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Radiation sources

- A Senate bill (S.1150) introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) would require that the government establish a mandatory tracking system for all radiation sources in the United States. Violators would face civil penalties.

Transportation security

- A bill (S. 1052) introduced by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AL) would require that the Homeland Security Department establish a task force that would be charged with conducting a vulnerability and risk assessment of freight and passenger rail transportation systems. Based on that assessment, the department would then be required to develop specific recommendations for improving rail security.

Counterfeit drugs

- A bill (H.R. 2345) introduced by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) is designed to combat the counterfeiting and adulteration of prescription drugs.

Police Power

- Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill (H.R. 3199) that would make the controversial provisions of the Patriot Act permanent. (These parts of the bill are set to expire at the end of the year.) For example, the bill would allow the FBI to obtain, without seeking a warrant, the financial records of individuals. It would also maintain the power of law enforcement to carry out secret warrants and covert surveillance as part of terrorism investigations. However, the bill does not provide law enforcement as much latitude as S. 1266, which was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee in June. For example, S. 1266 would make it easier for police to issue subpoenas without judicial approval in terrorism cases.

Legal Report

- An employee can sue over on-the-job horseplay, plus proposals for security officer checks, terrorism reinsurance, and more.

Legal Report

- Court cases on negligence, premises liability, and the ADA; guidelines on dealing with cancer as a disability; and legislation on water infrastructure and identity theft.

Discrimination

- The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that a company did not discriminate against a pregnant employee when it allowed her only 26 weeks of medical leave in a single year. A company policy, the 26-week rule was applied equally to all employees so it could not be considered discriminatory. In a dissenting opinion, three of the court’s seven judges claimed that the policy should be considered discriminatory because only women will be forced to use the policy for pregnancy-related conditions, thus limiting the amount of medical leave available to women. Because this situation would never apply to a male employee, the judge argued, the pregnant employee should have prevailed in the case. (Gerety v. Atlantic City Hilton Casino, New Jersey Supreme Court, No. A-33-04, 2005)

Sexual Harassment

- In the first case of its kind, the California Supreme Court has ruled that widespread sexual favoritism in the workplace can create a hostile workplace environment. While an isolated case of favoritism would not be grounds for a harassment charge, ruled the court, employees may sue if the message conveyed in the workplace is that women are sexual playthings or that they must engage in sexual conduct with supervisors to get ahead. In the case, a prison warden was conducting four simultaneous affairs and used his authority to get the women special treatment such as promotions and perks. (Miller v. Department of Corrections, Supreme Court of California, No. S114097, 2005)

Information Brokers

- The California Assembly’s Insurance Committee has voted down a bill (S.B. 550) that would have required any companies, before selling personal information to investigators, to certify the legitimacy of those clients and provide the subject of the inquiry with a copy of the information being given out.

Identity Theft

- A bill (S. 1408) that would set national standards requiring businesses to report data security breaches to its customers has been approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. tracking system for all radiation sources in the United States.

OSHA

- Several bills that would give employers more latitude in disputes with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been merged into one measure(H.R. 739) This bill has been passed by the House of Representatives and is currently pending in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.The legislation would allow employees more time to contest safety violations. Currently, employers have 15 days to contest safety violations. The bill would allow employees to exceed that 15-day time limit if the failure to contest results is from “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.”H.R. 739 would also allow employers with 100 or fewer employees and a net worth of $7 million or less to collect attorney’s fees if they prevail in a dispute with OSHA.

Sexual Harassment

- A court has ruled that an employee may proceed with assault charges as well as claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress against her employer. In the case, the employee was physically assaulted by her supervisor. After an investigation into the incident that led to the supervisor receiving sexual harassment training, the employee was forced to work for him again. After the supervisor began undermining the employee’s work, the company claimed that nothing could be done to curtail the inappropriate activity.

Alarm Monitoring

- A bill (formerly S.B. 453) signed into law by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen will require that, when responding to an alarm, monitoring companies attempt to contact the property owner twice—by telephone or other electronic means—to determine whether an alarm is valid before dispatching police. Tennessee is the second state to enact such a law. Florida passed a similar measure last year.
 




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