Saturday, July 31, 2010

An Employee by Any Other Name: The Thorny Side of Misclassification

/24-7/ -- The Hill's Congress Blog reports that there were an estimated 10 million misclassified workers in 2006, according to the Governmental Accountability Office. In a recent statement, Senator Tom Harkin cites Department of Labor statistics estimating that 30 percent of businesses misclassified employees as independent contractors. "That means the construction worker who falls and breaks his leg is denied workers' compensation, and the truck driver who works 60 hours a week doesn't receive the overtime pay his family deserves to help cover the rising costs of food and energy," says Harkin.

Employee Misclassification and the IRS

According to the IRS, determination of employee or independent contractor status requires examination of the degree of control and independence the worker is granted, with special consideration given to behavioral or financial control exerted by the hiring entity and the general type of relationship between the parties. The hiring party's classification is not definitive; for example, a trucking company may classify workers as independent contractors. However, if the company trains its drivers, owns the trucks or otherwise controls the way in which drivers complete their runs, the drivers may actually be employees, notwithstanding the employer's attempted classification.

Effects of Employee Misclassification

Misclassifying employees as independent contractors strips employees of their rights and protections, including labor protections such as minimum wage guarantees and overtime protection. Employers misclassify employees to avoid costs associated with employees, such as Social Security and Medicare payments, vacation, sick leave, pensions and, importantly, avoidance of workers' compensation costs. For example, a construction employer may attempt to classify roofers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying workers' compensation premiums and to escape liability for workplace injury or disability claims in the event an employee were to fall and get hurt.

Additionally, misclassification hurts honest employers. A representative of the Mason Contractors Association of America estimates that companies that misclassify their employees may reduce labor costs up to 30 percent. This allows dishonest employers an unfair advantage when bidding for jobs.

Senator Sherrod Brown has introduced the Employee Misclassification Prevention Act to prevent employer misconduct. In the meantime, truckers, roofers or other workers who have been injured in the course of their work should contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney. Although companies may have treated these workers as independent contractors, under other interpretations, they may actually be considered full time employees, eligible for workers' compensation benefits. An experienced attorney can advise them of their rights and protect their interests in the administrative process if they are eligible to file work comp claims.

Article provided by OhioBWCAttorney.com

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Georgia Department of Banking and Finance Takes Possession of Crescent Bank and Trust Company, Jasper, Georgia

The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance (“Department”) took possession of Crescent Bank and Trust Company, Jasper, Georgia on July 23, 2010. The Superior Court of Pickens County issued an Order appointing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) as Receiver of the Bank effective upon the Department taking possession of Crescent Bank and Trust Company.

The Department took possession of Crescent Bank and Trust Company pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia, Section 7-1-150(a) which authorizes the Department in its discretion to take possession of the business and property of any state chartered financial institution whenever such financial institution is either insolvent or operating in an unsafe or unsound condition to transact its business, is operating in violation of any court order, statute, rule or regulation, or requests the Department to take possession of its business and property.

Through an agreement with the FDIC, Crescent Bank and Trust Company will be acquired by Renasant Bank, Tupelo, Mississippi.

All deposit accounts of Crescent Bank and Trust Company have been transferred to Renasant Bank and will be available immediately. Depositors will be able to access their accounts at the former main office and branch locations of Crescent Bank and Trust Company during regular business hours. Additionally, the former depositors of Crescent Bank and Trust Company can continue to access their accounts through automated teller machine transactions, checks and debit transactions.

All deposits will be transferred to Renasant Bank and, therefore, it is not anticipated that there will be any loss exposure to former Crescent Bank and Trust Company depositors that have deposits exceeding the FDIC Deposit Insurance amounts.

The Department’s Commissioner, Robert M. Braswell, reminds depositors that deposits of all Georgia banks are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000. Special rules are in place for accounts held in trust status and joint accounts that may further expand deposit insurance coverage. You can find additional information on FDIC Deposit Insurance at www.fdic.gov.

