The EEOC has filed lawsuits against the BMW’s Spartanburg, SC manufacturing plant as well as the Dollar General in Goodlettsville, TN. The claim is that both companies are violating the Civil Rights Act due to their policies of not hiring those convicted of crimes, and that is costing African-Americans jobs.
Several employees who had worked at BMW’s plant for years as employees of a logistics services company lost their jobs as a result of BMW’s policy. Their employer, UTi Integrated Logistics, only reviewed criminal convictions for the previous seven years. But when UTi ended its contract with BMW, its employees at the facility had to re-apply for their jobs with a new contractor. BMW ordered the new contractor to follow its criminal background policy, which has no time limit as far as criminal convictions. Several employees failed this test, and were denied jobs as a result.
EEOC’s lawsuit against Dollar General, which has 10,000 stores in 40 states, grew out of a discrimination lawsuit filed by two rejected black applicants. Dollar General also requires criminal background checks as a condition of employment, according to the EEOC. One of the rejected applicants had a 6-year-old drug conviction, but had previously worked at another discount retailer for for four years. The other rejected applicant was fired by Dollar General due to an inaccurate criminal background report.
EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien said the agency has advised employers since the 1980s that “under certain circumstances” their use of arrest and conviction records to deny employment opportunities “could be at odds” with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The number of Medicare license revocations has more than doubled in the last two years under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) compared to preceding years, according to data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Over the last four years, the Obama administration has recovered over $14.9 billion in healthcare fraud judgments, settlements, and administrative impositions, including record recoveries in 2011 and 2012.
Since the Affordable Care Act, CMS has revoked 14,663 providers and suppliers’ ability to bill in the Medicare program since March 2011. These providers were removed from the program because they had felony convictions, were not operational at the address CMS had on file, or were not in compliance with CMS rules.
In 18 states, the number of revocations has quadrupled since CMS put the Affordable Care Act screening and review requirements in place, as well as the implementation of proactive data analysis to identify potential license discrepancies of enrolled individuals and entities. These efforts are ensuring that only qualified and legitimate providers and suppliers can provide health care products and services to Medicare beneficiaries
According to the press release, people with Medicare will soon see in their mailboxes a redesigned statement of their service claims and benefits to help them better identify fraud.
“The New Medicare Summary Notice gives seniors and people with disabilities accurate information on the services they receive in a simpler, clearer way,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “It’s an important tool for staying informed on benefits, and for spotting potential Medicare fraud by making the claims history easier to review.”
CMS will send the notices to Medicare beneficiaries on a quarterly basis.
“A beneficiary’s best defense against fraud is to check their Medicare Summary Notices for accuracy and to diligently protect their health information for privacy,” said Peter Budetti, CMS deputy administrator for program integrity.
“Most Medicare providers are honest and work hard to provide services to beneficiaries,” added Budetti. “Unfortunately, there are some people trying to exploit the Medicare system.”
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Obama administration yesterday, asking the government to halt a phone-tracking program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans, which it says is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court names National Intelligence Director James Clapper, National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller.
“Collecting those details — ‘metadata’ that reveals who people talk to, for how long, how often, and possibly from where — allows the government to paint an alarmingly detailed picture of Americans’ private lives,” the ACLU’s Brett Max Kaufman said in a statement.
“The FISC order cited Section 215 as its legal basis, yet the breadth of the authority it granted to the government is simply incompatible with the text of the statute.”
In other lawsuits against national security policies, the government has often persuaded courts to dismiss them without ruling on the merits by arguing that litigation would reveal state secrets or that the plaintiffs could not prove they were personally affected and so lacked standing in court, according to the New York Times.
They say, however, that this case may be different. The government has now declassified the existence of the program, and the A.C.L.U. is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services — the recipient of a leaked secret court order for all its domestic calling records — which it says gives it standing.
A 1979 ruling over small-scale collection of calling metadata held that such records were not protected by the Fourth Amendment privacy rights since people have revealed such information to phone companies. In a 2012 case involving GPS trackers, however, the Supreme Court suggested that the long-term, automated collection of people’s public movements might raise Fourth Amendment issues.
The new preliminary Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics for 2012 indicate that when compared to data for 2011, the number of violent crimes reported by law enforcement agencies around the country increased 1.2 percent during 2012, while the number of property crimes decreased 0.8 percent.
The final UCR statistics—submitted by approximately 18,000 local, state, campus, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies from around the nation—will be released later in 2013 in the ‘Crime in the United States, 2012′ report.
