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Companies that violate labor laws will now struggle to obtain federal contracts

Some employers are always willing to ignore state and federal labor laws for their own gain. Fortunately, the federal government has recently moved to crack down on adherence to federal labor law.

Now, any company that violates wage and discrimination laws or other labor laws will struggle to land federal contracts. The signed executive order has mandated that federal contractors report if they have violated any labor laws during the last three years. If they have violated labor and wage laws and/or if those violations are outrageous, they will not be considered for government contracts.

The order was signed into existence based on a study by the Government Accountability Office that revealed that about two-thirds of the 50 biggest wage and hour law violators carry federal contracts. Twenty of the 50 companies had also received huge penalties for safety violations. 

While the order is generally viewed as a step in the right direction, some observers think that a company unfairly accused may lose a chance to land government work, resulting in discrimination. However, if a company has only faced one accusation or committed one violation, it may not necessarily be enough for them to lose a chance to get a federal government contract. The order is aiming to deny companies federal work where the labor violations are repetitive, serious and deliberate.

This latest executive order also prohibits companies with federal contracts over $1.0 million from demanding workers sign mandatory arbitration agreements should they file an assault, sexual discrimination or harassment claim. Those arrangements are typically tilted in favor of the arbitration company.

It is about time that the federal government took steps for fair treatment for workers. Perhaps this new order may level the playing field and send a strong signal to companies that would cut corners and treat workers unfairly.

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As California goes gray, abuse escalates

California’s aging population raises a number of concerns, the most urgent of which is elder and nursing home abuse. The older the population, the greater the number of abuse cases. And California is not the only state to notice the correlation between an increasing number of seniors in care and an escalation in senior abuse.

Sadly, many seniors who face abuse on a daily basis do not report it. This is due, in part, to the fact that many abusers are family members, and the senior depends on them for care. The National Center on Elder Abuse indicates that many abusers are spouses, adult children, partners and other individuals within the family circle. Millions of seniors living across America are living in fear.

Consider the situation in Connecticut as an example. Fourteen percent of Connecticut’s residents are over the age of 65, and another 27 percent are turning 65 over the next 15 years. Social services and health care providers have warned that the larger the elderly and disabled population grows, the higher the risk that abuse and neglect become epidemic. There is an urgent need for competent caregivers.

U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics revealed that there are at least 2.15 million elder abuse cases every year. Annually, more than 9 percent of U.S. seniors are likely to experience some form of abuse, whether financial, physical, mental, emotional or psychological. 

Currently, the average age of an elder abuse victim is 77.9 years. With the average age rising each year thanks to new medical technology, the age of victims is bound to rise in tandem.

Will you be part of the solution? If you are aware of elder abuse in a private setting or in a nursing home facility, speak up and contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. Stop the cycle of abuse.

Are drivers for hire independent contractors or employees?

For years, professional drivers have faced a legal conundrum in classification. In court, it can really matter whether one is an independent contractor or an employee. The standards used for figuring out if someone is a contractor or not frequently presents a serious sticking point in lawsuits.

The uncertainly built to a boiling point when FedEx drivers began filing class action lawsuits, insisting that they should be deemed employees. Their cases cited various laws from various states, amounting to a massive cluster of citations, laws and claims. Eventually, the lawsuits were rolled into multi-district litigation in Indiana. That decision resulted in a ruling that FedEx drivers were employees in three states and independent contractors in 23. Appeals followed.

Employee and contractor statuses are completely different according to federal tax law, federal wage and hour law, benefits law and anti-discrimination law. Throw in other existing variables from state to state and you get a recipe for confusion. Often, the same employment “arrangement” can be classed in a variety of ways in different states under different laws.

The legal question that has been haunting FedEx drivers for more than ten years has, in part, been solved. The drivers’ lawsuits contended that they were misclassified. At appeal in August 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that in Oregon and California, at least, drivers are employees and not contractors.

The Ninth Circuit issued two opinions reversing the initial decision for California and Oregon drivers. The Ninth Circuit pointed out that the agreements between the drivers and the company gave the employer the right to control their manner of dress, workloads, how they arranged their cargo, their physical appearance and in what areas they worked. Ultimately, the court stated that given the amount of control FedEx exerted over drivers, that they were to be considered employees under Oregon and California law.
It’s good to see the Ninth Circuit interpreting the law in favor of workers. However, challenges like this are still likely to continue until the laws relating to worker classification are further clarified.