The FDIC has established a website and a toll-free phone number to answer questions from depositors, creditors and other interested parties regarding the receivership of Crescent Bank and Trust Company. Please refer to the FDIC’s website for further information regarding the details of the purchase and assumption transaction. The website is www.fdic.gov and the toll-free phone number is 1-800-523-8177. The phone number is operational this evening until 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. and thereafter from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Lockheed Martin Marietta Facility Kicks Off F-35 Lightning II Center Wing Assembly Production

/PRNewswire/ -- Officials at the Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) facility here formally announced the start of F-35 Lightning II center wing production operations at the plant during a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday.

Actual center wing assembly work for the multi-role 5th generation aircraft will begin July 30 in the Marietta site's massive B-1 aircraft production building. The F-35 work area will occupy more than 320,000 square feet, and the assembly activity is projected to employ more than 600 workers by 2016 as the program ramps up to full-rate production of one aircraft per workday.

The F-35 is a true international program with eight countries partnering with the U.S. to develop and produce the aircraft. Final assembly of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter takes place at the Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Establishing the program's center wing assembly operation in Marietta helps alleviate capacity constraints at the Fort Worth location while taking advantage of available manufacturing capacity and 5th generation aircraft production expertise the Marietta site offers.

"This is a very proud day for us in Marietta as we begin to support production of the largest military aircraft acquisition program in history," said Lee Rhyant, executive vice president and general manager of the Lockheed Martin Marietta site. "We have state-of-the-art facilities, and our workers have the skill, the dedication and even the 5th generation fighter expertise to build this critical component. We're ready to support the F-35 now and in the future; it's time to get to work."

According to Larry Lawson, executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 program for Lockheed Martin, the Marietta center wing assembly operation will play an important role in meeting customers' needs for an affordable, high-quality product.

"Marietta's available facilities, tooling and worker experience with the F-22 are key enablers for F-35 program production," said Lawson. "The operations here will help us realize greater efficiencies, deliver quality and meet F-35 production rates."

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, advanced sustainment and lower operational and support costs. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. For more information on the F-35 program, visit http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/f35/.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

NLRB: Atlanta Coca-Cola Enterprise Employees to Get Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Back Pay

/PRNewswire/ -- In a victory for Atlanta Coca-Cola Enterprise workers seeking to form a union with the Teamsters, the National Labor Relations Board has approved a settlement that will grant thousands of dollars of wage adjustments for hourly employees at CCE's Marietta bottling plant that will be paid dating back to April 2, 2010.

Coca-Cola also agreed to refrain from committing a series of unfair labor practice violations against the approximately 340 workers at its Marietta, College Park and Atlanta West facilities. For more than a year, these Atlanta-area CCE workers have been trying to form a union with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The NLRB has required Coca-Cola to post a notice to employees stating the company will not interfere with their right to form a union, grant the retroactive raise to the Marietta employees, and rescind an unjust discipline issued to a key union activist.

"We're pleased that the NLRB has intervened to help negotiate an agreement with Coca-Cola Enterprises," said Randy Brown, President of Teamsters Local 728 in Atlanta. "We hope these workers can proceed with their organizing campaign free from intimidation, threats and broken promises, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome them as Teamsters."

"We are so excited by this settlement. It shows that we have power when we stand together. But the big goal is to win permanent change through a Teamster contract," said Delorace McFadden, a CCE worker and an Organizing Committee member. "We will not stop until the job is done."

The Teamsters currently represent more than 14,000 Coca-Cola employees throughout the United States.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Tyco Safety Products Opens Distribution Center in Douglas County

Leading manufacturer employs 125

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that Tyco Safety Products opened a new distribution facility in Lithia Springs in Douglas County, employing 125 workers. The company chose Georgia after a multi-state search, and today celebrated the official grand opening at the new facility.

“We are honored that Tyco has chosen to expand its presence in Georgia with this new facility,” said Governor Perdue. “Georgia’s comprehensive logistics system is one of our key selling assets because it gives companies like Tyco easy, efficient access to their markets.”

The new 205,000-square foot facility serves as a hub for distributing Tyco’s fire detection, fire suppression and electronic security products to its domestic and global customers.