Among the highlights of the preliminary report:
- Overall, when compared to 2011 figures, the West experienced the largest increase in reported violent crime (up 3.3 percent), and the Northeast experienced the only decrease (down 0.6 percent).
- The Northeast was the only part of the country where the four violent crime categories saw decreases across the board—murder (down 4.4 percent), forcible rapes (down 0.2 percent), robberies (down 1.4 percent), and aggravated assaults (down 0.1 percent).
- The largest rise in reported violent crime (up 3.7 percent) was in cities with populations of 500,000-999,999.
- The West experienced the only increase in reported property crime (up 5.2 percent), while the number of property crimes dropped 1.6 percent in the Northeast, 2.1 percent in the Midwest, and 3.5 percent in the South.
- The number of reported motor vehicle thefts grew by 10.6 percent in the West while showing declines in the Northeast (down 7.9 percent), the Midwest (down 3.1 percent), and the South (down 2.9 percent).
- The number of arson incidents—tallied separately from other property crimes because of various levels of participation by reporting agencies—fell 1.2 percent.
While these insights are interesting, we can’t draw any full conclusions until the final report is out later this year.
A bill recently introduced by Democratic state lawmakers in Delaware would make it the latest state to bar public employers and state contractors from screening potential hires via criminal background and credit history checks in the early stages of the application process.
House Bill No. 167, introduced last week, would amend Delaware’s employment code to prevent any employer from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal and credit records until it has tendered a conditional offer of employment, and would exclude consideration of felony convictions more than 10-years-old and misdemeanor convictions more than five-years-old.
Public employers would then be required to consider a number of factors before rescinding that offer, including evidence of rehabilitation, likelihood of relapse and any relationship between the position being sought and the crime that was committed.
“It is in the interest of the entire community that persons re-entering society after incarceration become productive members of society,” the bill said. “Persons who have paid their debts to society deserve a fair chance at employment and this act is intended to give the individual with a criminal record an opportunity to be judged on his or her own merit during the submission of the application and at least until the completion of one interview.”
Excluded from the bill’s provisions would be police departments, the Department of Corrections and any other positions where background checks are mandated by state statutes. State contractors would be required to comply with the law only insofar as it does not conflict with existing state or federal requirements.
If passed, the bill would make Delaware the 10th state to restrict consideration of criminal records at the application stage, joining California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Mexico, according to the National Employment Law Project.
In the preamble to the bill, the authors noted that the incarceration rate in the U.S. has tripled since 1980 and is nearly eight times its historic average. The authors cited research purportedly demonstrating that individuals with prior criminal histories “pose no greater risk of future criminality than do people with no criminal history.”
In an April report, the NELP estimated that 65 million Americans, or one in four adults, has a criminal record that would show up on a routine background check.
The proposed Delaware legislation is currently before the state Economic Development, Banking, Insurance and Commerce Committee. It was introduced by Democratic Reps. James Johnson, Helene Keeley, Paul Baumbach and Stephanie Bolden, alongside Democratic Sens. Bryan Townsend, Margaret Rose Henry and Karen Peterson.
Add LinkedIn to the list of Internet companies trying to make themselves safer from cyberattacks by adding two-step authentication.
Users of the professional social-networking site now have the option to add two-step verification to their accounts, which is designed to add another layer to the sign-in process when logging in from a new or unknown device. Those who opt in will have to enter their regular password, plus a numeric code that is sent to their phone via SMS every time they log in.
“Most Internet accounts that become compromised are illegitimately accessed from a new or unknown computer (or device),” LinkedIn’s Vincente Silveira wrote in a blog post last week. “When enabled, two-step verification makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to access your account, requiring them to have both your password and access to your mobile phone.”
Two-step verification can be turned on using the site’s settings page for users’ security options. After the feature is enabled, the site will send the code upon sign-in once per device. A user will be notified via email each time his or her account is signed into using a new device.
The changes come one week after Twitter introduced two-factor authentication following a series of recent hacks targeting high-profile businesses on the blogging site, and a year after LinkedIn was in fact hacked, forcing the enterprise social network to reset the passwords of affected accounts. The company did not confirm how many passwords were involved, though it reportedly affected about 6 million users.
LinkedIn is not the only Internet service to have suffered a breach recently, prompting many of the tech world’s biggest firms to implement optional, two-factor authentication. Just last week, Evernote added the service, about three months after it too was hacked. Microsoft, Twitter, and Apple have all done the same.
