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The interbiznet Bugler
interbiznet presents The Bugler
October 14, 2008

Volunteering: An American Tradition
Volunteering is an American tradition. It is one way that an individual can make a difference.

  • Approximately 109 million American adults volunteer annually - that's 56% of all adults.

  • Volunteers contribute an average of 3.5 hours per week - totaling 20 billion hours with an estimated dollar value of $225 billion.

  • 59% of teenagers volunteer an average of 3.5 hours per week - that's 13.3 million volunteers totaling 2.4 billion hours at a total value of $7.7 billion.
  •  (Read more.)

Reveille & Hyperbole
U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes for September 2008.The U.S. Import Price Index decreased 3.0 percent in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reports, following a 2.6 percent decline in August. Falling petroleum prices led the overall decrease, although nonpetroleum prices also declined. Prices for overall exports decreased 1.0 percent for the month.

Realmatch announced the results of extensive market research into the online habits of job seekers and employers. With competition for employment and talent on the rise - and with layoffs making headlines across the nation, many job seekers are kicking online job searches into high gear hoping to land a steady paycheck. Over 3400 Human Resource professionals and recruiters participated in a recent survey which also reveals a high level of discontent with classified/keyword/pay-to-post job boards. Some of those survey results include:
  •   When posting a job online, the "pay to post" pricing model yields good results with consistent value.
          Moderately disagree 33.9% and
          Strongly disagree 32.2% ;

  •   I would prefer a pay for performance pricing model online where I only pay if I find a suitable candidate for my job -
          Strongly agree 39.2% ,
          Strongly disagree 26.5% ;

  •   Most online job boards have enough traffic to provide value to job seekers and employers.
          Undecided 22.2%,
          Moderately disagree 22.6%,
          Strongly disagree 43.2%.
    (Polly wonders if anyone else finds this an interesting set of numbers.)

TriNet, provider of human resources outsourcing and consulting services, has launched a free podcast series titled TriNet's HR Minute. The free series is geared toward corporate decision makers and managers at small and medium-sized businesses looking for quick insights and highlights from HR experts. Each HR podcast offers a two-minute overview of an HR issue that business owners face every day. Current subjects cover issues including: Employee Compensation, High Performance Culture, Employee Productivity, Goal Alignment, and Organizational Change.

Medical Staffing Network Holdings, Inc. announced it has been notified by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) that it is no longer in compliance with the NYSE's continued listing standards, as the comany is considered below criteria since its market capitalization was less than $75 million over a 30 trading-day period and its shareholders' equity was less than $75 million. Under applicable NYSE procedures, the Company has 45 days from the receipt of the notice to submit a plan to the NYSE to demonstrate its ability to achieve compliance with the continuing listing standards within 18 months. The Company intends to submit such a plan.

InterActive Applicant launches InterActive Applicant, an innovative Web 2.0 multimedia recruitment solution, to the U.S. market. The solution is designed to allow employers and recruiters to save time and money by improving the interview screening process. By using webcam technology, job seeker qualities not apparent on a resume or during a telephone interview can now be seen by hiring managers, allowing job seekers the opportunity to showcase their communication skills and personality and set themselves apart from other candidates.

In Depth with National Law Journal
Details of workers' illness a legal migraine
A recent lawsuit against retail chain Dillard's Inc. is highlighting what some claim is a growing problem in the workplace: employers asking too much information about workers' illnesses when asked for sick leave.

In the Dillard's case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that one California store required employees to reveal the specific nature of their illness in order to deem sick leave as an excused absence. The EEOC argues that this policy violates the Americans With Disability Act (ADA). EEOC v. Dillard's, No. 08-CV-1780 (S.D. Calif.).

In New York, a similar lawsuit is pending against Delphi Corp., an automotive parts supplier accused of requiring workers returning from sick leave to sign releases permitting the company to access their medical information. The EEOC alleges that Delphi has retaliated against employees who object to the medical inquiries, in one case firing a worker on the spot. EEOC v. Delphi Corp., No. 07 CV 6430T (W.D.N.Y.).

Also in New York, a federal judge last year struck down a policy by a transit authority that required employees returning from sick leave to disclose a variety of information, including diagnosis, prognosis, symptoms and treatment. The case settled in June. Transport Workers Union of America v. New York City Transit Authority, No. 02-cv-7659 SAS (S.D.N.Y.).

Both sides see abuses
Meanwhile, management-side lawyers allege that sick-leave abuses have gotten out of hand, especially in the area of intermittent leave, forcing employers to get tougher in rooting out malingerers.

Employee rights' attorneys claim that employers are crossing the line in prying into people's health matters.

"It seems like employers are going to extremes to obtain information," said Gary Phelan of New York employee rights' firm Outten & Golden. "It's almost like employers are implying, 'If you're sick, you better prove it to me, or I'm going to assume you're lying to me.' " Phelan said employers tend to go overboard when employees seek time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave.

But employees are starting to fight back, said Margaret Malloy, an EEOC attorney in New York who is handling the lawsuit against Delphi. "Employees are figuring out that they don't have to be subjected to such invasive medical inquiries, said Malloy, adding the EEOC is committed to fighting intrusive medical inquiries.

According to the EEOC, the ADA prohibits employers from subjecting employees to disability-related inquires not justified by business necessity.

Dillard's officials did not return calls seeking comment. An attorney representing Delphi declined comment.

Management-side lawyers defended the sick-leave practices of employers. Despite facing growing pressure due to intermittent sick leave, they argued, employers are respecting employees' privacy rights.

"I actually don't see many employers demanding to know the exact medical condition, and particularly not for absences that wouldn't otherwise be covered by the FMLA," said Michael Iwan, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney's labor and employment law group in Minneapolis. "There are just as many occasions where it is better for the employer to adhere strictly to a medical opinion - like with certain work restrictions issued by a doctor. And they simply do not want to be put in the position of second-guessing medical opinions."

But where he has seen employers get aggressive in obtaining medical information is dealing with intermittent FMLA-leave abuses. He said employers are seeking more clarification from the medical provider as to the details of intermittent leave, or trying to pin down employees to a precise schedule of absences. He has also seen employers go back to a medical provider if they start to see a pattern of Monday/Friday absences.

Management-side attorney Amy B. Messigian of Hill, Farrer & Burrill in Los Angeles has seen similar practices, arguing that employers are "entitled to know whether the absence or request for leave is due to legitimate medical reasons."

Messigian said employers may ask for a doctor's note or other explanation, so long as the policy covers all employees.

This may reveal an employee's illness, she said, but is especially important in cases of intermittent leave to weed out those suspected of abusing an employer's leave policy. Even if an employer does not have an across-the-board policy, she said, it may require more information from an employee suspected of abusing the policy, such as one who consistently takes leave on Mondays and Fridays.

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