In a recent suit, the Washington appeals court ruled that a background check company is not liable for inaccurate information, unless that info is delivered with malice or the willful intent to injure the applicant.
In Van Hoven v. Pre-Employee.com Inc, applicant Shawn Van Hoven received a conditional offer of employment from Central Washington Hospital after indicating on his application that he had never been convicted of any crime.
The hospital HR Director hired Pre-Employee.com, Inc to perform a background check on Van Hoven. The company reported that Van Hoven had been convicted of marijuana possession and of attempted possession of drug paraphernalia. This report was inaccurate, and was later changed to show that the charge of marijuana possession was dropped. Van Hoven had been convicted of attempted possession of drug paraphernalia several years earlier.
When the background check was discussed with Van Hoven, he did not deny a conviction on either charge or try to dispute the inaccurate information provided. Because Van Hoven had lied (more…)
Tragically, heat-related illnesses in the workplace can result in disability and even death.
Employees should take these precautions when working outdoors, especially in hot, sunny conditions:
Drink as much as one cup of water every 15 minutes
Know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness
Pace your work and take breaks.
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals
The same precautions apply when employees work indoors without air conditioning, especially in industries involving heat such as factories and restaurant kitchens.
Heat-related illness can cause serious medical conditions, including disability and death.
The L&I emphasizes that Washington employers are required to provide safe working conditions for employees, including protection from heat-related illness.
Supervisors and workers should be trained to recognize the symptoms of heat stress and to respond. During especially hot weather, employees may need to take rest breaks as frequently as every hour. If possible, breaks should be taken in an air-conditioned location such as a building or vehicle.
Workers suffering from heat stress may be disoriented and unable to summon help. For that reason, employees should never work alone in hot weather. Employers should use the buddy system, with employees charged with the responsibility of watching out for each other. Employees should also be trained in responding to heat stress and heat stroke, including giving the worker extra liquids, cooling them off in an air-conditioned location, and summoning professional help.
More information and resources regarding outdoor heat exposure are available.
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao recently said, “Community colleges are in a unique position to prepare local workers for careers in high-growth industries. The $125 million awarded today will expand enrollment in education and training programs and provide more workers with the skills they need to succeed.”
Secretary Chao was talking about a number of US Department of Labor job-training grants, including two that go to Washington. Community colleges in Bellevue and Bellingham recently received more than $3.6 million to train workers (more…)
OSHA warns employers to take steps to prevent violence in the workplace.
In a frightening incident this month, an armed man terrorized employees at a Kmart store in Whatcom County, Washington. The man stole a gun from the retailer, then ran through the store screaming and knocking over employees on February 14. The man is described as a white male in his mid-twenties.
The man held a knife to the store manager’s throat before smashing a display case to steal a gun an ammo.
Outside the store, the man confronted a police officer, but stopped short of aiming the gun at anyone. The man threatened to kill himself if apprehended.
While there is no conclusive evidence yet, it appears that the man may have been under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both.
When employers think of the potential for violence in the workplace, they usually focus on late-night robberies of convenience stores, not mid-morning robberies of suburban discount stores.
But, as this incident proves, every employer needs to be prepared for violence in the workplace.
Workplace violence in Washington and across the U.S. is one of OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) primary concerns. Unfortunately, homicides are a large component of violence on the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2006, 94 murders occurred in the workplace. The number has decreased from over 200 homicides in the early 1990s, but murder is still a major factor.
Over 2 million Americans are victims of violence in the workplace every year. OSHA suggests several ways to help prevent this violence, which OSHA defines as threats, verbal abuse, assaults, physical abuse and homicide. These recommendations include installing security systems, extra lights and video surveillance cameras.
In addition to installing safety equipment, companies should install an antiviolence program into the safety plan. Employers should also provide training for workers on how to understand the program and how to react in violent situations. Putting the program details in writing in the employee handbook is a good way to ensure all workers receive the information.
