Article 43

 

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Marvel At The Beast - Part 5

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The beast that you saw existed once but now exists no longer. It will come up from the abyss and is headed for destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world shall be amazed when they see the beast, because it existed once but exists no longer, and yet it will come again.
-Revelations 17:8

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
- I John 2:18

It is human nature to hate the man whom you have hurt.
- Tacitus - Roman Senator, Consul, Governor, Historian. - AD 56 - 117

Welcome to Orwells World 2010

By John Pilger
December 30, 2009

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate called Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

BARAK OBAMA is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at the close of the decade, the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE winner affirmed that peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war that “extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan” to “disorderly regions and diffuse enemies.” He called this “global security” and invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which America has invaded and occupied, he said wittily: “We have no interest in occupying your country.”

In Oceania, TRUTH AND LIES are indivisible. According to Obama, the American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorised by the United Nations Security Council. There was no UN authority. He said “the world” supported the invasion in the wake of 9/11 when, in truth, all but three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup expressed overwhelming opposition. He said that America invaded Afghanistan “only after the Taliban refused to turn over [Osama] bin Laden.” In 2001, the Taliban tried three times to hand over bin Laden for trial, reported Pakistans military regime, and were ignored. Even Obama’s mystification of 9/11 as justification for his war is FALSE. More than two months before the Twin Towers were attacked, the Pakistani foreign minister, Niaz Naik, was told by the Bush administration that an American military assault would take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in Kabul, which the Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no longer regarded as “stable” enough to ensure Americas control over oil and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go.

Obama’s most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a “safe haven” for al-Qaedas attacks on the West. His own national security adviser, General James Jones, said in October that there were “fewer than 100” al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90 per cent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but “a tribal localised insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power.”The war is a fraud. Only the terminally gormless remain true to the Obama brand of “world peace.”

BENEATH THE SURFACE, however, there is serious purpose. Under the disturbing General Stanley McCrystal, who gained distinction for his assassination squads in Iraq, the occupation of one of the most impoverished countries is a model for those “disorderly regions” of the world still beyond Oceania’s reach. This is a known as COIN, or counter-insurgency network, which draws together the military, aid organisations, psychologists, anthropologists, the media and public relations hirelings. Covered in jargon about WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS, its aim is to pit one ethnic group against another and incite civil war: Tajiks and Uzbecks against Pashtuns.

The Americans did this in Iraq and destroyed a multi-ethnic society. They bribed and built walls between communities who had once inter-married, ethnically cleansing the Sunni and driving millions out of the country. The embedded media reported this as “peace,” and American academics bought by Washington and “security experts” briefed by the Pentagon appeared on the BBC to spread the good news. As in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the opposite was true.

Something similar is planned for Afghanistan. People are to be forced into “target areas” controlled by warlords bankrolled by the Americans and the opium trade. That these warlords are infamous for their barbarism is irrelevant. “We can live with that,” a Clinton-era diplomat said of the persecution of women in a “stable” Taliban-run Afghanistan. Favoured western relief agencies, engineers and agricultural specialists will attend to the “humanitarian crisis” and so “secure” the subjugated tribal lands.

That is the theory. IT WORKED after a fashion in Yugoslavia where the ethnic-sectarian partition wiped out a once peaceful society, but it failed in VIETNAM where the CIAs “strategic hamlet program” was designed to corral and divide the southern population and so defeat the Viet Cong—the Americans catch-all term for the resistance, similar to “Taliban”

Behind much of this are the Israelis, who have long advised the Americans in both the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures. Ethnic-cleansing, wall-building, checkpoints, collective punishment and constant surveillance these are claimed as Israeli innovations that have succeeded in stealing most of Palestine from its native people. And yet for all their suffering, the Palestinians have not been divided irrevocably and they endure as a nation against all odds.

The most telling forerunners of the Obama Plan, which the Nobel Peace Prize winner and his strange general and his PR men prefer we forget, are those that failed in Afghanistan itself. The British in the 19th century and the Soviets in the 20th century attempted to conquer that wild country by ethnic cleansing and were seen off, though after terrible bloodshed. Imperial cemeteries are their memorials. People power, sometimes baffling, often heroic, remains the seed beneath the snow, and invaders fear it.

“It was curious,” wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, ”TO THINK THAT THE SKY WAS THE SAME FOR EVERYBODY, IN EURASIA OR EASTASIA AS WELL AS HERE. And the people under the sky were also very much the same, everywhere, all over the world people IGNORANT OF ONE ANOTHER’S EXISTENCE, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly THE SAME PEOPLE who were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world.”

