Disability Discrimination Suit Resolved for US$95,000
Employment and Workplace Issues, Respect in the Workplace

The US Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that IESI LA Corporation (IESI) will pay US$95,000 to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit brought against it by the EEOC. IESI had allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it dismissed an employee truck driver, Ronald Harper, for his disability, dyslexia. Shortly before the trial, IESI admitted that Mr Harper was fully able to perform his job functions and “that the supervisor who fired Harper had failed to engage in the interactive process regarding reasonable accommodation required by federal law”. IESI is required to provide appropriate ADA training to employees, report complaints to the EEOC and allow inspection of premises to ensure compliance with the federal law.
EEOC’s media release (24 November 2010)
(Source: EEOC; ADA)

Hospitals Fined for Breaches
Privacy and Data Protection

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced that six hospitals and one nursing home will pay a total of US$792,500 in administrative penalties and fines for failing “to prevent unauthorized access to patient medical information” and thus breaching s. 1280.15 of the Health and Safety Code.

The penalties were issued to:

  • Biggs Gridley Memorial Hospital, Gridley, Butte County;
  • Children’s Hospital of Orange, Orange, Orange County;
  • Delano Regional Medical Center, Delano, Kern County;
  • Kaweah Manor Convalescent Hospital, Visalia, Tulare County;
  • Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, Kern County, for two separate breaches;
  • Oroville Hospital, Oroville, Butte County; and
  • Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles County.

CDPH’s media release (19 November 2010)

Related news item:
Los Angeles Times: Six California hospitals fined for medical record security breaches (19 November 2010)
(Source: CPDH; California Law; Los Angeles Times)

Biggest Copyright Damages Awarded
Confidentiality and Intellectual Property

Bloomberg reports that SAP AG has been ordered to pay Oracle Corp (Oracle) US$1.3 billion in copyright infringement damages for “illegal downloads” and copying of Oracle’s software, aimed at stealing customers and avoiding licensing fees. The award is reportedly the “largest US jury award for 2010″, and the highest for copyright infringement. 
Bloomberg: Oracle Wins $1.3 Billion Verdict for Closed SAP Unit’s Illegal Downloading (24 November 2010)
(Source: Bloomberg)

GM’s Clean Energy Initiative
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

The Climate Group has welcomed General Motors’ (GM) announcement that its Chevrolet brand will invest US$40 million in “clean energy projects” across the US, in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8 million metric tons. The energy investments may include:

  • providing school and community facilities with solar panels, energy sensors and other energy efficient technology to reduce emissions and heating bills;
  • supporting renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar projects;
  • “Capturing flammable methane from community landfills that delivers clean energy to the grid and improves local air quality and safety”; and
  • supporting forestry projects.

GM has decreased its manufacturing emissions by 60% since 1990, has invested millions in the building of fuel-efficient vehicles such the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and the Chevy Volt electric car, and also reduced its water consumption by almost 35% between 2005 and 2009. GM is putting together a group of advisors through the Climate Neutral Business Network, which comprises leading environmentalists and policy experts, to guide the program.
The Climate Group’s media release (23 November 2010)
GM’s media release (18 November 2010)
(Source: The Climate Group: GM)

Pfizer to Pay Punitive Damages
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Health, Safety and Environment

Bloomberg reports that the Nevada Supreme Court has upheld a jury’s decision that Pfizer Inc (Pfizer) hid breast-cancer risks associated with Pfizer’s menopause drugs Premarin and Prempro. More than 6 million women reportedly took the pills for menopause symptoms such as “hot flashes and mood swings” prior to the above discovery. Reportedly, the jury awarded three women US$134.1 million which was reduced to US$58 million by the trial judge. 
Bloomberg: Pfizer Loses Appeal of $58 Million Prempro Jury Award (25 November 2010)
(Source: Bloomberg)