An employee of a Brooklyn, New York clothing store was awarded $4.7 million by a federal jury after being repeatedly bullied by a co-worker and ultimately physically attacked. The award was for assault, emotional distress, negligence in the employer's hiring of the bully and punitive damages.
While foreign bribery makes for sensational headlines, a Midwest egg company recently discovered why U.S. enforcement actions for domestic bribery have resulted in a sharp increase in corporate fines. The egg company agreed to pay a fine of about $6.8 million — and two top executives face an additional $100,000 fine and up to a year in jail — all stemming from a $300 cash bribe to a U.S. government official.
With recent reports that a Russian crime ring may have stolen the largest collection of online data — including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations—effective data security is more critical than ever for all organizations — public, private or nonprofit. Working out of a small town in south central Russia, the hackers captured mass quantities of online information using botnets — networks of zombie computers infected with a computer virus — to identify websites vulnerable to a common hacking technique known as an SQL injection. Where weaknesses are found, hackers enter a command that allows them to extract the contents of a website's database.
One might think displays of Confederate flags and nooses, racial slurs and evidence of malicious graffiti and epithets is enough to establish a racially hostile work environment. However, a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that employees cannot use such evidence to claim a hostile work environment if they were unaware of the conduct.
On July 31, 2014, President Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order in an effort to crack down on federal contractors with a history of violating employee rights. Beginning in 2016, both the government’s contracting officers and government contractors will be required to track and coordinate contractor and subcontractor compliance with federal and certain state labor laws. As a result, contractors that have already completed adjudication or other determination, or even fully resolved compliance issues, may now face additional scrutiny and remedial requirements.
Workplace harassment is a serious issue, whether it involves unwanted sexual advances or derogatory remarks about a person's race or skin color. Employment laws hold employers responsible for ensuring that the workplace is free of harassment — including that of an outsider such as a client, customer, vendor or independent contractor. Consequently, organizations that ignore harassment simply because it was not committed by an employee may still face third-party harassment lawsuits.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case that will determine the fate of a fisherman whose attempt to avoid penalties for catching undersized fish netted him a conviction for violating a law designed to prevent the destruction of corporate documents.
Everyone should be prepared for an emergency but federal law requires that employers provide a safe work environment even in the face of a natural disaster. Consequently, employers — particularly those in areas most affected by hurricanes — need an emergency-action plan to ensure workers are safe and prepared to handle the drastic changes in workplace conditions that can result from a hurricane, storm or other natural disaster.
Employment is heavily regulated in the U.S., where it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because he or she made a discrimination complaint, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment-discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
Following a record year for data breach incidents — with eight breaches exposing over 10 million identities — the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is closely scrutinizing how those breaches were handled. Multiple recently-opened SEC investigations are focusing on the data security processes companies had in place when the breaches occurred and how much they disclosed — or failed to disclose — to investors about them.