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Posted by Elvis on 12/31/09 •
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Monday, December 28, 2009

One Day Well All Be Terrorists

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By Chris Hedges
Truthdig
December 28, 2009

Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantnamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.

This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to SILENCE ALL who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movementswho are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism - have discovered that his fate is their fate. Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found HERE or HERE. On Martin Luther King Day, this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join them if you can.

The case against Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration, is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence. This may be the reason the state has set up parallel legal and penal codes to railroad those it charges with links to terrorism. If it were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably never be brought to trial.

Hashmi, who if convicted could face up to 70 years in prison, has been held in solitary confinement for more than 2 years. Special administrative measures, known as SAMs, have been imposed by the attorney general to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. He also is denied access to the news and other reading material. Hashmi is not allowed to attend group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. He must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. He can writeone letter a week to a single member of his family, but he cannot use more than three pieces of paper. He has no access to fresh air and must take his one hour of daily recreation in a cage. His ݓproclivity for violence is cited as the reason for these measures although he has never been charged or convicted with committing an act of violence.

“My brother was an activist,” Hashmi’s brother, Faisal, told me by phone from his home in Queens. He spoke out on Muslim issues, especially those dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His arrest and torture have nothing to do with providing ponchos and socks to al-Qaida, as has been charged, but the manipulation of the law to suppress activists and scare the Muslim American community. My brother is an example. His treatment is meant to show Muslims what will happen to them if they speak about the plight of Muslims. We have lost every single motion to preserve my brotherӒs humanity and remove the special administrative measures. These measures are designed solely to break the psyche of prisoners and terrorize the Muslim community. These measures exemplify the malice towards Muslims at home and the malice towards the millions of Muslims who are considered as non-humans in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The extreme sensory deprivation used on Hashmi is a form of psychological torture, far more effective in breaking and disorienting detainees. It is torture as science. In Germany, the Gestapo broke bones while its successor, the communist East German Stasi, broke souls. We are like the Stasi. We have refined the art of psychological disintegration and drag bewildered suspects into secretive courts when they no longer have the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves.

“Hashmis right to a fair trial has been abridged,” said Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Much of the evidence in the case has been classified under CIPA, and thus Hashmi has not been allowed to review it. The prosecution only recently turned over a significant portion of evidence to the defense. Hashmi may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys. The conditions of his detention have impacted his mental state and ability to participate in his own defense.

“The prosecutions case against Hashmi, an outspoken activist within the Muslim community, abridges his First Amendment rights and threatens the First Amendment rights of others,” Ratner added. While HashmiӒs political and religious beliefs, speech and associations are constitutionally protected, the government has been given wide latitude by the court to use them as evidence of his frame of mind and, by extension, intent. The material support charges against him depend on criminalization of association. This could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities.

Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations can now become a crime. Dissidents, even those who break no laws, can be stripped of their rights and imprisoned without due process. It is the legal equivalent of preemptive war. The state can detain and prosecute people not for what they have done, or even for what they are planning to do, but for holding religious or political beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first of those targeted have been observant Muslims, but they will not be the last.

“Most of the evidence is classified,” Jeanne Theoharis, an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College who taught Hashmi, told me, “but Hashmi is not allowed to see it.” He is an American citizen. But in America you can now go to trial and all the evidence collected against you cannot be reviewed. You can spend 2 years in solitary confinement before you are convicted of anything. There has been attention paid to extraordinary rendition, Guantݡnamo and Abu Ghraib with this false idea that if people are tried in the United States things will be fair. But what allowed Guantnamo to happen was the devolution of the rule of law here at home, and this is not only happening to Hashmi.

Hashmi was, like so many of those arrested during the Bush years, briefly a poster child in the “war on terror”. He was apprehended in Britain on June 6, 2006, on a U.S. warrant. His arrest was the top story on the CBS and NBC nightly news programs, which used graphics that read “Terror Trail” and “Web of Terror”. He was held for 11 months at Belmarsh Prison in London and then became the first U.S. citizen to be extradited by Britain. The year before his arrest, Hashmi, a graduate of Brooklyn College, had completed his master’s degree in international relations at London Metropolitan University. His case has no more substance than the one against the seven men arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower, a case where, even though there were five convictions after two mistrials, an FBI deputy director acknowledged that the plan was more aspirational rather than operational. And it mirrors the older case of the Palestinian activist Sami Al-Arian, now under house arrest in Virginia, who has been hounded by the Justice Department although he should legally have been freed. Judge Leonie Brinkema, currently handling the Al-Arian case, in early March, questioned the U.S. attorneys actions in Al-Arian’s plea agreement saying curtly: “I think there’s something MORE IMPORTANT here, and thats the integrity of the Justice Department.”

