Category Archives: Uncategorized

States Lead On Minimum Wage. Is Congress Listening?

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from social.dol.gov

Congress is back in session this week, and if members have been listening to their constituents they will move quickly to raise the federal minimum wage, which has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power since the 1980s. But absent action from Capitol Hill, states are taking up the slack.

In March, President Obama and I visited Central Connecticut State University with four New England governors who are leading the charge to reward hard work with a fair wage. Three weeks after our visit, Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut signed a bill raising Connecticut’s minimum wage. And in the last month alone, Govs. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and − as recently as last Wednesday − Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island have followed suit.


President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage, at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, March 5, 2014. The President is joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut; Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
President Obama in Connecticut

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, March 5, 2014. He is joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut; Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

These state leaders are answering the call of low-wage workers who want nothing more than the dignity of being able to support their families, men and women who have to make heartbreaking decisions every day about which bill to pay or which meal to skip. These governors and their legislatures are also listening…

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Court Rules that Telecommuting Could Be Reasonable Accommodation under the ADA

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.linkedin.com

Today’s post is authored by Johnn Geaney, a member of the NJ Bar and a Shareholder at Capehart Scatchard and shared from linkedin.com

Telecommuting is a trend that is rapidly growing in the United States, and telecommuting requests are also on the rise as a potential reasonable accommodation under the ADA. A recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case, EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 7502 (6 Cir. 2014) illustrates how difficult it can be for an employer to oppose a request for telecommuting.

Jane Harris was hired in 2003 by Ford as a resale buyer, serving as an intermediary between steel suppliers and “stampers,” which are companies that use steel to produce parts for Ford. Her job was to respond to emergency supply issues to ensure no gap in steel supply to parts manufacturers. The most important part of the job was group problem solving, requiring that a buyer be available to interact with members of the resale team, suppliers and others in the Ford system when problems arose.

Harris suffered from IBS, an illness that caused her fecal incontinence. Some days she could not drive to work or stand up from her desk without potentially soiling herself. She took intermittent leave when severe symptoms occurred. In 2005, her supervisor allowed her to work from home on a flex-time telecommuting schedule on a trial basis. The company did not view the trial period as a success. She continued to work occasionally from home doing remote work,…

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Facebook Required to Turn Over User Information in Disability-Fraud Investigation

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from online.wsj.com.

Today’s ppost was shared from http://online.wsj.com

The Manhattan district attorney has won a legal battle against Facebook Inc. with a New York judge’s ruling that the social network was required to turn over user information in a fraud investigation.

When workers who filed for federal disability money were seen on Facebook looking perfectly healthy, the Manhattan district attorney received a search warrant from a judge to look more closely at the accounts.

Facebook had attempted to quash the warrants for 381 user accounts on grounds that they were unconstitutional and in violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

After reviewing the search-warrant application, the judge found “probable cause that evidence of criminality would be found within the subject Facebook accounts,” and ordered Facebook to comply.

The district attorney’s office said the case led to 134 indictments on more than $400 million in fraud, and that half the defendants have pleaded guilty.

“This was a massive scheme involving as many as 1,000 people who defrauded the federal government,” said Joan Vollero, spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “The defendants in this case repeatedly lied to the government about their mental, physical, and social capabilities. Their Facebook accounts told a different story,” she said.

The judge in the case said Facebook had no right to get in the way of the investigation.

“Facebook could best be…

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Social Security Agency Cuts Services as Demand Grows, Senate Report Says

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nytimes.com

WASHINGTON — The Social Security Administration is closing field offices and reducing services to the public even as demand for those services surges with the aging of the baby boom generation, according to a bipartisan Senate committee report.

The report, to be issued Wednesday by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, says the agency has closed more than two dozen field offices in the last year, generally without considering the needs of communities and without consulting beneficiaries or field office managers.

In deciding whether to close field offices, the Social Security Administration “excludes both its own managers and the affected public,” and the decisions often appear arbitrary, the report says.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said, “Seniors are not being served well when you arbitrarily close offices and reduce access to services.”

He added, “The closure process is neither fair nor transparent and needs to change.”

The field offices served over 43 million people last year. About 10 percent of the visitors filed for benefits, and 30 percent were seeking new or replacement Social Security cards.

In testimony prepared for a committee hearing on the issue on Wednesday, Nancy A. Berryhill, a deputy commissioner at the agency, said its budget and work force had not kept pace with what she described as “a staggering 27 percent increase” in claims for retirement benefits, to 3.3…

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Closing the Income Inequality Gap

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from social.dol.gov

Editor’s note: The following guest post is authored by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. Join the conversation about this issue on Twitter using #RaiseTheWage.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

San Francisco is the most progressive city in America when it comes to addressing income inequality. And we will continue to make sure San Francisco remains a city affordable to the 100 percent.

President Obama understands that income inequality remains one of the great challenges of our time, and I’ve supported his efforts to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. There is no better time than right now to take action. As jobs and confidence are coming back, we must make sure that the residents in our cities are not left behind in the economic recovery.

Last week in my city, legislators, business leaders, labor unions and workers’ rights representatives joined me to introduce a fair and responsible consensus measure for the November 2014 ballot that will significantly raise San Francisco’s minimum wage. The rising cost of living is putting a financial squeeze on our city’s hardest working families, and this is a measure that will help them make ends meet. It’s the right thing to do.