“We’re excited to establish this operation here in Douglas County,” said Dale Doss, Director of Distribution for Tyco Safety Products. “The new facility has state-of-the-art logistics technology and a team of motivated employees focused on providing the best possible service to our customers across the United States and around the world. We appreciate the cooperation of Douglas County and their assistance with launching our new facility.”

The Development Authority of Douglas County assisted Tyco with its expansion. Project manager Andrew Neumann worked with the company on behalf of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“Tyco is one of our outstanding corporate citizens, and we are very pleased that they chose to expand their operations in Douglas County,” said Tom Worthan, Douglas County commission chairman. “The new jobs are very much appreciated by us and are another indication to everyone that Douglas County is open for business.”

About Tyco 
Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE: TYC) is a diversified, global company that provides vital products and services to customers around the world. Tyco is a leading provider of security products and services, fire protection and detection products and services, valves and controls, and other industrial products. Tyco had 2009 revenue of more than $17 billion and has more than 100,000 employees worldwide. More information on Tyco can be found at www.tyco.com.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Congress Extends Transition Deadline for Gift Card Rules

/PRNewswire/ -- The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA) applauds Congress for passing H.R. 5502, the ECO-Gift CARD Act, which will avoid the needless destruction of over 100 million plastic cards and ensure consumer access to these popular gifts during the busy holiday shopping season. The act extends the August 22nd gift card implementation deadline, as mandated by Federal Reserve regulations pursuant to the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, to Jan. 31, 2011. This would allow the industry to sell existing gift cards, gift certificates, store gift cards and general-use prepaid cards produced prior to April 1, 2010, provided they comply with new rules regarding five year expiration of funds, conspicuous disclosures and fees.

"We want to praise members of Congress for recognizing the critical need for this legislation and voting in favor of its passage. This is a win-win for the environment, retailers, industry and most importantly consumers," said Kirsten Trusko, NBPCA President and Executive Director. "The ECO-Gift Card Act makes no change to the CARD Act rules, it simply keeps gift cards on the shelves for consumers this holiday season by not requiring the destruction and replacement of existing gift card inventory. It also avoids disruption to consumers and retailers during the busiest shopping season of the year when 90% of all gift card sales occur. NBPCA fully supports the new gift card rules, which many of our members have already implemented," added Trusko.

The ECO-Gift Card Act or HR 5502 sponsored by Reps. Dan Maffei (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Mike McMahon (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Kevin McCarthy (R- CA) was introduced in the House on June 10, 2010 and passed unanimously 357-0 on June 14th. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), David Vitter (R-LA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) worked diligently to gain support for the bill, which was passed in the Senate July 13, 2010 by unanimous consent.

During the six month transition period and beyond, card issuers must notify consumers of their rights through in store signage, customer service numbers, websites, general press and advertising. Millions of consumers, businesses and governments use prepaid cards every day because they are a convenient, economical and secure payment tool.

The ECO-Gift Card makes no change to the CARD Act. Consumers who purchase old gift card stock currently in stores during the transition period will receive the full benefits of the new rules. NBPCA fully supports these new regulations, some of which include:

-- No service fees such as ATM or reload fees can be charged until one
year after inactivity and then only one fee per month may be charged.
-- Gift cards will have expiration dates of 5 years from the last load.
-- Free replacement cards must be provided or issuers can give the
remaining balance to the cardholder.
-- Disclosure requirements must be made on the cards including fees,
expiration date, toll free number and website where consumers can get
information.
-- Pre-disclosures regarding fees and expirations must be disclosed prior
to purchase and may not be changed after purchase.



