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Happy Friday!

Have a happy and safe 3-day weekend away from the “Weekly Overload Recreational Killer” (WORK)!

Mega Group Online Closed September 2 for Labor Day

Mega Group Online will be closed Monday, September 2, 2013 in observance of the Labor Day holiday.We will return to normal operation on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. PST.

From all of us at MGO, have a safe and happy holiday!

EEOC VS. FREEMAN CO. CASE DISMISSED

“A federal judge cast doubt on government efforts to restrict employers’ use of criminal-background checks in hiring as he dismissed a lawsuit by regulators against a Dallas event-marketing company.

U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus in Maryland said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission didn’t show that Freeman Co. discriminated against black applicants by using criminal-background checks or credit checks in its hiring process.

“The story of the present action has been that of a theory in search of facts to support it,” Judge Titus wrote in a stinging rebuke to the federal agency. “But there are simply no facts here to support” the EEOC’s claim that black applicants were improperly discriminated against, the judge said.

The lawsuit against Freeman, filed in 2009, was an early salvo in the agency’s effort to regulate the use of criminal-background checks. In June, it filed suit against retailer Dollar General Corp.  DG +1.24% and a U.S. unit of German auto maker BMW AG, BMW.XE +0.03%  alleging that those companies discriminated against black applicants by checking criminal histories. Those cases are pending.

Roughly 87% of employers use criminal-background checks in hiring, according to a 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. They include the EEOC itself, according to Judge Titus’s opinion.

Civil-rights activists and the EEOC say the checks can be discriminatory because blacks are convicted of crimes at higher rates than whites. Last year,  the EEOC issued guidelines that don’t prohibit the use of criminal checks, but urge employers to consider the crime, its relation to an applicant’s potential job, and how much time has passed since the conviction.

The guidelines also recommend that employers review each case individually, and allow applicants to show why they should be hired despite a conviction.

Judge Titus ruled that Freeman’s use of criminal checks “appears reasonable and suitably tailored to its purpose of ensuring an honest workforce.” He said that Freeman limited its review to convictions in the past seven years and didn’t penalize applicants for arrests that didn’t result in conviction.”

 

Originally posted by The Wall Street Journal and can be viewed at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323838204579002892979510718.html

Happy Friday!

 

 

NORTH DAKOTA INSURANCE AGENTS MUST UNDERGO BACKGROUND CHECKS

“The North Dakota Insurance Department announced that as of Sept. 1, 2013, anyone applying to become a North Dakota resident insurance producer must undergo a criminal background check, including fingerprinting.

This requirement is the result of the passage of Senate Bill 2304 and does not apply to individuals renewing a license or individuals who apply for a license within 12 months after their license was cancelled or expired, unless the license was suspended or revoked.

Also beginning Sept. 1, 2013, Pearson VUE will no longer administer the North Dakota insurance exams. PSI will begin administering the examinations starting Sept. 3, 2013. Agents can begin scheduling appointments to take examinations Aug. 16, 2013, according to the insurance department.”

 

Originally posted by Insurance Journal and can be found at: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/midwest/2013/08/08/301213.htm

 

 

Federal Laws Don’t Protect Unpaid Interns

“Unpaid interns miss out on wages and employment benefits, but they can also find themselves in “legal limbo” when it comes to civil rights, according to law professor and intern labor rights advocate David Yamada. The O’Connor decision (the leading ruling on the matter, according to Yamada) held that because they don’t get a paycheck, unpaid interns are not “employees” under the Civil Rights Act – and thus, they’re not protected.

Federal policies echo court rulings. The laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including the Civil Rights Act, don’t cover interns unless they receive “significant remuneration,” according to commission spokesperson Joseph Olivares.

“At least with respect to the federal law that we enforce, an unpaid intern would not be legally protected by our laws prohibiting sexual harassment,” Olivares said in an email to ProPublica.

It’s unclear how many interns are sexually harassed at work. The commission doesn’t keep those statistics, according to Olivares. And as the Chicago Tribune detailed in 2011, interns often don’t know where to turn when faced with harassment or can fear retaliation from bosses they look to for future jobs or recommendations.

“You can understand perhaps why there haven’t been more cases,” said Yamada. “If you’re a young student, and have been trying to get a career off the ground, the bind that puts someone in is significant, because there’s retaliation.”

Olivares noted that while federal laws don’t protect unpaid interns, company policies and state or local laws could sometimes broaden workplace protections.

In June, Oregon passed a law expanding discrimination and harassment protections to interns, whether they are paid or not. According to Charlie Burr, spokespersonfor the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon is the first state to pass such protections.

“Those principles of protecting people in the workplace have been in place for a long time, but they’ve never applied to interns,” said Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian. “It really left them with few options.”

Oregon’s law protects interns from sexual harassment and discrimination based on race, religion, gender, disability, and sexual orientation and covers wrongful termination tied to discrimination — but it doesn’t create an employment relationship or impact wages, an issue the state was careful to avoid, according to Avakian.

The idea for the law came from Carole Delogu, a former unpaid intern in the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, after she read an article in the Public Interest Law Journal on the workplace protections not afforded to interns.

“I was in disbelief,” Delogu said, of her reaction to the loophole. “Interns are in a fragile place, they want to get their foot in the door, so they don’t complain.”

So Delogu brought her concerns to the Labor bureau, and helped draft a proposal to close the gap in protections. Under the new law, Delogu hopes “more people will be able to stand up for their rights.”