The case against Hashmi revolves around the testimony of Junaid Babar, also an American citizen. Babar, in early 2004, stayed with Hashmi at his London apartment for two weeks. In his luggage, the government alleges, Babar had raincoats, ponchos and waterproof socks, which Babar later delivered to a member of al-Qaida in south Waziristan, Pakistan. It was alleged that Hashmi allowed Babar to use his cell phone to call conspirators in other terror plots.

Hashmi grew up here, was well known here, was very outspoken, very charismatic and very political,Ӕ said Theoharis. This is really a message being sent to American Muslims about the cost of being politically active. It is not about delivering alleged socks and ponchos and rain gear. Do you think al-Qaida canӒt get socks and ponchos in Pakistan? The government is planning to introduce tapes of Hashmis political talks while he was at Brooklyn College at the trial. Why are we willing to let this happen? Is it because they are Muslims, and we think it will not affect us? People who care about First Amendment rights should be terrified. This is one of the crucial civil rights issues of our time. We ignore this at our own peril.Ҕ

Babar, who was arrested in 2004 and has pleaded guilty to five counts of material support for al-Qaida, also faces up to 70 years in prison. But he has agreed to serve as a government witness and has already testified for the government in terror trials in Britain and Canada. Babar will receive a reduced sentence for his services, and many speculate he will be set free after the Hashmi trial. Since there is very little evidence to link Hashmi to terrorist activity, the government will rely on Babar to prove intent. This intent will revolve around alleged conversations and statements Hashmi made in Babars presence. Hashmi, who was a member of the New York political group Al Muhajiroun as a student at Brooklyn College, has made provocative statements, including calling America ғthe biggest terrorist in the world, but Al Muhajiroun is not defined by the government as a terrorist organization. Membership in the group is not illegal. And our complicity in acts of state terror is a historical fact.

There will be more Hashmis, and the Justice Department, planning for future detentions, set up in 2006 a segregated facility, the Communication Management Unit, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Nearly all the inmates transferred to Terre Haute are Muslims. A second facility has been set up at Marion, Ill., where the inmates again are mostly Muslim but also include a sprinkling of animal rights and environmental activists, among them Daniel McGowan, who was charged with two arsons at logging operations in Oregon. His sentence was given terrorism enhancements under the Patriot Act. Amnesty International has called the Marion prison facility “inhumane”. All calls and mail - although communication customarily is off-limits to prison officialsare monitored in these two Communication Management Units. Communication among prisoners is required to be only in English. The highest-level terrorists are housed at the Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, known as Supermax, in Florence, Colo., where prisoners have almost no human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation, replicating the conditions for most of those held at Guantסnamo. If detainees are transferred from Guantnamo to the prison in in Thomson, Ill., they will find little change. They will endure Guantnamo-like conditions in colder weather.

Our descent is the familiar disease of decaying empires. The tyranny we impose on others we finally impose on ourselves. The influx of non-Muslim American activists into these facilities is another ominous development. It presages the continued dismantling of the rule of law, the widening of a system where prisoners are psychologically broken by sensory deprivation, extreme isolation and secretive kangaroo courts where suspects are sentenced on rumors and innuendo and denied the right to view the evidence against them. Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism.

Chris Hedges, whose column is published on Truthdig every Monday, spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009) and “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003).

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Posted by Elvis on 12/28/09 •
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Facts About Age Discrimination

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Facts About Age Discrimination

The AGE DISCRIMINATION EMPLOYMENT ACT OF 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment DISCRIMINATION BASED ON AGE. The ADEAs protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. The ADEA permits employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older.

It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on age or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA.

The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. ADEA protections include:

· Apprenticeship Programs

It is generally unlawful for apprenticeship programs, including joint labor-management apprenticeship programs, to discriminate on the basis of an individuals age. Age limitations in apprenticeship programs are valid only if they fall within certain specific exceptions under the ADEA or if the EEOC grants a specific exemption.

· Job Notices and Advertisements

The ADEA generally makes it unlawful to include age preferences, limitations, or specifications in job notices or advertisements. A job notice or advertisement may specify an age limit only in the rare circumstances where age is shown to be a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business.

· Pre-Employment Inquiries

The ADEA does not specifically prohibit an employer from ASKING FOR AN APPLICANT’S AGE or date of birth. However, because such inquiries may deter older workers from applying for employment or may otherwise indicate possible intent to discriminate based on age, requests for age information will be closely scrutinized to make sure that the inquiry was made for a lawful purpose, rather than for a purpose prohibited by the ADEA.

