A federal court ordered Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to pay $25,000 to a former housekeeper fired for wearing her hair in cornrows. The court found that a Starwood hotel in Pennsylvania fired Carmelita Vazquez — who is black and Hispanic — under circumstances suggesting prohibited racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Giving holiday gifts is a common business practice. Companies need to be concerned, however, if employees give the wrong kind of gift — the kind that may be perceived as a bribe. The US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other anti-bribery laws make it a criminal offense to offer, promise or give "anything of value" — including gifts — to a foreign official to gain an improper business advantage.
The Department of Justice's aggressive enforcement efforts have already resulted in more than $1 billion in criminal antitrust fines for fiscal year 2013, much of that collected from corporations involved in price fixing and bid rigging in the auto-parts sector. It appears this momentum will continue, as DOJ's Antitrust Division recently announced it will collect $120 million in fines from Japan-based Toyo Tire & Rubber for its participation in price-fixing schemes related to automotive components in cars sold in the US and elsewhere.
Under some circumstances, the attorney work product doctrine prevents litigants forcing disclosure of tangible material, usually documents, that their opponents' attorneys prepared in anticipation of litigation. In US Bank Nat’l Assoc. v. PHL Variable Ins. Co., a federal court in Minnesota applied the doctrine to protect the identities of individuals interviewed during an internal investigation.
Transparency International recently released its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), highlighting the status of public sector corruption around the globe. According to the CPI, corruption continues to be a serious issue, leading researchers to call for efforts to crack down on money laundering and fraud, reform political financing and create greater transparency in public institutions.
After a photo of a Burger King sign reading "Now Hiring Must Be Mexican" went viral, Burger King received many angry comments on its Facebook page. Burger King blamed the sign on a disgruntled employee. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) used the occasion to launch a discussion of the pervasiveness of national-origin discrimination in the US.
A new study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University suggests that some employers may use social media to research and discriminate against job applicants. The study results suggest possible discrimination on the basis of applicants' religion, but not on the basis of sexual orientation. The researchers applied to over 4,000 online job openings using dummy résumés and created social-media profiles for each fictional applicant. The postings required either a graduate degree or several years of experience.
Speaking recently at the American Conference Institute’s 30th International Conference, US regulators highlighted the trend toward more vigorous international enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other anti-corruption laws. Representatives from both the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stated that more than 150 FCPA investigations are underway, noted new developments in cross-border cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to prosecuting individuals as well as corporate entities.
Workplace stress is the number one risk to employee health, according to a survey conducted by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health. Stress can significantly affect an individual's physical health and emotional well-being, harm workplace performance and hamper overall business performance. Yet even though employers understand the connection between stress and productivity, only 15% make improving the emotional/mental health of employees a top priority of their health and productivity programs.
In August 2013, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) adopted new rules intended to improve job opportunities for protected veterans and persons with disabilities.