We have taken up the president’s call to address income inequality at the local level – not just in my city, but in other cities across the nation. But we cannot leave anyone behind. That’s why I’ve introduced a resolution to be…

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Employers Beware: Missouri Supreme Court Heightens the Risk of Dismissing Employees Who Filed Workers Compensation Claims

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com

The Missouri Supreme Court recently overruled the long-standing “exclusive” causation standard for worker’s compensation retaliation claims and held that an employee only needs to demonstrate that filing a worker’s compensation claim was a “contributing factor” to an employer’s discrimination or adverse action. In Templemire v. W&M Welding, Inc, — S.W.3d –, (Mo. 2014), No. SC 93132, 2014 WL 1464574, (Mo. April 15, 2014), the “contributing factor” standard turns on whether an illegal factor played any role in the decision to discharge the employee rather than the exclusive reason. Put another way, imagine an employer with 10 reasons for terminating an employee — nine of the reasons are lawful and one is because the employee filed a worker’s compensation claim. In that scenario, the firing is illegal discrimination.

The major take-away -

The Missouri Supreme Court’s ground-breaking decision makes it significantly easier for employees to prove worker’s compensation retaliation. Employees now may sue and recover if they can prove their worker’s compensation claim was “a factor” in the decision to dismiss, just like in discrimination cases under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). Therefore, we anticipate a resurgence in these claims. Employers should proceed with caution and seek legal counsel when terminating or taking any other adverse employment action against an employee…

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Transforming Apprenticeships for the 21st Century

UPS apprenticeship

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from social.dol.gov

On Wednesday, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited Pennsylvania to announce new actions to enhance job-driven training across America. A key focus of the president’s remarks was how apprenticeships are one of the clearest paths to good, high-paying jobs. As he mentioned, 9 out of 10 apprentices get hired for full-time jobs after completing their program, and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is more than $50,000. Expanding apprenticeship opportunities will give more Americans a chance to secure a foothold in the middle class.

Several new efforts will help double the number of apprenticeships over the next five years, a goal the president laid out in his State of the Union address. For the first time, the Labor Department is making $100 million available help more workers participate in apprenticeships. The grant competition will launch this fall and will be funded by fees employers pay through the H-1B visa program to hire temporary high-skilled foreign workers.

Using these existing funds, the new American Apprenticeship Grants competition will focus on partnerships between employers, labor organizations, training providers, community colleges, local and state governments, the workforce system, nonprofits and faith-based organizations. These partnerships will help expand tried-and-true apprenticeship models to newer, high-growth fields like information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing; making sure…

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President Obama Speaks At Southern Site Of The Keystone Oil Pipeline

Obama announces $600M to support apprenticeships

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from www.mid-marketpulse.com

Before apprenticeships can help narrow the country’s growing skills gap, Americans will have to bridge a much deeper cultural divide: a deep-seated bias toward college.“Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and really valuable on-the-job learning opportunities as vocational consolation prizes best suited for those who are not cut out for a 4-year degree,” said Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” series in testimony before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee.

New federal initiatives from the White House and Capitol Hill are challenging that perception. Yesterday the White House announced $600 million in grant programs to support job-driven training programs like apprenticeships.

A $500 million competition will award grants to community colleges that partner with businesses to provide collaborative job training programs that can be expanded on a national scale.

To increase apprenticeship programs, a second competition will provide $100 million for American Apprenticeship Grants in high-growth fields such as information technology, high-tech services, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing. According to the White House, 87 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs, and earn an average starting wage over $50,000.

“It’s never been more important for our folks to be trained for the jobs that are there — and for the jobs of the future,”…

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When Experience Pays: Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from social.dol.gov

Every spring, as college students nationwide prepare for finals and pull all-nighters to wrap up their spring semesters, many simultaneously ramp up their search for the perfect internship. The Wage and Hour Division understands that these “foot-in-the-door” opportunities can provide invaluable experience and have a great impact on future career paths. But when can internships be unpaid, and when must interns be considered employees? When must these programs pay not just in terms of experience, but in cold, hard cash?

Labor Department interns

Just like many college officials, parents and students, the Wage and Hour Division is concerned that interns work under conditions that are in compliance with federal law. If you in fact are an “employee,” you must be paid properly. A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, provides criteria for what is and is not legal regarding payment for internships. Six criteria must be applied when determining if an internship can be unpaid:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern;…

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Businesses file class action lawsuit over oil spill in Galveston Bay

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.chron.com

Crews scoop up heavy fuel oil that washed up on East Beach in Galveston, Texas on Monday March 24, 2014 as they begin cleaning up after a weekend oil spill in Galveston Bay. More than 160,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil spilled into the bay after a barge collided with a ship near the Texas City Dike. Photo: Jennifer Reynolds, Associated Press

Charter fishing businesses and individuals who have suffered property losses and other costs as a result of the March 22 collision near the Texas City Dike have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against Kirby Inland Marine and Cleopatra Shipping Agency.

The suit was filed March 24 in U.S. District Court in Galveston over the collision of a barge pushed by a tow boat named Miss Susan and a 585-foot bulk carrier, Summer Wind. Kirby Inland Marine owns the vessel Miss Susan, while Cleopatra Shipping Agency owns Summer Wind.

The collision caused the release of oil into Galveston Bay. The barge sank to the bottom of the channel and lies partially submerged, the lawsuit states.

At the time of the filing, it was unknown how much of the 924,000 gallons of oil on the barge were released into Galveston Bay, but the spill has had a "wide and devastating effect on Galveston Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the people who use and depend on it," according to the class action complaint.

The marine fuel oil that was released is a heavy crude that does not evaporate quickly, making it particularly harmful to the environment and difficult to clean up, the complaint states.

The plaintiffs include 3G Fishing Chaters, 3G Bait and Tackle Shop, Launch Waterfront Eatery, Galveston Fishing Charter Co., Matt Garner doing business as All American Fishing Charters, Sammy Flores, Adam Kleczkowski, Greg Verm doing business as Fishing Galveston Texas, Caroline Cope and Scott Moss doing…

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