· Benefits

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to specifically prohibit employers from denying benefits to older employees. Congress recognized that the cost of providing certain benefits to older workers is greater than the cost of providing those same benefits to younger workers, and that those greater costs would create a disincentive to hire older workers. Therefore, in limited circumstances, an employer may be permitted to reduce benefits based on age, as long as the cost of providing the reduced benefits to older workers is the same as the cost of providing benefits to younger workers.

Employers are permitted to coordinate retiree health benefit plans with eligibility for Medicare or a comparable state-sponsored health benefit.

· Waivers of ADEA Rights

An employer may ask an employee to waive his/her rights or claims under the ADEA either in the settlement of an ADEA administrative or court claim or in connection with an exit incentive program or other employment termination program. However, the ADEA, as amended by OWBPA, sets out specific minimum standards that must be met in order for a waiver to be considered knowing and voluntary and, therefore, valid. Among other requirements, a valid ADEA waiver must:

- be in writing and be understandable;

- specifically refer to ADEA rights or claims;

- not waive rights or claims that may arise in the future;

- be in exchange for valuable consideration;

- advise the individual in writing to consult an attorney before signing the waiver; and

- provide the individual at least 21 days to consider the agreement and at least seven days to revoke the agreement after signing it.

If an employer requests an ADEA waiver in connection with an exit incentive program or other employment termination program, the minimum requirements for a valid waiver are more extensive.

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In 1990, Congress passed the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) which amended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to safeguard older workers’ employee benefits from age DISCRIMINATION. Even with the OWBPA amendments, employers may observe the terms of “bona fide employee benefit plans” such as retirement, pension, or insurance plans that contain age-based distinctions, but only if the distinctions are cost-justified. Employers must pay the same amount for each benefit provided to an older worker as is paid for a younger worker. But the OWBPA does make provision for the increased costs of providing certain benefits, such as life insurance, to older workers.

Release of claims under Older Workers Benefit Protection Act

Most employers seek a general release from employees in connection with voluntary or involuntary severance payments or early retirement benefits to limit their exposure to lawsuits by employees challenging the company’s selection decisions.Whenever employers seek a release of federal age discrimination claims, they must comply with the OWBPA. It is important to note that the OWBPA’s requirements apply only to the release of age discrimination claims under the ADEA.The release of all other claims, such as state law claims, are not affected by compliance with the OWBPA.

The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act addresses four different release scenarios: 1) a release by an involuntarily terminated employee who has not filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge or lawsuit; 2) releases by employees who are involuntarily terminated under group reductions in force and who have not filed age discrimination claims or lawsuits; 3) releases in settlement of disputed claims, either pending EEOC charges or civil lawsuits; and 4) releases by employees who have voluntarily opted to sever employment under an incentive program.

In some circumstances, an employee’s rights under the OWBPA and the ADEA can be waived if specific criteria are met. Of utmost importance is the requirement that the waivers of potential age discrimination claims be “knowing and voluntary.”

Layoffs and the OWBPA

Regarding restructuring and layofff programs and early retirement plans, the OWBPA requires employers to provide information about the ages of both terminated and retained employees to those who are considering releasing their age claims.

Deciding which employees comprise the group or organizational unit for the OWBPA’s disclosure requirements can be a logistical nightmare for an employer. Unfortunately, the OWBPA itself offers little guidance on what an appropriate definition might be.

SOURCE

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Filing An Age Discrimination Claim

By Roger Braddock
Senior Magazine

Age discrimination is against the law and employers have often tried to get around age discrimination claims by holding severance pay as a hostage to signing an age discrimination waiver. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") has issued regulations regarding severance agreements that are signed by people who could file an age discrimination claim.  The employee now has an easier time collecting offered severance pay from the employer while at the same time challenging age discrimination releases and waivers in the severance agreement.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA") applies to employers with 20 or more employees and prohibits age discrimination against employees 40 years of age or older.

ADEA waivers

In some cases, an employer might offer a severance agreement that includes a waiver of a right to file an age discrimination claim.  Such a waiver under ADEA is a legal agreement in which the employee gives up the right to file an age discrimination claim against the employer in exchange for something of value like early retirement benefits or a severance package.

Congress was concerned that an exiting employee might be duped or coerced into signing this agreement, and passed the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act ("OWBPA") as an amendment to the ADEA.

Provisions of OWBPA

The OWBPA established certain minimum requirements that must be met in order for an ADEA waiver to be valid. Those minimum requirements, among other things, require waivers be written in plain English and give employees a twenty-one day consideration period.  It must also encourage employees to consult legal counsel and provide a seven-day period which they can back out of the agreement.

