Employment Law This Week: FTC on Big Data, DOJ/DOL on Safety Violations, External Whistleblowers, NRF Fights Scheduling - Episode 12: Week of January 25, 2016
We look at the latest trends, important court decisions, and new developments that could impact your work. Join us every Monday for a new five-minute episode!
This week’s stories include ...
(1) The FTC Releases Report on Big Data
Our top story this week - the Federal Trade Commission issues guidance on Big Data. The FTC recently provided recommendations on the use of data analytics, warning that some consumer analytics could be yielding discriminatory business practices. The guidance primarily focused on lenders but identified several areas where Big Data in employment decisions could lead to a violation. For example, if analysis determines that employees who live closer to their jobs stay at those jobs longer, a company that includes this in their hiring algorithm without accounting for racial disparity among neighborhoods could be accused of disparate treatment.
(2) New DOJ/DOL Initiative Criminalizes Worker Safety Violations
In a year when OSHA penalties are already set to increase, a new enforcement initiative is putting pressure on companies to make sure they’re compliant. The Department of Justice and the Department of Labor have teamed up to encourage federal prosecutors to pursue OSHA and other worker safety violations as environmental crimes. These crimes can be charged as felonies, while OSHA violations are considered misdemeanors. The initiative will facilitate the sharing of information and files between the DOJ and DOL to pursue criminal actions.
(3) The SEC Awards $700,000 to External Whistleblower
The SEC sends a reminder that their bounty program applies to external whistleblowers. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has awarded $700,000 to a whistleblower who was not employed by the company he exposed. The external whistleblower discovered the issue when he ran a detailed analysis on the company. The agency explained that analysis from “industry experts” is as valuable as insider information. The whistleblower program began after the Dodd-Frank Act was passed and has now yielded $55 million in awards. This latest award raises new questions, including how the SEC will define "industry experts."
(4) The NRF Urges D.C. to Toss Scheduling Law
Retailers unite against a restrictive scheduling law in Washington, D.C. The National Retail Federation issued a letter urging the city council in D.C. to abandon new scheduling legislation for retailers and restaurants. The proposed law would require businesses to post schedules three weeks in advance, with heavy penalties if they make any changes to the posted schedule. The NRF argues that this legislation removes the benefit of flexibility for employees, and that it places businesses at a competitive disadvantage against similar companies in surrounding states.
(5) In-House Counsel Tip of the Week
Louis Sapirman - VP, Associate General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer from The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation - gives some advice on how to be a driver of culture at your business.