Real Estate Co Settles Race Discrimination and Retaliation Suit
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Employment and Workplace Issues, Respect in the Workplace

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that it has arrived at a settlement with Bankers Asset Management Inc (BAM), who has agreed to pay US$600,000 to former employees and a class of applicants. The EEOC alleged that  “the company excluded black applicants for jobs at the company’s Little Rock location based upon their race” and “retaliated against other employees and former employees for opposing or testifying about the race discrimination, by demoting and forcing one out of her job and by suing others in state court”. As well as the injunctive and monetary relief, BAM must, inter alia, “provide mandatory annual three-hour training on race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] to all of its employees”, “maintain records of complaints of race and retaliation discrimination” and “provide annual reports to the EEOC regarding such complaints”.

EEOC’s media release (18 April 2012)
(Source: EEOC)

Fast Food Restaurant Franchisee Settles Sexual Harassment Suit
Employment and Workplace Issues, Respect in the Workplace

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that it has arrived at a settlement with a Burger King franchisee, Kaizen Restaurants Inc (Kaizen), after it brought a lawsuit alleging that “Kaizen allowed a supervisor to sexually harass a teen employee working at her first job”. Kaizen has “agreed to pay [the employee] [US]$150,000 and implement preventative measures”, including to “adopt a comprehensive non-discrimination policy and complaint procedure, conduct training for staff and management officials and submit semi-annual reports to the EEOC detailing any complaints of sexual harassment that may have arisen in the prior six-month period”.

EEOC’s media release (17 April 2012)
(Source: EEOC)

Canadian Mining Co Releases First Sustainability Report
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Health, Safety and Environment

Avalon Rare Metals Inc (Avalon) has made available Journey to a Sustainable Future – Corporate Sustainability Report 2011 (26 March 2012), the company’s first sustainability report. The report takes into account the framework of the Global Reporting Initiative, which “sets out the principles and performance indicators that help organi[s]ations measure and report their economic, environmental and social performance”. The report also includes Avalon’s 2012 targets as per sustainability indicators set out by the Mining Association of Canada.

Further information from Avalon
(Source: Avalon; Global Reporting Initiative; Mining Association of Canada)

Hotel Combats Carbon Footprint With Green Roof and Cogeneration System
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Health, Safety and Environment

The Hilton Hotel (Hilton) has announced that the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan has installed a green roof system to “naturally absorb airborne pollutants”, “[deflect] solar radiation and [reduce] the thermal load, reducing the energy previously expended in cooling the property”. Additionally, Hilton has said that the Cogeneration system, which uses natural gas to produce electricity and hot water, “will provide in excess of 50% of the hotel’s electrical power and over 40% of its steam consumption for heating and hot water requirements”.

Hilton’s media release (16 April 2012)
(Source: Hilton)

Misleading Advertisers Settle Trade Commission Charges
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Consumer Protection

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it has obtained a settlement order (undated) against Green Millionaire, Syndero Inc, Scott Waltz and Nigel Williams for misleading consumers. The company led “an online operation that allegedly lured consumers with a supposedly ‘free’ book falsely promising that it would show them how to power their cars and homes at no cost, and then billed them for an online magazine they never ordered”. According to the order, Green Millionaire must ensure that they disclose “the most critical terms of the negative-option program: all costs associated with it, that consumers are agreeing to pay the costs, the length of any trial period, and that consumers must cancel to avoid the charges”.

Green Millionaire is required to ensure that it has the affirmative approval of consumers before processing any billing information. Amongst other things, the defendants failed to disclose the costs associated with the e-magazine subscription program and “allegedly debited or charged consumers’ bank or credit card accounts without their consent, misrepresented the book’s contents, and used unsubstantiated endorsements”. The settlement order bars the defendants from carrying out such conduct and “making any material misrepresentation in the sale of any good or service”. According to the FTC, “[t]he order imposes a judgment of more than US$5.7 million”, which will be suspended when certain conditions are met, and “[t]he full judgment for each defendant will become due immediately if the defendant is found to have misrepresented his financial condition”.

FTC’s media release (16 April 2012)
(Source: FTC)