During the 1990’’s, legal disputes arose concerning whether an employee could challenge an ADEA waiver in court without first having to return the severance money the employee received from the employer for the waiver.

In Oubre v. Entergy Operations, Inc., 522 U.S. 422 (1998), the United States Supreme Court resolved this matter, holding that older workers are not required to give back severance money to their employers before filing ADEA lawsuits.

The reason for the Court’s decision was the an older worker often needs the severance money to make bills and that forcing the worker to give back the money in order to make a claim would be tantamount to financial blackmail to avoid a legitimate claim being filed.

In December 2000, the EEOC issued new regulations reaffirming and expanding the U.S. Supreme Court’’s decision. The regulations, entitled “Waivers of Rights and Claims: Tender Back of Consideration”, became effective January 10, 2001 and in summary, provide:

· An older worker does not have to “tender back” (give back) severance pay or other benefits before filing a lawsuit to challenge an ADEA waiver;

· An employer cannot avoid the “no tender back” rule by contractually requiring an employee to pay damages, costs or attorneys’’ fees for having filed suit

· An employer may only recover severance monies paid if the employee successfully challenges the validity of his waiver and wins on his age discrimination claim.  But.the employer is, at the court’s discretion, limited to recovering the lesser of: (a) the amount the company paid for the ADEA waiver; or (b) the amount of the employee’s ADEA award; In other words, the employee would probably not be able to keep both the settlement amount or award AND the severance pay, but would be allowed to keep the larger of the two.

· An employee’s lawsuit does not stop the employer’s commitments under the severance agreement (i.e. the employer must continue making severance payments it agreed to provide to the employee); and Waiver is an affirmative defense to an ADEA lawsuit so a case will only be dismissed if the employer can prove the employee’s waiver was valid under the OWBPA.

What does all this mean to seniors who are being terminated or laid off? 

Essentially, you must give due consideration to any documents that you sign when you leave.  And of course, you are entitled to have an attorney review these documents before you sign them and even after you sign them.

You also have rights regarding the waivers including that you must understand what it is that you are signing.  Nobody can say that you must sign them now or forget it, and even if you do sign them, you have a solid week to reconsider and undo your agreement.

It also means that if you have signed such a waiver, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot pursue an age discrimination claim against the employer and that if you make that claim, you cannot be compelled to give back the severance payments or the employer cannot suddenly stop making them to you.

What it does not mean:  If the employer has fulfilled all of their duties under ADEA and OWBPA, you cannot just sign the agreement and sometime later hope that you are going to get both your severance pay and successfully file an age discrimination claim. 

You are given a windowof opportunity here, but at some time, that windowdoes close and you don’t have unlimited recourse against your old employer.  At some time (and you don’t have for ever), you must make a decision as to whether you will accept the terms of the severance agreement and the associated terms, or if you will pursue legal recourse.

Seek legal counsel early

It is recommended that you seek professional legal counsel in making this determination.  There is the opportunity to have someone who has experience in these matters take a look at your situation and help you determine first, whether age discrimination has likely occurred, and if so, if it is reasonable that it can be proven.

If you think that you have been discriminated against because of your age, you should make an appointment with an attorney early.  This kind of decision potentially can involve a great deal of money and there are often very few hard facts.  It can take time to pull together all of the circumstantial evidence to determine if there is a reasonable case for age discrimination.

You owe it to yourself to have the most time possible to determine as many facts as you can and have the most time to consider all of your options.

SOURCE

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The Ugly Truth About Age Discrimination

By Liz Ryan
Forbes
January 31, 2014

“So then the headhunter said something that took my breath away,” said my caller, Philip.

He told me that his client looked at my resume and said it looked great, but then he found my LinkedIn profile and decided I’m a little long in the tooth for the job.

I was silent. That took my breath away, too.

“Long in the tooth?” I asked. “As in old?”

“Exactly,” said Philip. “The headhunter actually told me that the client said I was too old for the job. I asked him if that was illegal - I’m pretty sure it is - and he said that the client’s view is that if they dont interview me, I’m not a candidate, so its not discrimination.”

“That"s false,” I said, but even as I said it, I knew that it doesn’t make any difference.

What is Philip going to do - sue the employer he never met because a third-party recruiter told him that one hiring manager made an inappropriate comment? So-called Failure to Hire cases are notoriously hard to bring and even harder to prove. As long as the organization ends up hiring someone who is qualified for the job, how could Phil ever prove that he was rejected because of his age? It’s not as though the organization is going to publish the new hires age for all the other candidates to see.

