Second Tuesday in October is Celebrated as Ada Lovelace Day

The second Tuesday in October is traditionally celebrated as Ada Lovelace Day.

ada-lovelace-day-celebrated

World’s first programming language

In 1833 Ada Lovelace developed what was arguably the world’s first programming language, or algorithm, for mathematician and mechanical engineer Charles Babbage, who was working on two prototype computers called the Difference Engine and the Analytics Engine.

Lovelace later described her dream of a computerized world in the book Taylor’s Scientific Memoirs, regarded as one of the most visionary documents in the history of science, published in 1843. In it, Ada related the possibility of machines that can perform such abstract tasks as composing music, regardless of the complexity of the piece.

For her work, Babbage christened Lovelace “The Enchantress of Numbers.”

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NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Falls Top OSHA’s List of Top 10 Most Cited Violations

The list of most cited violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for FY 2017 remains little changed from previous years with the exception of number 9 — Fall Protection — Training Requirements. The ten are:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 6,072 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 4,176
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451): 3,288
  4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 3,097
  5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,877
  6. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,241
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 2,162
  8. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,933
  9. Fall Protection – Training Requirements: 1,523
  10. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305): 1,405

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NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Interim Final Rules Provide Religious, Moral Exemptions to Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor this week announced two companion interim final rules that provide conscience protections to Americans who have a religious or moral objection to paying for health insurance that covers contraceptive/abortifacient services.

Obamacare-compliant health insurance plans are required to cover “preventive services,” a term defined through regulation. Under the existing regulatory requirements created by the previous administration, employers, unless they qualify for an exemption, must offer health insurance that covers all FDA-approved contraception, which includes medications and devices that may act as abortifacients as well as sterilization procedures.

Under the first of two companion rules released Oct.6, entities that have sincerely held religious beliefs against providing such services would no longer be required to do so. The second rule applies the same protections to organizations and small businesses that have objections on the basis of moral conviction which is not based in any particular religious belief.

In May, President Trump issued an “Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” in which the president directed the secretaries of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury to consider amending existing regulations relative to Obamacare’s preventive-care mandate in order to address conscience-based objections.

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NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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HHS Seeks Comments on Draft of New Five-Year Plan

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a draft of its required five-year strategic plan, and it is asking for public comments.

Draft HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022

The draft HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018 – 2022 is provided as part of the strategic planning process under the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRA-MA)(P.L. 111-352) to ensure that agency stakeholders are given an opportunity to comment on this plan. The strategic planning consultation process is an opportunity for the department to refine and strengthen the HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018 – 2022. The department has made significant progress in its strategic and performance planning efforts. As we build on this progress, we look forward to receiving your comments. Comments may be provided for each goal and objective. Please submit your comments by Oct. 27, 2017, through one of the following methods:

  • using the comment box shown at the bottom of each page of the draft strategic plan
  • emailing HHSPlan@hhs.gov
  • faxing to (202) 690-5882
  • sending mail to: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Strategic Planning Team, Attn: Strategic Plan Comments, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 415F, Washington, DC 20201.

Download the Draft HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018-2022


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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CHIP Renewal Hits Snag in House after Sailing Through Senate

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides coverage for some 9 million children nationwide, expired at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 and is now facing an uncertain renewal future. Though the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill providing $100 billion over five years, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill that Democrats complained would take money from Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The House bill, approved on a party-line vote, would require those on Medicare who earn more than $500,000 a year to pay a higher monthly premium, and it would allow states to curtail Medicaid services for those who win the lottery. High earners already pay about $400 a month for Medicare, but the bill would tack on another $135 monthly.

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NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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DOL Announces Theme for National Disability Awareness Month

 The Department of Labor (DOL) is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month throughout October. The department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) previously announced the month-long theme is Inclusion Drives Innovation.”

“This October, we celebrate the contributions and achievements of Americans with disabilities as part of the American workforce,” said Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “As the Trump Administration drives job creation, we are reminded that the role of Americans with disabilities is not defined by what they cannot do, but rather, by what they can do. Each day, millions of Americans with disabilities go to work and know firsthand, the independence, pride, and sense of community that comes with a job. Their daily contributions are proof that inclusion helps drive American innovation.”

In 1945, Congress declared the first week of October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962, the word physically” was dropped to acknowledge individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to NDEAM. In 2001, ODEP was established and formally began selecting the NDEAM theme.

Read how “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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EEOC Lawsuits Spike in 2017

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a record pace in filing lawsuits, having initiated 241 so far this year, compared to 86 for all of 2016.

September alone saw 69 lawsuits filed, up from 22 last year. July and August each had 20 new filings, compared to 8 in each of those months in 2016.

The rapid increase appears to be more related to the commission’s decision-making process rather than any spike in workplace discrimination, according to observers. Also, the EEOC seems to be more willing to lodge lawsuits for individual employees rather than seeking systemic (wide-scale) legal actions as the Obama EEOC did.

At any rate, EEOC watchers warn employers to take any inquiry by the EEOC seriously and to act promptly in response.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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Company Fined Whopping $95 Million for Hiring Illegal Workers

Asplundh Tree Experts of Philadelphia has agreed to pay a fine of $95 million for hiring illegal workers and openly accepting false documents to do so, even after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had audited the company and ordered the workers terminated, many of whom were soon thereafter rehired under different names. The fine includes $80 million of profits made while the illegal workers were on the payroll, plus a $15 million penalty.

Asplundh pleaded guilty this past Thursday, Sept. 28, in federal court to evading the normal human resource verification process and hiring the illegal workers by word of mouth and other extralegal methods.

DHS had begun auditing the company in 2009, but the tree-trimming firm continued its practice of hiring, firing and rehiring the illegals anyway.

“The results of these audits and the names of these employees who were determined to be ineligible to work in the United States were communicated to Asplundh,” court documents say.

The court documents also cite several examples where the same people who had been dismissed after the DHS audit were rehired, but under different names.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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First Monday in October Sees SCOTUS Weigh Workers’ Rights

only-one-of-two-known-photos-of-supreme-court-in-session

This 1932 photo of the Supreme Court, taken by a camera smuggled into the courtroom, is one of only two known to exist. Photography in the chamber is forbidden.

The Supreme Court opened its 2017-2018 term by taking up a case involving some 25 million workers. At issue was whether workers could be contractually forced to use binding arbitration with class action waivers for employment issues rather than being allowed to take collective legal action.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, in his first full term, sat silently while a lively debate seemed to split between the liberal and conservative wings of the bench. In an interesting twist, two government agencies took contrasting positions. Lawyers for the Justice Department argued the business case (keep the arbitration), while lawyers for the National Labor Relations Board took the employees’ side.

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NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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DOJ Sues Firm for Hiring Foreign Workers

Citing the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued Crop Production Services Inc. of Colorado for not hiring American workers but instead taking on foreign H2-A visa workers. It is the first prosecution since President Trump’s American First executive order of April 18.

According to the DOJ, the INA makes it unlawful for employers to intentionally discriminate against Americans because of their citizenship. The H2-A visa program also mandates employers to first seek out available U.S. workers.

In May the DOJ reached a settlement with an onion farm in New Mexico over the same charge of preferring foreign workers. Crop Production Services and the DOJ were unable to reach an agreement, however, leading to the lawsuit.

“In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, the Department of Justice will not tolerate employers who discriminate against U.S. workers because of a desire to hire temporary foreign visa holders,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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