Employees in Rhode Island now have 3 years to file a suit under the state Civil Rights Act, instead of one. Earlier this year, the General Assembly overrode a July 2009 veto from Governor Donald Carcieri, to revise the statute.
Rhode Island prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, age, disability or country of origin. The very broad Rhode Island Civil Rights Act simply entitles individuals to “enjoy equal benefits of the law.” This is usually interpreted to mean protection from employment discrimination and retaliation, among other rights. Until recently, this law had no statute of limitations on lawsuits.
A second law, the Fair Employment Practices Act or FEPA, specifically includes a one-year statute of limitations. In 2007, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled in Horn v. Southern Union that the two laws must be consistent. Therefore, the court imposed a one-year statute of limitations on the Civil Rights Act.
The state legislature decided that the one-year statute of limitations was too narrow, and specifically passed a law giving an employee (more…)
Under the USERRA regulations, when employees return from military service, they have the right to the same job, salary and benefit that they would have had if they had remained in their civilian jobs.
There have been some changes to the Maine USERRA that employers should be aware of. These final USERRA changes were recently released by the Dept. of Labor and cover the job rights for veterans and members of the reserve and National Guard.
The USERRA stands for the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. It was instituted in 1994 to protect service members, clarify the law and improve enforcement.
Test cases have been done on vets returning to work. In several of these cases, veterans are awarded promotions that they would have received based on the length of service, if they had not served in the military. In many cases, employees are also entitled to annual cost-of-living and salary increases that they would have received had they remained working in their civilian jobs.
Due to these changes, now is a good time for employers to update their posters to make sure correct information is on display for employees.
Employees who serve are entitled to the same job, salary and benefits they would have achieved if they had remained in their civilian jobs, when they return from military service. In many cases, employees are also entitled to the annual salary increases or cost-of-living raises they would have received if they had remained working in their civilian jobs.
In several test cases, returning veterans were awarded promotions that they would have received based on length of service, if they had not served in the military.
Under the most recent USERRA regulations, federal government employees are also eligible to receive Dept. of Labor assistance in processing claims under USERRA.
A Rhode Island OSHA Alert was issued recently about a recall done in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, also known as the CPSC. Along with the two manufacturers, Troy-Bilt and Craftsman, this recall affects two brands of chainsaws that pose a safety threat to workers. In both cases, the chainsaws become difficult to control when the front plastic handle breaks while the saw is being used. Both Troy-Bilt and Craftsman voluntarily recalled these chainsaws.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects consumers from what are unreasonable risks of injury or death resulting from any of the more than 15,000 types of consumer products. The nation pays a high price for incidents resulting from consumer products. Incidents involving consumer products result in deaths, injuries and damage to property. The cost exceeds $700 billion each year. CPSC works to protect workers, consumers, families, and children from fire, chemical, mechanical, and electrical hazards posed by products.
To protect workers, employers should make certain these chainsaws are not used until they are properly fixed. A free replacement kit is available for the recalled chainsaws. To receive a kit, which includes a replacement handle and installation instructions, contact the manufacturer or OSHA.
Do not continue using the chainsaw without replacing the handle with the one included in the safety kit. Employers should make certain employees stop using the chainsaw until the new handle is in place. Workers have made reports to OSHA of incidents where they have lost control of the chainsaws after the plastic handles broke. In these incidents, one worker received severe cuts and another worker burned his fingers on the hot muffler.
Along with the two manufacturers, OSHA worked with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This agency is committed to protecting the public from possible property damage, injuries, and deaths because of incidents involving these products. Incidents with products include electrical, chemical, and mechanical hazards as well as products that can injure children. The CPSC attempts to reduce the nation’s cost due to consumer product incidents. Currently these incidents cost the nation over $700 billion each year due to deaths, injuries, and damage to property.
According to a recent Rhode Island OSHA alert, you should prepare yourself just in case there’s a worldwide influenza outbreak. This recent alert addresses the possibility of a flu epidemic or a global disease outbreak.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns that a pandemic could disrupt the global economy and possibly have a similar affect on the American population as the Spanish Flu of 1918.
A global pandemic would affect travel, trade, tourism, the food supply and consumer buying. Normal delivers of products won’t happen due to an interruption in supply chains. Grocery stores will be overwhelmed serving the many consumers who will be buying needed supplies. There might even be a shortage of certain supplies like hand sanitizer and tissues.
It would affect consumer buying in that grocery stores will be busy as consumers empty the shelves of necessary supplies. Some of the necessary supplies such as hand sanitizer and tissues could be in short supply.
It could affect food supply because normal deliveries won’t occur due to supply chain interruption. Healthcare facilities could get overcrowded. Tourism and travel would experience a steep decline because people will be avoiding contact with other people in attempt to stay healthy. (Influenza is spread through person-to-person contact.) The same holds true for businesses such as malls, restaurants and movie theaters.
An influenza outbreak would increase employee absenteeism and create ripples in the investment and financial markets.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that there is currently no new strain of influenza and no pandemic. Still the administration urges employers to be prepared. Employers play an important role in protecting the health and safety of workers. A well though out influenza plan will prevent or minimize widespread economic disruptions.
The last influenza outbreak our nation experienced occurred near the end of World War I and killed 50 to 100 million people in just 18 months. Not even this many people died in the war itself. In WWI 9 million soldiers died, as did several million civilians. The influenza pandemic was called the Spanish Flu and happened in 1918.
Drug and alcohol pose real threats to safety in the workplace. However, the danger is avoidable. Programs like the Rhode Island Drug Free Workplace Alliance is one way you as an employer can help fight the battle drug and alcohol abuse at work.
The Rhode Island Drug Free Workplace Alliance recognizes that Rhode Island employers have the power to curb the alcohol and illegal problem by teaching employees about the risks involved and persuading them to get help. The Alliance demonstrates the federal government’s willingness to work with both contractor associations and the unions in putting in place efforts like pre-hiring drug screening and random drug tests.
The Rhode Island Drug Free Workplace Alliance demonstrates how the U.S. is dedicated to a joint effort with contractor associations and unions to both protect the health and safety of workers and add value to businesses. Rhode Island employers, says OSHA, can educate employees about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and urge workers with drug and alcohol addiction to get rehabilitation assistance.
When employers help employees this way, it helps business. That’s because these avoidable dangers result in accidents, mistakes, and absenteeism. But there are other, less noticeable, costs the programs help mitigate as well. They include higher rates of sickness and downward-spiraling employee morale. Most deadly work-related car wrecks involve drug or alcohol abuse as well, according to OSHA.
Drug and alcohol abuse are avoidable dangers in the workplace, according to OSHA, which stresses that programs like the Alliance can enhance the safety of workers while protecting businesses from loss. It strongly backs drug free workplace plans like the Alliance, and notes it is particularly valuable in work places which are considered safety-sensitive – like those where machinery is being operated.
Programs like the alliance are a five-pronged attack on drug and alcohol abuse. The five are drug testing, education, training of supervisors, helping the employees with their issues, and a clear policy. OSHA stresses that programs like these must consider employee privacy rights and be reasonable in their approach.