NBPCA remains committed to supporting a regulatory framework where there are fewer, not more, barriers preventing consumers from accessing sound financial services products which best meet their individual needs. The prepaid card industry continues to experience exponential growth across all channels from gift cards and payroll cards to health and general purpose reloadable cards because consumers remain highly satisfied with the products, their ease of use and affordability.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Noble Investment Group Acquires the Holiday Inn Charleston Historic District and Plans to Convert Asset to a Courtyard by Marriott

Also acquires adjacent land and secures entitlements for expansion of guest rooms and meeting space

Privately held Noble Investment Group (“Noble”), today announced the acquisition of the award winning, 126-room Holiday Inn Charleston Historic District prominently located at the intersection of Calhoun and Meeting streets. Noble concurrently acquired an adjacent land parcel and has obtained entitlements to add 50 hotel guest rooms and 2,500 square feet of meeting space to the existing asset. Noble will complete the guest rooms and meeting space expansion in tandem with a comprehensive renovation of the current hotel. In 2011, the hotel will be re-branded as the Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Historic District with 176 guest rooms and 5,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Charleston peninsula combines three centuries of development density, limited land area, the oversight of America’s oldest historic preservation society, and a regulatory environment that does not encourage additional hotel development.

“Our team sourced and will execute an investment that combines the integral value-add components of a consistently strong demand market with inordinately high barriers to entry, topmost location within a market, and our ability to significantly enhance performance through physical repositioning and re-branding,” said Rodney Williams, Noble’s chief investment officer and a managing principal.

The award winning hotel was named “Best Hidden Gem” by Trip Advisor and embodies the local southern traditions featuring wooden rocking chairs on the porch, landscaped courtyard and water fountain, year-round outdoor heated pool, fitness center and the Battery Grill restaurant.

“Our multi-pronged investment strategy that includes an expanded and renovated hotel, will allow our operations team to drive substantial upside in market share, revenues and profitability,” said Bob Morse, Noble’s chief operating officer and a managing principal.

Bill Moeckel of Moeckel & Company advised the Seller on the transaction.

About Noble Investment Group

Founded in 1993, the Noble organization specializes in the lodging and hospitality real estate sector. Through its private equity real estate funds, Noble has invested more than $1.6 billion in hotels and resorts throughout the United States and the organization's current discretionary private equity fund represents $310 million of equity commitments. An award winning operator, Noble currently manages more than 9,000 hotel and resort guest rooms throughout the United States, most of which are affiliated with Marriott, Hyatt, Starwood, Hilton, and InterContinental Hotels Group. In addition, Noble operates convention and conference centers with more than one million square feet of meeting space, day and resort spas, upscale restaurants, and is a franchisee of Starbucks Coffee retail stores. For more information, please visit www.nobleinvestment.com

Sports Illustrated and Turner Sports Form New Digital Partnership

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Time Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.) announced the formation of a strategic digital partnership between Turner Sports and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to create one of the world’s most exciting sports destinations on the web. The agreement aligns two of Time Warner’s primary sports assets, capitalizing on each company’s core strengths to create an online sports powerhouse with new revenue and marketing opportunities for both portfolios.

“The deal also provides greater opportunity for advertisers to expand their reach and activate innovative marketing opportunities to access more potential consumers across multiple platforms. By leveraging Turner’s vast digital sports and entertainment portfolio, we expect to provide additional display, sponsorship and video advertising opportunities for SI.com and Golf.com.”

The combination marries the wealth of stories, perspective and photos from SI with Turner’s digital media and sales expertise, resources, video sports rights and video production. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will create all editorial content across each of its platforms: the flagship magazine, its websites, mobile and the recently launched -- and widely acclaimed -- tablet version of the magazine.

Under the new agreement, Turner Sports will be responsible for business and technical operations, ad sales, product management and marketing for SI.com and Golf.com, which will be added to Turner’s portfolio of 19 digital sports and entertainment sites. The two organizations will collaborate on multiplatform sales across their collective properties. Additionally, Turner and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will collaborate on the production of new mobile products and applications.

“The Sports Illustrated brand and award winning journalists complement and enhance Turner’s portfolio of sports offerings and reflects our combined commitment to bring fans greater content across a multitude of platforms,” said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. “The deal also provides greater opportunity for advertisers to expand their reach and activate innovative marketing opportunities to access more potential consumers across multiple platforms. By leveraging Turner’s vast digital sports and entertainment portfolio, we expect to provide additional display, sponsorship and video advertising opportunities for SI.com and Golf.com.”