Age discrimination is everywhere. I hear more examples of age discrimination than I hear about sex discrimination, racial discrimination and every other kind put together. I expect that’s because some employers believe that older workers arent as nimble or perhaps aren’t as easy to train. Some of them undoubtedly worry that an older person is necessarily overqualified, and thus likely to bolt the minute a better job comes along.

Thats ridiculous, of course. Younger people are just as likely to bail for a better opportunity as older ones are. Many mature employees are more interested in the challenge and the environment than they are in a rocket-to-the-stars career path. But age discrimination persists. ItҒs the only kind of employment discrimination I know of that people talk about openly, either because theyre unaware of the laws preventing it (in the U.S., youҒre supposed to be protected from age discrimination once youre 40 years old, which doesnҒt do a thing for young people who are told youӒre too young for this job) or because they donԒt care.

The overly mechanized recruiting process only makes age discrimination worse, because when you fill out an online job application, the length of your career is immediately evident. I don’t blame older job-seekers for dropping the first ten years from their career histories to prevent being knocked out of the running before they even get to interview. (I’d prefer that they avoid the Black Hole recruiting systems altogether by sending pithy Pain Letters directly to their hiring managers, but thats a topic for another column.)

If you’re a job-seeker of a certain age and you’re not having an easy time of it, worries about age discrimination could sink your mojo to the point that it’s hard even to keep trying. I encourage you not to give up, and here’s why: there’s a solution to the age discrimination problem.

It isn’t legislative - we already have laws on the books! It isnt an enforcement solution, either. That’s an expensive waste of your time and a mojo-crushing experience, only to be used when the discrimination is egregious and overt (a/k/a easy to prove). For the rest of us, the solution is practical.

It’s unlawful to reject a job-seeker because s/he’s over forty, but its perfectly legal to decline to hire someone because he or she is Capricorn, a knitter or a Broncos fan. It’s legal to refuse to hire someone because he’s Republican or because she’s vegan. You can say to a job-seeker YouӒre too ugly to work for me without breaking any laws. In other words, older job-seekers aren’t the only ones being discriminated against. Were all in the same boat. We hurt ourselves emotionally and operationally when we let an amorphous bogeyman like Age Discrimination slow us down. We can’t afford to do that. We have to remember that we’re more powerful than any obstacle in our way, and find an argument compelling enough that hiring managers can’t ignore it.

Here’s the flip side of the age-discrimination challenge: if you know what business pain you solve and can talk to hiring managers about that pain, they can’t afford to care how old you are. When you stop talking about your Skills and Abilities on the job search mewly, please-like-me attributes that no hiring manager can possibly evaluate, out of context and sounding exactly like every other banana in the bunch - you can talk about something far more important. That important something is the business pain - behind the job ad - the excruciating and expensive business problem that justified the new hire in the first place.

If there’s no pain, theres no new hire. We hurt ourselves on the job search (and leave ourselves open to age discrimination and every other kind) when we make our pitch about us, and our fabulousness. We need to think like salespeople, and zero in on the business pain likely to be keeping our hiring manager up at night.

Just like a salesperson, you need to develop a Pain Hypothesis for your hiring manager.  If you go on an interview and answer the managerҒs questions in sheeplike fashion, trying hard to please him or her, youre going to be lined up against all the other candidates after the first-round interviews are done. ItҒs in the comparison process that topics like age can hurt you.

“We could hire Philip, who could do this job in his sleep,” the manager might say, “or Sarah, wh’s going to grow into it but who could be here for years to come.”

You don’t want to be in that police lineup, and the way out of it is to use your interview time to probe for business pain. Get your hiring manager talking about whats really going on behind the job ad, and you’ll find that the quality of the conversation shifts dramatically. All of a sudden, youre not a supplicant but a trusted advisor, a consultant digging to learn more about whatҒs not working. Job-seekers who use their interview air time to ask questions about the processes, the obstacles in a hiring managers way and the thorny problems they’ve seen before in similar situations vault themselves to a higher level of conversation than the ones who don’t.

Try it on your next job interview. Pain interviewing isnҒt a cure for age discrimination, but itll give you a focus and an edge that will make discrimination a non-factor in your job search.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/28/09 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Job Hunt
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

2010 IT Job Predictions

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IT Jobs Trends 2010: Predictions for the New Year

By Jessica Davis
The Channel Insider
December 14, 2009

When will the IT jobs recovery arrive? Foote Partners shares its predictions for the return of IT hiring, plus makes some predictions about trends around the IT job market for 2010.

While the recent Department of Labor report showed that IT employment may have turned the corner recently, that doesnt mean there will be a big job recovery in IT in 2010.