D.C. has made similar strides to protect interns. Council member Mary Cheh lobbied successfully to extend the D.C. Human Rights Act protections against sexual harassment to interns after hearing the story of one intern’s sexual harassment claims against her employer, a massage and body therapy center in Friendship Heights. The intern’s case was dismissed because she was unpaid.

Yet as Maurice Pianko, attorney and founder of Intern Justice, points out: if for-profit employers paid their interns when they should (and usually they should be paid), protection from discrimination and sexual harassment would automatically apply.”

 

Originally posted by The Huffington Post and can be viewed at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/09/unpaid-interns_n_3732617.html

REMEDY FOR A LONG FRIDAY?

 

Originally posted by The Meta Picture and can be found at http://themetapicture.com/the-solution-to-every-office-problem

COMMUNITY SPORTS VOLUNTEERS TO UNDERGO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS

“Parents signing their kids up for community sports leagues like soccer may want to consider this: Not all volunteer coaches undergo criminal background checks.

California law requires school districts to order background checks for all sports coaches, but it’s quiet on the matter of community sports coaches, who are mostly parent volunteers.

Large youth sports organizations such as Little League and the American Youth Soccer Organization require coaches to undergo background checks, but many of the smaller community programs do not.

Assembly Bill 465 by Democrat Susan Bonilla of Concord and Republican Brian Maienschein of San Diego would give youth sports programs the express authority to require criminal background checks on volunteer coaches and be notified by the Department of Justice of any subsequent arrests.

The bill passed its final vote Thursday and is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s consideration.”

Originally posted by The Sacramento Bee and can be viewed here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/08/12/5642335/the-buzz-bill-may-lead-to-background.html

It’s Friday!

 

 

 

Originally posted by The Meta Picture and can be found at http://themetapicture.com/he-does-whatever-he-wants

HUGE FCRA VERDICT AGAINST MAJOR CREDIT BUREAU

“Last week an Oregon jury awarded an individual plaintiff over $18 million in compensatory and punitive damages in what some sources have reported to be the first jury verdict in a case brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(c).  The plaintiff, Julie Miller, discovered problems with her credit report in 2009, when a bank, citing Ms. Miller’s poor credit history, rejected a loan to her son for which Ms. Miller was a co-signer.  Ms. Miller requested a copy of her credit report from Equifax and discovered that her credit history contained erroneous information, including an incorrect Social Security Number  (“SSN”), an incorrect birthdate, and charges and collection activity relating to obligations that Ms. Miller had never incurred.  Over the course of the next two years Ms. Miller contacted Equifax nine times in a fruitless effort to correct the credit report.  Only then did she bring suit against Equifax, seeking compensatory and punitive damages under the FCRA.

Discovery revealed that Ms. Miller was the victim of a “mixed file,” a known phenomenon in which two individuals’ credit histories are conflated into a single record.  The plaintiff’s credit record had become intertwined with that of another Julie Miller who shared the same middle initial, was the same age, and had an SSN that shared seven of nine digits with Ms. Miller’s SSN.  These coincidences resulted in the mixing of the two credit records, with the other Julie Miller’s bad credit history becoming a part of the plaintiff Julie Miller’s credit report.  Although Equifax had established procedures to address and resolve mixed file issues, Equifax admitted in its pretrial memo “that it should have taken additional steps to assure that Plaintiff’s disputes were handled pursuant to its mixed file procedures . . . .”   Equifax’s defenses at trial were that the mixed file was not the result of inadequate procedures, and that its flawed implementation of mixed file procedures was not a willful violation of the FCRA.  After three days of trial the jury rejected both of these arguments, finding that Equifax’s violations of the FCRA had resulted in actual damages of $180,000, and that such conduct was willful, thus warranting punitive damages of $18,400,000.

The large verdict against Equifax illustrates the potentially high cost of poor customer service.  Given the coincidences at play, the creation of a mixed file was probably not unreasonable.  The apparent failure, however, to be responsive to Ms. Miller’s requests for correction unduly prolonged the error and created frustrations that inexorably led to litigation.  Ms. Miller wrote to Equifax nine times to seek correction of her record and, despite providing all of the information requested by Equifax, received an identical form letter on nine separate occasions requesting that the necessary information be provided.  The surprising thing is not that Ms. Miller brought suit but that it took so long for her to do so.  The seeming indifference to Ms. Miller’s efforts to fix her credit history plainly resonated with the jury and fueled the substantial award of punitive damages.  The consequences of Equifax’s failure to be responsive to Ms. Miller’s complaint teaches a valuable lesson to all businesses that deal with consumers.

The size of the award to Ms. Miller also suggests that juries are likely to view injury to a plaintiff’s credit history as a significant harm.  As such, the verdict highlights the potential costs associated with data breaches, as the impairment of even a single consumer’s credit history by reason of a data breach can provide grounds for a substantial recovery.  The risk of such exposure makes it imperative that businesses that use and store consumer credit card numbers, SSNs and other personally identifiable information develop and implement sound practices to maintain data security and to respond to data breaches.  A responsive program to minimize the risks of credit history impairment after data breach could be the one thing that stands between a company and an award of punitive damages.”

 

Article was originally posted by JDSUPRA LAW NEWS and can be found at http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/huge-fcra-verdict-against-equifax-shows-75388