“SI’s journalism already powers extremely successful digital platforms that lead in every category from breaking news to community, creative design, info graphics and photography,” said Terry McDonell, Editor of The Sports Illustrated Group. “That makes this partnership the next step in an evolution for both SI digital and Turner that will make both stronger. Our brands will click naturally and strategically into place and everyone will win.”

Turner Sports brings renowned digital media capabilities and has successfully partnered with leagues to create compelling fan experiences and businesses. SI.com and Golf.com complement Turner Sports’ robust digital portfolio it manages, which includes the NBA Digital portfolio, NASCAR.COM, tbs Hot Corner on MLB.com, PGATOUR.COM and PGA.com, as well as a strategic relationship with Yahoo! Sports. In addition to its digital portfolio Turner Sports broadcasts a number of events year round on TBS, TNT and truTV, including the NBA, MLB, NASCAR, the PGA Championships and, beginning in 2011, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

The Sports Illustrated Group’s award-winning journalism powers a media company that includes Sports Illustrated, SI.com, Golf Magazine, Golf.com, SI Golf Plus, SI Presents, SI Kids, SI International, SI Books, SI Mobile, SI Swimsuit, consumer products and experiential marketing. Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated was named to Adweek’s list of the industry’s hottest brands. Also in 2010, SI.com received a National Magazine Award for its NFL coverage, Editor & Publisher named SI.com the best sports website with over 1MM unique visitors and SI.com was a Webby Award finalist in the category of best sports website. The partnership with Turner Sports creates numerous opportunities to leverage these properties across a broader audience.

Time Inc., a Time Warner company, is a world class branded content company, investing in the future and engaging more than 138 million consumers monthly; whenever, however, and wherever they are. With 22 magazines and 26 web sites in the U.S., it is the country’s largest consumer publisher. Each month, one out of every two American adults reads a Time Inc. magazine, and one out of every five, who are online, visits a company web site (more than 52 million monthly unique visitors). Time Inc.’s popular brands and successful franchises extend to online, television, mobile devices, events and branded products.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Justice Department Files a Lawsuit Alleging Employment Discrimination by Georgia Rug Manufacturer and Seller

/PRNewswire/ -- The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against Garland Sales Inc., a rug manufacturer and seller located in Dalton, Ga., alleging it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by imposing unnecessary and discriminatory hurdles to employment for work authorized individuals.

According to the department's findings, Garland required all non-U.S. citizen applicants to present certain work authorization documents. The Immigration and National Act (INA) requires that employers not impose different or greater employment eligibility verification (I-9) standards on non-citizen authorized workers as compared to U.S. citizens. Garland imposed different and greater requirements on non-U.S. citizens as compared to applicants who were U.S. citizens.

Moreover, the department found that Garland retaliated against a limited English proficient naturalized U.S. citizen, when it rescinded a job offer. Specifically, Garland requested the individual produce a "Green Card" (Form I-551 Resident Alien Card), which the applicant did not have because he is a U.S. Citizen. When the applicant did not produce this document and voiced concern about being asked to produce it, Garland withdrew his offer of employment.

"The INA's anti-discrimination provision makes it illegal to impose different rules for establishing work authorization based on actual or perceived citizenship status," said Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division. "Our Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is acting now to remedy this illegal pattern or practice of discrimination."

The lawsuit charging Garland was filed in the department's Executive Office for Immigration Review - Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO).

The Civil Rights Division's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA, which protect U.S. citizens and certain work-authorized individuals from citizenship status discrimination. The INA also protects all work-authorized individuals from national origin discrimination, over-documentation in the employment eligibility verification process, and retaliation.

Earlier this month, OSC entered into an out-of-court settlement with Macy's department stores to settle allegations that a store in Orlando, Fla., committed document abuse and discriminated against a legal permanent resident by requesting more work authorization documents than are required to establish eligibility under the Form I-9. As part of the settlement, Macy's has agreed to train its human resources employees in its Orlando area stores about federal protections for workers against citizenship status and national origin discrimination, and properly conducting the employment verification process.

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