Expect IT hiring to remain sluggish through most of 2010, only picking up at the end of the year and maybe not even until 2011, according to IT employment trends analysis firm Foote Partners.

Foote Partners recently released its predictions for 2010, and among them is this lackluster IT hiring forecast.

Expect the length of the tail on this staffing lag to be much longer than previous economic recoveries,” the firm says in its report. “Volatility will continue to punctuate staffing and pay levels throughout 2010, with human capital investments focused on specific skill specializations as employers struggle to recalibrate their IT workforces by striking the right balance between costs, agility and intense competitive market pressures.”

When will the IT jobs recovery arrive? Foote Partners shares its predictions for the return of IT hiring, plus makes some predictions about trends around the IT job market for 2010.

While the recent Department of Labor report showed that IT employment may have turned the corner recently, that doesnt mean there will be a big job recovery in IT in 2010.

Rather, the firm says, employers will continue their focus on acquiring the right skills - whether its through providing training to existing employees, hiring new ones, or going outside to consultants or outsourcing firms—rather than jobs and hiring.

“Workforce reshuffling in response to business decisions used to take months; now its happening in weeks and even days,” the firm says. This is responsible for the extreme volatility in skills pay and demand evidenced in Foote Partners’ 2009 compensation trend surveys beginning in July 2009.

The downside to the approach is that once a recovery arrives, it’s often harder to regain the skill and experience that was sacrificed during the down times.

Foote Partners says that the IT services employment sector will be the first to recover, but the recovery will be different for small vendors versus large vendors. The firm says IT contractors, consultants and managed services providers with the right skills will be in hot demand next year, as will SMB consulting firms in segments such as security.  On the other hand, large systems integrators and services firms will see a slower growth in headcount.

Foote Partners also points to the momentum behind the move to managed IT services as a trend that will affect IT employment going forward. The jobs and services most affected include: networking and telecom; PC and desktop services, selected applications, security and SMB companies. 

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/26/09 •
Section Job Hunt
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Equity Extraction

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Many Highly Profitable Companies Cut Jobs in 2009

By Andrea Orr
EPI
December 23, 2009

EARLY IN 2009, Microsoft Corp. announced its FIRST mass LAYOFF ever, cutting 1,250 jobs as part of a plan to eliminate 5,000 positions over the next 18 months. Like just about every company doing business during the recession, Microsoft was facing a challenging business climate and an uncertain outlook. But Microsoft was at the time - and remains today - highly profitable. It earned a net profit of $14.6 billion in fiscal 2009 and was ranked one of the 10 most profitable companies in the United States.

Microsoft was one of many profitable companies that cut a large number of jobs in 2009. While companies typically defend such moves as necessary to prepare for more challenging business conditions in the future, the layoffs they carry out often serve to grow profits for shareholders. Today, the economy is showing signs of growing again but layoffs continue to mount, and this extreme attention on the part of companies to saving money is arguably to blame. President Obama noted this disparity between rising gross domestic product and a lack of hiring early this month at the White House Jobs Summit.

He said:

Cost-cutting has become embedded in their operations and their culture

Clearly, business is highly competitive, and the news of the past year is full of companies that went out of business or had to scale back their operations dramatically to stay alive. But there were also many very healthy companies that cut.

Some examples:

--Wal-Mart. The retail giant, another one of the countrys most profitable companies, did not have massive layoffs in 2009, but it did trim its staff on multiple occasions, including 650 workers from an Ohio facility that it shut, and 800 at its corporate headquarters. In its fiscal year 2009, which ended last January, the company earned a $13.4 billion profit and grew its revenues a healthy 7% to $405.6 billion.

--IBM. The software maker cut close to 10,000 jobs this year, despite being one of the standout high-tech companies that managed to grow its business during the recession. Its profits last year grew 18% to $12.3 billion, and although the companyҒs sales slumped in 2009, its profits continued to grow, thanks in part to the cost-cutting. IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano earned a total of $22.2 million last year, including base salary, bonus, and stock options, and shareholders have also profited from the companys aggressive cost-cutting. IBMҒs stock price is up almost 50% from the start of the year

--Aetna. The health insurance provider recently cut 1,240 positions in anticipation of falling enrollment. It earned a $1.38 billion profit last year and its revenues have steadily risen in recent years.

--Danaher Corp. The medical device maker laid off 3,300 workers as it moved to integrate two other companies it acquired. Its profits last year totaled more than $1.3 billion. The companys stock is up about 30% for the year.

