A federal appeals court has ruled that a hospital is not required to accommodate the restrictions on a nurse’s working environment brought about by her drug dependency. In the written opinion of the case, the court noted that “Dovenmuehler’s case is unique because her claimed disability has a peculiar feature. Certain behavior, while consistent with her claimed disability, also happens to be illegal. Such conduct is not protected by the ADA.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on the Bush administration’s use of the state secrets privilege. Under the privilege, the government can keep information from becoming public if it believes that the data will harm national security. Witnesses at the hearing discussed the concept of privilege as well as a bill (S. 2533) introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) that would require that the executive branch obtain court approval from a federal court each time it invokes the state secrets privilege in a civil action to prevent information from being released. Under the measure, the executive branch would also be required to provide a report to Congress on each item within 30 days of invoking the privilege.
A bill (H.R. 660) that would increase courthouse security has been signed into law (P.L. 110-218). The law requires that the U.S. Marshals Service offer ongoing security advice to the judiciary. It authorizes additional funding to hire marshals to protect courthouses. In addition, the law makes it illegal to publicly disclose restricted personal information about a federal officer, witness, or juror with the intent to harm such individual. The law also makes it illegal to bring into the courtroom any item that could be used as a dangerous weapon.
A bill (H.R. 3916) introduced by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) that would encourage the development of new border security technology has been approved by the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. Under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be required to spell out the requirements, expected use, and operational concept of any new border or maritime security technology.
An amendment, introduced by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), that would improve oversight of the FBI National Name Check Program has been included in the appropriation bill for the Department of Homeland Security, which has been signed into law (P.L. 110-161).
A bill (H.R. 3685) introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation has been approved by the House of Representatives. The Senate has agreed to consider the measure.
A bill (S.274) introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) that would expand protection for government whistleblowers has been approved by the Senate. The House of Representatives has not indicated whether it will consider the bill.
A bill (H.B. 9) currently pending in the New Mexico Legislature would establish a task force to study the use of technology by stalkers. The findings would be used to develop new laws to combat the crime.
A bill (S.B. 1357) introduced in the Idaho Senate would amend existing identity theft laws to add a new crime. Under the bill, enhanced penalties would be assessed if a person used false pretenses or misrepresentations to facilitate identity theft.
A federal district court has ruled that a company cannot compel plaintiffs in a discrimination case to produce their medical and psychological records. The court also ruled that plaintiffs did not have to provide arrest records as requested by the defense. The court pointed out that this request was especially egregious because the company did not conduct background checks on applicants to screen for prior arrests.
The California Supreme Court has ruled that a company that fired an employee for medical marijuana use did not discriminate against the worker. The court noted that nothing in the state law making medical marijuana use legal indicated that it was applicable to the workplace.
The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an interagency mechanism created to coordinate federal intellectual-property-theft investigative efforts, has not achieved its mission, says a Government Accountability Office report.
Researchers have found that most people will omit the truth rather than tell an outright lie. People will also choose words that camouflage the truth without knowing that they are leaving behind clues for investigators to piece together, according to a recent FBI bulletin.
States are continuing to explore ways to secure electronic voting after a New York University study found that electronic voting machines could be compromised, with software attacks easiest to pull off.
An organization cannot halt an internal investigation once a federal discrimination suit has been filed, an appellate court said, because it constitutes retaliation against the employee who made the complaint.