Employers should also be aware that certain occupations are at higher risk for workplace violence. All workers who deal with the public, especially regarding money, and in high crime areas, and alone late at night, are at increased risk. Healthcare workers and other employees who provide social services also experience a higher risk of violence on the job. Statistics show that nurses are assaulted on the job as often as police officers. Most of the attacks occur in hospitals, but can also happen on home visits.
People who work away from an office can be faced with workplace violence, too. To help ensure their safety, these employees, such as outside salespeople, cable TV installers and utility workers, should be required to file a daily schedule with their employer, and to check in with home base on a regular basis.
When violent incidents do occur, employees should report it immediately. Companies should also investigate and remedy the problem immediately.
Streaming videos and downloads on preventing workplace violence are available from the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health).
Already this year there have been several incidents of violence in the workplace. In February a gunman killed one employee and four customers at a Lane Bryant store in Tinley Park, Illinois. Another employee was in critical condition, but able to assist the police in the investigation. The gunman herded all the women into the back room of the store and bound them with rope and duct tape. He proceeded to rob the store. When the store manager surreptitiously dialed 911, the gunman overheard the conversation and opened fire on the defenseless women.
Helping young people who are out of school
Collaborating with industry to create a workforce investment program
Leveraging partnerships between employers, educators and economic development agencies
Creating a highly-trained 21st century workforce
Training workers with special needs
This year’s big winners include groups from Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. Runners-up for the awards include agencies and companies from Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, New York, Louisiana and Minnesota.
The Recognition of Excellence awards go to the top talent development programs nationwide. This week, Assistant Secretary of Labor Emily Stover DeRocco presented the awards during the Workforce Innovations Conference. Stover DeRocco heads the department’s division of Employment and Training. This is the fourth consecutive year the awards have been used to recognize outstanding training programs in state and local government, private business, education and economic development programs. Each award represents a collaboration between two or more of those key players.
“Our honorees have shown that they are innovative leaders in providing workers with the opportunities and tools to help them compete in today’s global economy,” said DeRocco. “Their outstanding work serves as a model for others to learn from and apply to their own regional economic and talent development strategies.”
The first category is “Educating America’s 21st Century Workforce”, recognizing the top program for providing innovative and effective strategies to prepare workers for jobs requiring better skills. The winner is the Alpena Community College of Alpena, Michigan. Honorable Mentions in this category include the Junior College District of Kansas City, Missouri and the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Beaverton, Oregon.
The award for “Building an Industry/Business-Driven Workforce Investment System” goes to the program that best responds to an industry need while preparing workers for continued job growth. This award goes to Capital Workforce Partners, of Hartford Connecticut. Honorable mentions in this category include the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth’s Bureau of Workforce Programs statewide. An Honorable Mention also went to the Gulf Coast Workforce Board: the WorkSource in the Gulf Coast Region of Texas.
The third category recognizes the value of collaborations between employers, educators and economic development leaders. The e3 Partnership award goes to Eastern Kentucky C.E. P. Inc. of Hazard, Kentucky. The runner up in this category is the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gulfport, Mississippi.
The fourth category is “Recognizing the Demographics of the Workforce”. This award highlights agencies or organizations that target workers with special needs. Winners in this category provide services to workers with limited English skills, to migrant farm workers, and those who are homeless as well as others. The top award in this category goes to Experience Works, Inc. of Arlington Virginia. Honorable mentions go to the Shoreline Community College in Shoreline Washington and the Center for Employment Opportunities in New York, N.Y.
The final category is “Serving Out-of-School Youth”. Winners in this category demonstrate innovative techniques in collaborating with educators, businesses, industry and other essential partners to train, educate and hire young people who are out of school. The award goes to Workforce Connections, Inc. of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Other notable programs in this category include the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the River Paris WIA Program in Convent, Louisiana.
All of the awards were presented at a gala ceremony during the Workforce Innovations Conference, an annual event that provides an opportunity for networking on workforce issues between stakeholders in the public and private sectors.