strengthens privacy protections for not only California consumers, but global consumers who use apps developed by the six major players: Amazon, Apple, Google, HP, Microsoft and RIM.
It’s hot out there! The latest report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that temperatures in the U.S. from July 2011 through June 2012 were the highest ever since recordkeeping began 117 years ago. January through June 2012 was the hottest first half-year on record as well. Many workers, especially those who work outside and/or in physically demanding jobs, risk heat-related health problems. Proper environmental controls, work practices, equipment and training can all reduce or eliminate the risk.
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.