As we commemorate September 11, 2001, we are reminded of how our nation came together in response 19 years ago. All over the nation, and the world, people will come together again this year to honor those so brutally and suddenly lost. We remember the survivors and the mourning families. We remember and we honor the heroes who gave so much and continue to do so in furtherance of the legacies of September 11, 2001. There are many ways we honor 9/11 around our communities and across the nation, including volunteer projects, moments of silence, memorial runs or walks, stair climbs, as well as through kind acts or words of support and encouragement to grieving families of those in need.
Business interruption insurance, an insurance that covers loss of income caused by a disaster, is a way for many businesses to have a sort of life preserver during this disruptive time. But what happens if your insurance claim is denied, ripping your lifeline away and defying the spirit of the bargained for deal you agreed to with your insurance carrier? It’s a question thousands of businesses are currently asking after being told that mandated business closures related to the novel COVID-19 pandemic don’t, for a variety of reasons, meet the terms of eligibility for business interruption payouts as specified in their insurance policies.
While Whistleblower Appreciation Day (7/30) is a time to reflect on the individuals who selflessly come forward with information for the good of us all, it is also a time to examine the ever-changing landscape as our country continues to craft new laws and establish precedent that hopefully will make it easier for whistleblowers to come forward, and for the SEC and other agencies and whistleblower programs to hold wrongdoers accountable.
Johnson & Johnson recently announced it will stop selling talcum-based baby powered in the U.S. and Canada. The decision to stop selling the product came within a few short months of an FDA test that found asbestos in a single lot of J&J baby powder, despite the company’s continued statements that its baby powder is safe. The company has also been ordered to pay billions of dollars in verdicts to women and their families who say asbestos-contaminated baby powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.
School buses are essential (under normal circumstances, when students are not at home during a pandemic) for many parents and for students who don’t otherwise have a way to school, after school activities or sports games. For many, they bring up fond memories of riding to school with friends and neighbors, but for others, buses have been the source of harm or even deadly outcomes. One reason is that most school buses don’t contain the types of automatic fire suppressant systems and protections we’ve come to expect, making a school bus one of the worst places to be during a fire.
History teaches that as in previous national crises, the funds appropriated through the CARES Act will be beset by fraud of every kind imaginable. America’s workers, and particularly the essential healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic, are uniquely situated to witness, detect, prevent and report COVID-19-related fraud on the government by taking advantage of the rights and protections afforded whistleblowers by the False Claims Act (FCA).
Since the beginning of this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Whistleblower (OWB) has issued approximately $64 million in whistleblower awards to 12 whistleblowers who reported information to the SEC that either caused it to open an investigation or substantially assisted in an ongoing investigation.
Over the course of last week, we explored how past work-related tragedies shaped and were often a catalyst for safety policies, many of which continue to protect workers to this day. We also examined the challenges and limitations that affect today’s workers – especially now as the world continues to find its way through this unprecedented pandemic. Now that Workers’ Memorial Week 2020 has come to a close, we’re reminded just how uncertain the future remains for workers.
In the workplace, employees’ knowledge of their rights not only empowers them, but helps to promote transparency, safety regulations and their civil liberties. In honor of Workers’ Memorial Week it is important to apply the lessons we have learned in the past and exercise workers’ rights, especially now as medical personnel, food plant workers and others are facing increased risks from COVID-19 and, in some situations, a lack of adequate personal safety equipment and appropriate working conditions.
Ensuring a safe work environment is, and always has been, everyone’s business. That’s why each year during the last week of April, advocacy groups across the country unite to recognize Workers’ Memorial Week – a time to remember those killed or injured on the job and reflect on the pivotal events that have shaped work culture.