Morning Security Brief: Workplace Discrimination, Military Suicides, Privacy, and More

By Sherry Harowitz


► Should employers be held liable for firing an employee if they had no reason to doubt the legitimate reasons put forth and did not know of any discrimination that might be an underlying cause? That's the issue facing the Supreme Court in the case Staub v. Proctor Hospital, which the court will hear this afternoon. The case involved a school employee whose time away from work to fulfill his military reservist obligations had apparently created bias among some supervisors, who gave him negative performance reports as a results. But a negative ruling in the case "could severely impact school districts because their boards rely on the recommendations and advice of superintendents and other supervisors when making decisions on individual employees," says the National School Boards Association (NSBA), which urges the court not to hold the employer liable. NSBA in an amicus brief is asking the Court to overturn the lower court ruling that a school board would be liable and, thus, would essentially be forced to independently investigate every supervisory recommendation from a school regarding an employee termination.


► The National Guard Bureau (NGB) reports on the Guard’s efforts to address the problem with suicides, which doubled from the prior year and are being called a crisis. The problem is not the stress of battle, because the majority of those committing suicide have not deployed, Army Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter told attendees at the 2010 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, according to the NGB report. To address the problem, Carpenter recommends emphasizing mental fitness along with physical fitness. He also says “Leaders should know whether troops are married or single, employed, in school and experiencing problems,” so that they can offer help. In addition, Carpenter says that the Army National Guard is stepping up its Master Resiliency Trainer (MRTs) program. Currently, there’s an MRT in every state, but the goal is to have one in every battalion and to offer resiliency training to families and family support groups.


► Elsewhere in the news: "A criminal justice blog that provides resources for difficult-to-prosecute murder cases is fighting bogus infringement claims from copyright troll Righthaven LLC and asked a Las Vegas judge Friday to dismiss Righthaven's baseless attempt to seize his domain name," reports Electronic Frontier Foundation; the site focuses on helping law enforcement with murder cases where the body has not been found. Google has settled a lawsuit concerning privacy violations that arose from one of its services called Buzz. In addition to paying the settlement, "Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web," reports Lastly, Republicans take the House, which means changing of the guard with regard to committees. For example, Peter King (R-NY3) becomes the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.




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