Extra Extra : Workplace

Documents show Iowa offered hush money to ex-employee

The Iowa Department of Administrative Services explicitly offered $6,500 to a former state employee last year in exchange for her secrecy, according to documents obtained by the Des Moines Register.

The documents include a March 6, 2013, e-mail in which Department of Administrative Services attorney Ryan Lamb writes to an attorney representing former employee Carol Frank: "I am agreeable to changes you propose and offer $6,500 for additional term," referring to a stipulation that the settlement be kept confidential.

Read the story here.

LAFD recruit program suspended amid concerns of mismanagement, nepotism

The Los Angeles Fire Department’s recruitment program has been suspended following a Los Angeles Times article last month that revealed serious flaws in the system.

The Times found that thousands of candidates who passed a written test weren’t considered because their paperwork did not come in within the first 60 seconds of the filing period. The department also is wrestling with concerns about nepotism after data showed that one in five recruits in a training class are relatives of working firefighters.

Read more here.

Va. official uses tax dollars to fund vacation

The former police chief of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority appears to have charged a Las Vegas vacation to his public credit card, according to a report from Virginia TV station ABC 8 News.

The chief was scheduled to attend an annual training event in California, but his return tickets home were booked out of Las Vegas, the station found. The station examined credit card and travel reports, finding that the former chief used taxpayer money to pay for plane tickets for his wife as well as a handful of other, smaller expenses.

Last fall officials suspended the police ...

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Virginia Beach Public Works Director keeps job while on military leave

The head of Virginia Beach’s second-largest department hasn’t been to work in nearly three years and keeps volunteering for military service instead of returning to his $150,000-a-year job.

Since deploying in June 2011 – days after a city auditor’s report recommended that he be fired – Public Works Director Jason Cosby has become vested in the city’s pension plan and still collects more than $35,000 a year in benefits, although his salary is on hold. Cosby’s mandatory service ended in 2012, but he took assignments around the world that kept him on active duty, according ...

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Chicago ride-sharing company admits its screening missed convictions

A Chicago ride-sharing company did not run complete criminal background checks on thousands of drivers, the Chicago Tribune reported this morning.

The Tribune learned of the lax oversight when it tried to profile a driver for the company, Uber. The driver selected for the story had a felony conviction for residential burglary.

The company later admitted its background checks had missed county-level criminal convictions.

Read the full story here.

Massachusetts and secret payoffs

For years, the state has used confidential settlement and severance deals to make embarrassing problems go away, often requiring workers to promise to keep the payments secret and avoid saying anything critical about the agencies. When the Globe first asked for copies of all the pacts worth at least $10,000 statewide, it took a four-year legal fight to obtain the names of workers who received the money.

In Philippines, workers toil among hazards in compressor mining

"The job is hazardous, the returns are paltry and they say their work is illegal. But that doesn’t stop the miners – mostly adults and some children – from diving into the mud to find gold," The Center for Investigative Reporting writes. Read the full story here.

Controversial Brazilian dam project creating world's third largest hydroelectric plant

In the Brazilian state of Pará, an army of 25,000 workers is building the world’s third largest hydroelectric plant, a controversial construction project –because of the dam’s low efficiency, its environmental impact and its effects on the Indians, riverbank-dwellers and the inhabitants of Altamira. Folha's reporters spent three weeks in the region to put together comprehensive coverage – with 24 videos, 55 pictures, and 18 infographics– of the country’s largest infrastructural investment