While two-factor login does add an extra layer of security, it is not a panacea, some security experts have said. With an email phishing attack, for instance, a hacker could fake a login page to ask for the code the user just received, it has been argued.
Aside from two-factor logins, Google laid out several safe password tips for users to follow, though some of the advice was fairly basic. “Use a different password for each important service” and “make your password hard to guess,” the company said.
Texas became the latest state to implement drug testing for welfare recipients when lawmakers approved a bill last week that would require drug testing for some of those seeking unemployment benefits.
Under the bill, first-time unemployment applicants who are looking for jobs in fields that require drug testing (e.g. trucking, aviation or hazardous material industries) must undergo a preliminary written screening test. If the test shows that an applicant is likely to be a drug user, that person must then pass a drug test in order to receive their unemployment benefits.
Applicants who fail the drug test can either enroll in a drug treatment program, which would make them eligible for unemployment, or reapply for benefits after 30 days.
House Republican Brandon Creighton, the bill’s sponsor, claims that the measure will help to ensure that unemployment benefits are available “to help those that need [them] the most,” while encouraging more drug users to seek treatment.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that Texas is now the 9th state to pass laws that deal with drug screening and testing for those seeking public assistance, joining Kansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.
Drug testing for welfare applicants and recipients
Welfare drug screening laws are a welcome addition for many, who justify such legislation by suggesting that anyone applying for or receiving welfare should not be an exception to the drug screening rules that many employed taxpayers are subjected to.
Nonetheless, there will also always be critics. Democratic opponents to this Texas bill say that there is no evidence that those applying for unemployment benefits are any more likely to be drug users. “Losing a job is a very traumatic thing,” Turner said on the House floor, according to Thomson Reuters. “Aren’t we just adding insult to injury in what is a very traumatic situation already?”
Whether right or wrong, we have no doubt that more states will follow the path of implementing welfare drug testing legislation in the near future.
A study published in the journal Injury Prevention – authored by Carol Runyan, a professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, Colorado – found that students with criminal records prior to college were more likely to engage in criminal activity during college than students with no criminal records.
The study surveyed 6,972 students, and using cohort and case-control analyses identified college misconduct through college records and self-reports on a confidential survey of graduating seniors.
It also examined pre-college behavior as indicated on admissions records, a survey and criminal background checks.
Results showed that 8.5 percent of applicants with a criminal history were charged with crimes during college, while only 3.3 percent with pre-college criminal histories self-reported misconduct during the admissions process.
The conclusion drawn – and something that is clearly indicated in the data – was that though pre-college behavior is a risk factor for college misconduct, screening questions on the application are not adequate to detect which students will engage in college misconduct. Instead, a program such as this would benefit from replication to determine the utility of criminal background investigations as part of admissions.
What do you think – can college crime be prevented by student background checks?
Kohl’s Department Stores recently announced a $1.5 million donation to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin from Kohl’s Cares, the company’s philanthropic platform, to fund the Kohl’s Cares Grow Safe & Healthy program. The program is designed to make Wisconsin kids and families aware of safety risks in and out of their homes.
“Kohl’s is proud to continue our partnership with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin,” said Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Together, we are working to educate Wisconsin children and families about injury prevention to create a safer, healthier community.”
The Kohl’s Cares Grow Safe & Healthy program will present age-relevant information to remind Wisconsin families that injury prevention is important at all ages.
“With Kohl’s generous $1.5 million donation, we are honored to continue our long-standing partnership and joint commitment to the Milwaukee community,” said Bridget Clementi, director of community health, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. “Our work together allows us to develop fun and educational programs for the kids and families in our area.”
The donation is funded through the Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program, which sells special merchandise, including plush toys and books, and donates 100 percent of the net profit to benefit children’s health and education initiatives nationwide.
Since 2000, Kohl’s Department Stores together with Kohl’s Cares have combined to give more than $55 million to support charitable initiatives in the metro-Milwaukee area, including more than $8.3 million to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to help improve the health and safety of Wisconsin children.
Today we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.
You can honor Memorial Day this year with the #ThankYouCampaign by simply tweeting or posting a photo thanking our troops with the hashtag #thankyoucampaign.
The #ThankYouCampaign encourages all Americans to say “Thank You” to the families who have lost loved ones that served in the military. The public is asked to take part in the social media campaign by showing support via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
Visit http://thankyoucampaign.org/ for more details.
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