Wednesday, September 26, 2012 0 comments

Social Media increasingly being used as evidence

As if we haven't seen enough written about the need to exercise caution about what is being said in social media, another word of warning comes from Allen Smith, who recently interviewed David Osterman, a New Jersey attorney specializing in labor and human resources issues for a recent story in the Society for Human Resource Management website

While this news that social media is impacting what takes place in courtrooms probably isn't surprising to many, the details of the story bear attention in the article, Smith warns readers that:

"Social media has filtered into courtrooms, transforming jury selection; questioning of witnesses; interactions between jurors, lawyers and judges; and evidence. And employment litigation has been affected ..."

In the story, Osterman details how social media is being used to do advance research for jurors and witnesses, as well as how social media commentary is qualified as evidence in the courtroom. For those who want to protect their company from legal exposure or prepare a strong defense for cases that may go to trial, this story makes for good reading.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 0 comments

More signs of ramped-up OSHA enforcement and penalties

It seems that some of these efforts have drawn some controversy, most notably the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), which kicked off two years ago, replacing the agency's Enhanced Enforcement Program with the aim of focusing enforcement efforts upon:

(H)igh-emphasis hazards, which are defined as high gravity serious violations of specific fall standards -- 23 such standards are listed in general industry, construction, shipyards, marine terminal, and longshoring -- or standards covered in National Emphasis Programs focused on amputations, combustible dusts, crystalline silica, lead, excavation/trenching, shipbreaking, and process safety management.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 0 comments

Immigration enforcement focusing on employers

Federal immigration officials in Kansas are applying severe measures to punish those who employ undocumented workers:

After an Overland Park couple were indicted, accused of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and paying them less than other employees, federal authorities said Tuesday that they would seek to seize the couple’s two hotels.

This followed a raid earlier this year which found that roughly half the employees at the two hotels were undocumented workers. The feds allege the couple paid the workers with cash and paid them less than the minimum wage, including to an undercover agent who told the couple he was an illegal alien.

According to Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, the agency would continue to go after employers for illegal hires, warning "We are going to enforce immigration laws, and we are going to enforce them equally ... we’re not going to enforce them merely on the backs of (undocumented workers).

This is part of a new approach to dealing with the illegal immigration issue by going after employers. Two years ago, the New York Times reported on the agency's new focus:
Thursday, September 13, 2012 1 comments

The wrong way to handle an immigration audit

There are right ways to handle an immigration compliance audit and there are wrong ways.

In Los Angeles, Yoel A. Wazana, 38, owner and production manager of Wazana Brothers International, Inc., doing business as Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE), decided to try one of the wrong ways and will now have to plead guilty plead to one felony count of false representation of a Social Security number. This comes after a 2008 raid resulted in the arrest of eight company workers on criminal charges and another 130 for  administrative immigration violations. 

Considering the extent to which he attempted to cover up potential problems, he's lucky to get off so lightly:

According to court documents, shortly after MSE received notification in April 2007 that HSI planned to audit the company's payroll and hiring records, Wazana directed that about 80 of MSE's most experienced employees – at least 53 of whom did not have work authorization – be relocated to another manufacturing facility. When investigators requested hiring records from MSE on three separate occasions, the company failed to provide paperwork for those unauthorized workers. The plea agreements filed in this case also describe how, after learning of the ICE audit, Wazana conducted meetings with MSE's assembly line workers, instructing them to obtain valid work authorization documents and return with those documents, suggesting that he did not care if the documents were actually theirs.

As this blog is not written by an immigration attorney, I won't attempt to tell you the right ways to handle an immigration audit, but based upon my experience in the field of HR (and having passed immigration compliance audits), compliance with the law in hiring practices seems like a good way to keep out of trouble.  
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 0 comments

Questions about Unemployment Insurance reforms in South Carolina

Depending upon who you ask, efforts to crack down on eligibility for unemployment insurance may or may not be paying off. This year, the agency that issues these payments says they're on track to pay out significantly less for unemployment claims, with an expected $300 million paid out, a full third less than the $450 million paid out in 2011.

Why is this important? The state's unemployment insurance fund is supported by payroll taxes from employers. Fewer claims allow the agency to cut back taxes and pay back money borrowed from the federal government to help make payments in past years.

But there are differing opinions on the issue about the potential for rate reductions for employers between staff who oversee the program and State Senator Kevin Bryant, an Anderson County Republican who chairs the State Senate's Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee's subcommittee that oversees unemployment insurance issues.