Source: Joel P. Rudin and Kathryn L. Gover, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 58 no. 1, Spring 2007
In this article, we first discuss the unstructured interview, which is the most common hiring technique. Cognitive ability tests provide a demonstrably better alternative causing less disparate impact. Then we turn to informal mentoring, the most common promotion technique. Assessment centers provide a demonstrably better alternative causing less disparate impact. There appears to be no basis in the law allowing employers with disparate impact, either in hiring through unstructured interviews or promotion through informal mentoring, to refuse to adopt these alternatives.
Source: Ellen Dannin, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 58 no. 1, Spring 2007
…The at-will regime does not exclude judges from examining (or “second guessing”) employer decisions. In addition… it ill serves employers. If this is true, then it ill serves our economy and our national interests. …There is no empirical evidence that at-will employment has a positive effect on our economy. There is evidence that an at-will employment regime does not prevent litigation. In fact, there is no evidence that an at-will regime results in less litigation than a just-cause employment regime. There are reasons to believe that employers would be better off as managers with a just-cause employment regime. Finally, but more theoretical, there is a cost to society from maintaining at-will.
Source: Hewitt Associates: Frank McArdle, Amy Atchison, and Dale Yamamoto, Kaiser Family Foundation: Michelle Kitchman Strollo and Tricia Neuman, Findings from the Kaiser/Hewitt 2006 Survey on Retiree Health Benefits, December 2006
Employers continue to play an important role in providing health insurance coverage for pre-65 and age 65+ (Medicare-eligible) retirees. Employer-sponsored plans help bridge the gap in coverage for workers and spouses who retire before they turn age 65 and are eligible for Medicare. Today, an estimated 3.8 million early retirees (ages 55 to 64) and dependents receive health coverage from an employer or union. Without these benefits, early retirees often face significant challenges finding affordable coverage in the individual market, leading some to return to the workforce to gain access to health insurance. Employer plans also provide highly-valued supplemental benefits to more than 12 million retirees now on Medicare. For retirees on Medicare, employer plans remain an important source of prescription drug coverage, and provide additional cost-sharing protections, including limits on retirees’ out-of-pocket expenses.
Source: Craig Palosky, Larry Levitt, and Maurissa Kanter, Kaiser Family Foundation, Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Out-of-Pocket Costs for Retirees Continue to Rise for Employer Health Coverage
About One in 10 Firms Eliminate Retiree Health Benefits for Future Retirees
As the new Medicare drug benefit nears its second year, nearly eight in 10 large employers expect to continue to offer drug coverage to their retirees and accept subsidies from the federal government to offset some of those costs, according to a new survey of 302 large private-sector employers conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates.
Source: Sharon Parrott and Matt Fiedler, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 8, 2007
Under the Administration’s budget, domestic discretionary programs — the programs that are funded each year through the annual appropriations process, other than defense and international programs — are slated for sizable reductions over the next five years. The budget calls for these cuts to start in 2008, when domestic discretionary programs as a whole would be funded below a freeze of the levels provided for 2007 in the full-year continuing resolution now moving through Congress.[i] The cuts would then grow deeper each year after 2008, and would come from almost every part of the domestic budget. The largest cuts would come in 2012, when domestic programs would be cut $34 billion, or 7.6 percent, relative to the 2007 funding level, adjusted for inflation.
Source: Iris J. Law, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 6, 2007
Grants to state and local governments have long been an important way in which the federal government supports and administers programs efficiently. The new budget, however, continues to significantly erode those grants. This leaves states and localities the option of either curtailing services or increasing their own taxes to compensate for declining federal funds.
Source: Arthur Holdsworth, Government Finance Review, Vol. 23 no. 1, February 2007
Interjurisdictional cooperation is becoming more common, but there are pros and cons. Evaluating cooperative initiatives should begin with a thorough and clear-cut feasibility study addressing the concerns of all parties.
Source: John Straayer, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 3, March 2007
Through the initiative process, Colorado recently passed a law with loads of unintended consequences.
Colorado’s Amendment 41 carried the short title, “Standards of Conduct in Government,” and passed with 62.6 percent of the vote. A constitutional amendment, 41 was intended to restrict gift-giving by interest groups and lobbyists to elected public officials and others in positions of public trust. It was also designed to prevent legislators from immediately becoming lobbyists after their terms of office.
But its consequences to date include issuance of official opinions to the effect that scholarships for children of public employees and performance awards for employees are probably illegal; the resignation of more than a half-dozen legislators; questions as to whether the newly elected governor may legally recruit legislators for positions in his cabinet; and the curtailment of Capitol breakfasts, which had been enjoyed by legislators, staffers and student interns for decades.
Source: Alissa Johnson, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 3, March 2007
Even though the legal landscape has changed, concerns about the abuse of genetic testing persist.
Is your genetic information safe? Sixteen years have passed since Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson signed the first state law to prevent genetic discrimination in March 1991. A tidal wave of genetics legislation followed, propelled by the anticipated completion of the Human Genome Project to sequence and map the genes that make up a human being. Public fears continue, however, over the possible abuse of genetic testing technology.
Source: Linda Sikkema and Melissa Savage, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 3, March 2007
As the Federal government wrestles with its role in controlling greenhouse gasses, one state hasn’t hesitated to attack global warming.
Massachusetts is suing the Environmental Protection Agency to force regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in a case that is before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether the Clean Air Act requires EPA to control these gases, which contribute to global warming. States are split on either side of the issue in Massachusetts v. EPA, with 11 states siding with Massachusetts and 10 with the federal government.