In August 2012, the SEC approved a new rule known as the Conflict Minerals Rule. It requires companies to disclose the use of conflict minerals — gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum — that originate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or any country with an adjacent border. The purpose of the Rule is to encourage companies to strengthen their controls over how and where they obtain those minerals, thereby reducing the funding of armed groups responsible for extreme violence.
As horrific and unfortunate as it was, last December’s school shooting in Newtown, CT has brought about a significant increase in public awareness of mental-health and public-safety issues. These issues affect not just schools but extend into the workplace as well. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fact sheet, workplace violence ranges from verbal abuse, threats and intimidation to physical acts that may result in injuries or even death to the victims. Nearly two million reports of workplace violence are received each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 506 homicides in U.S. workplaces in 2010. Workplace violence can occur in any type of workplace and in any industry.
Earlier this month, several resident deans at Harvard University expressed concern over the University’s search of their e-mail accounts in connection with a cheating-scandal investigation. In response, Harvard University officials defended the searches as necessary to protect student rights to privacy and due process in the proceedings.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must make reasonable accommodations for an employee with an impairment or disability. Although compliance may seem an onerous task at first, employers can accommodate these employees successfully. The following are general tips for accommodating an employee with disabilities:
Are you feeling stressed out at work? If you answered yes, you are among the one-third of American workers who experience work stress on a regular basis, according to a recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA). This and numerous other studies have determined work to be the number-one stressor for Americans today. The reason? Too much work, not enough compensation, and an overall lack of growth opportunity, according to the APA study.
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.