Transparency International recently released the 2011 Bribe Payers Index, which ranked 28 of the world’s biggest economies based on the likelihood that companies based in those countries will use bribes when conducting business abroad. The survey scored each country on a scale of zero to 10, with zero representing companies that "always" engage in bribery and 10 representing companies that "never" offer bribes. The results are based on the views of more than 3,000 business executives who answered questions about countries they had dealt with over the past year. The executives were asked three questions: (1) how often companies engaged in bribery of low-level public officials; (2) how often companies used improper contributions to achieve influence with high-ranking politicians or political parties; and (3) how often companies paid or received bribes from private firms. The average score from these questions determined the ranking of each country.
A United States security firm, Mandiant Corp., recently released a report linking China’s military to a hacking ring that stole massive amounts of information from roughly 141 U.S. and foreign entities, including military contractors, government agencies, law firms and corporations. Mandiant traced the attacks to a building in Shanghai run by a Chinese military unit, but China has vehemently denied the report’s findings.
The Obama administration has made combating healthcare fraud a priority, encouraging employees with knowledge of such fraud within their organizations ("whistleblowers") to come forward and opening a record number of new healthcare fraud cases. In 2011, the federal government broke all records, bringing in nearly $2.3 billion in whistleblower settlements and judgments and prosecuting 417 whistleblower cases, compared with 231 in 2008.
American businesses spend $5 to $6 million per year on workplace bullying, according to the Bureau of National Affairs. According to a recent survey, 37% of Americans report being bullied at work (an estimated 54 million workers); an additional 15% witness it and vicariously are made miserable.
Workplace bullying is not simple rudeness or the routine exercise of managerial prerogative. Rather, it's the repeated mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators. It can take one or more of the following forms:
The number of insurance claims believed to be fraudulent hit a record high in 2012, according to a report compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) from information reported by its member companies. Insurance companies that are members of the NICB write a majority of the property/casualty and personal automobile insurance policies in the United States. In 2012, the companies referred 116,268 questionable claims, each with one or more indicators of possible fraud, to the NICB for further investigation. That's an increase of 26.7% in questionable claims in just two years — up from 91,797 in 2010 and 100,450 in 2011.
On January 17, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") issued a final rule ("Omnibus Rule") that affects multiple aspects of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"). The Omnibus Rule expands privacy, security, enforcement standards and breach-notification requirements, and it implements several changes to the law made by the HITECH Act of 2009.
Violating OSHA's standards for lockout/tagout procedures can be an expensive mistake. These procedures, used to control hazardous energy, prevent injury or death to employees that could be caused by the machines restarting or releasing energy while the employees are still working on them. On OSHA's list of violations for which it assessed the highest penalties in fiscal year 2012, lockout/tagout violations in general industry came in third, surpassed only by penalties for violations of fall protection and scaffolding requirements on construction sites.
Discrimination against the unemployed seems to be a growing trend nationwide as employers find ways to exclude them from their applicant pools. Some employers post job advertisements explicitly stating that only currently employed candidates will be considered. The reasons for doing so range from uncertainty as to the reason for a candidate’s unemployed status (e.g., downsizing versus poor performance) to the belief that an employed person would adjust more quickly to a new job and will perform better. Current high rates of unemployment may be raising employers' fears that unemployed applicants are not properly motivated and would leave the job as soon as something better comes along. However, using employment status as the sole predictor of potential job performance is likely to be ineffective.
Valentine's Day offers the perfect occasion to reflect on romance, which can bloom anytime, anywhere — even in the workplace. Relationships between co-workers are bound to occur. These relationships, however, can result in serious liability for employers. If a relationship ends and the involved employees must continue working together, the risk of sexual–harassment claims may increase. Even if they wanted to, employers probably could not completely prevent office romances. They can, however, reduce their risk of liability stemming from these romances by practicing the following tips:
Technology increases efficiency and productivity by allowing instant access and transfer of electronic data. And yet, unlike its physical counterpart, electronic data is vulnerable to attack from anywhere in the world. As the use of social media, cloud computing and mobile-device technology increases, so does the level of related security threats. Consequently, businesses are constantly threatened with cybercrime, privacy breaches, theft of intellectual property and business interruption, all of which compromise competitiveness and productivity.