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Court Decision leaves Risk Management Practices in Flux

A decision recently made by a federal court has the potential to shake things up in terms of risk management practices among businesses. The decisions have stemmed from a case involving contract administrators and contractors. Allegedly, several contractors inflated the prices of their work for projects completed for and billed to the United States. The work was completed on military bases overseas. When the contract administrator, plaintiff-relator, requested documents from the contractor regarding internal paperwork filed in regard to billing misconduct, they were denied the information by the contractors. The court intervened and ordered that the documents be released after stating that the information was not privileged. While the contractors tried to cite attorney-client privilege when withholding the documents, the court reminded them of the codes of business ethics that accompanies agreements executed with the United States government. Such agreements require complete cooperation with governme ...

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Employers responsible for chronic conditions despite the annoyance

Although chronic conditions are difficult for employers to manage in terms of benefits, lawyers advise that it’s a necessary evil for human resources professionals. Chronic conditions are defined as diseases or disorders that: progress slowly and over a long duration of time that cause multiple episodes or periods of incapacity that last one year or longer, usually a lifetime often involves complications that evolve from treatments or various medications.  Sometimes it’s hard to decipher disabilities that are chronic conditions. Some of these include: respiratory problems, inflammation, chronic pain, neurological issues, seizure disorders, immune issues, bladder problems, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety problems, severe mental illness, intellectual or special education disabilities, among others. Employers are required to allow employees to have reduced hours or leave time when it is considered a medical requirement so that the employee can trea ...

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Writing Job Descriptions Properly to Include those with Disabilities

When disability discrimination cases arise in terms of employment, involved parties often look to the employees’ job description for answers. When a job description is well written and as transparent as possible, employers can avoid a verdict that doesn’t fall in their favor. In a recent case involving Starbucks and a barista in a Boston, Massachusetts store, one of the job requirements that the employee was originally hired for was not found in the text of his job description. The employee was hired to work at the Starbucks location in October 2008. Managers asked him what his availability would be in terms of working both opening and closing shifts. Information regarding the employee’s ability to work specific shifts, including the opening and closing times, was never included anywhere in writing upon his hire or in his job description. The employee suffered a seizure and doctors advise him to stop working for a month. His manager told him that he could return to work when he had a ...

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Six Considerations Employers Should Make Before Utilizing Private Exchanges

The Affordable Care Act as well as the private health care exchanges could create sweeping changes for employers who still wish to offer health care benefits for their employees. The following eight considerations are areas employers should consider when looking into a private exchange. There are numerous factors that come into play when employers are making the decision to potentially move to a private exchange. Some of these considerations include the way the current health care plan is designed, demographics within the company, wages of those who are employed by the company, and the current model of the industry in which your business is operating. Switching to exchanges requires that employers have a good grasp on what’s available as well as regional differences in health care plan offerings. Additionally, knowing what the cost currently is to employees as well as what it could become is valuable information. Companies that do switch to an exchange still need to offer other benefits including ...

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Many Employers Still Deciding How to Handle E-Cigarettes

As E-Cigarettes continue to emerge more frequently, so do the questions as to the legality of the devices in areas where smoking traditional cigarettes is illegal. Many are unsure as to what effects the devices might have on those who are around individuals who utilize the devices to smoke. The Food and Drug Administration is beginning to look into regulating the devices. Meanwhile, states and cities are beginning to examine how (and if) the devices can be used within the law as it stands. Others are creating new laws altogether to ban the devices. The big question is: what are the health and safety hazards associated with these devices? This information still seems to be missing from the e-Cigarette equation. Employers also don’t know if these devices are enough to encourage smokers to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Various workplaces seem to be divided on rules and regulations surrounding these devices. McDonalds, for instance, allows the use of the devices in offices in restaurants. Wal- ...

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