--Verizon Communications. The telecommunications giant slashed 8,000 jobs deemed ғredundant after its purchase of rival carrier Alltel. The companyԒs net profits jumped 14% to $6.4 billion in 2008, and it continued to expand its business through the most challenging times of 2009. Its most recent financial report in October shows quarterly earnings growing by 25%. Even through the worst of the recession, we have continued to raise our dividend and add new customers, expand markets, and grow revenues,Ӕ the companys CEO recently told shareholders.

--Monsanto. The maker of agricultural products more than doubled its net profit in two short years, to more than $2.1 billion in fiscal 2009. In response to a slowdown in business toward the end of this year, however, it announced a corporate restructuring and cut 900 jobs. In addition to a $2.46 million base pay, CEO Hugh Grant earned bonuses and options bringing his total compensation to $17.4 million.

--Phillip Morris. The maker of cigarettes and other tobacco products saw minimal impact on sales during the Great Recession. But in April it announced 1,100 job cuts, partly a result of plant consolidation. Both revenues and net income are up for the year, and the companyҒs chief financial officer recently boasted to investors that its strong financial performance confirms our companyӒs ability to grow even in these difficult times.

SOURCE

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Provide A Public Service With Small Profits, Or Destroy It With Large Ones?

The Agonist
December 11, 2009

Call me a contrarian on this one. But I don’t buy all the hype that the internet is even the primary culprit of the DEMISE OF JOURNALISM. The PRIMARY CULPRIT is the same as it is all over the country, in every industry and in government: equity extraction.

Let me explain, in short: when EXECUTIVES expect unrealistic profits of 20% and higher per annum on businesses something has got to give. It’s an unnatural and unsustainable growth rate. For the first ten or so years of a small to medium size company’s life? Sure. But when you are 3M, or GE? Unrealistic and ultimately impossible.

So, when such rates cannot be achieved by organic growth in the business, executives start shaving off perceived fat and before they know it they’re cutting off the muscle and then shaving off bone chips. And when they’ve gotten to the bone chips they borrow other people’s money to buy new companies, load up those companies with debt and extract equity form them and then because it looks like the parent is still growing award themselves huge bonuses. It’s a shell game.

That is what has happened to the news industry in America. The excessive obsession with unnaturally high profits has led to a vicious circle of cutting budgets, providing less services, which is then followed by even more drastic cuts. The local San Antonio paper is a great example of this. Twenty years ago there were two large dailies in my hometown. Both competed with each other for real scoops. Both had book reviews by local writers, providing local jobs. Both covered the local arts and sports scene. Both covered local politics in depth and local and state news in depth. Both had vigorous investigative teams. Both had bureaus in Mexico and both had offices and reporters on the ground in DC.

And then corner offices of Gannet and Harte-Hanks were populated with Kinsey-esque managers and the rout was on. Gone are the bureaus in Mexico. Today book reviews are now outsourced !for free! to bloggers via syndication. (And while it is well and good to have one’s name in print, I’d submit most would like some earnings off their intellectual property, as well.) Local arts? The office in DC? Well, that’s the AP, now. So, today, San Antonio has one daily that is as flimsy and tiny as the local alternative. The only real strength left with the local daily is the City Hall coverage. Everything else has been outsourced to the wire services or people writing for free. It’s hardly more than thirty pages. That’s a lot of wealth destruction and job loss in twenty years. And 80% of this happened before Al Gore even invented the internet. All in the name of higher industry profits--not some overwhelming fear of the world wide inter-tubes. So, who’s profiting? Certainly not the intellectual vigor of the locals? And certainly not the writers who are all now ‘journalism entreprenuers.’ The only people who profited are the executives who obsessed over profits, to lard up their own bonus pool.

And while I agree with the overall thrust of Massig’s argument HERE, mostly because I think we are too far gone to get back to where we started, I think the overly obsessive focus on large profits, or the free market in general, when it comes to journalism is wrong.

The question that journalists inevitably ask Google, Schmidt went on, is, okay then, why don’t you just writeus a large check? The problem, he said,

is that just transferring money from an area where we’re making a lot of money to an area where were making little money does not solve the problem for the long term. YouԒre fundamentally better off building the new product that is profitable and growing - again with the news, with magazines and so forth. Its better for everyone. Because ultimately a subsidy model is a temporary solution. It’s not a long-term solution.

On that point, I think Schmidt is right.

No, Schmidt is wrong. It’s not about subsidies. It’s about money. And it’s about profits. And it is all about collecting obscene profit margins. When you run a public service it’s reasonable to expect reasonable rates of return. But not obscene ones. Same with the banks. Same with the cable news programs. Same with network news and newspapers. Reasonable profits are sustainable. The Google model is not.

You can provide a public service with small profits for a long, long time, but if you demand large ones you will destroy it. Just ask the big banks.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 12/22/09 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America
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