Wal-Mart Agrees to Compensate Employees for Technical Errors

$96,000 will be paid to approximately 300 current and former Delaware employees
In a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to compensate its
employees for technical errors in the calculations of past overtime pay. Under the agreement, Wal-Mart will pay approximately $34 million to 87,000 current and former hourly employees nationally who were underpaid by at least $20, of which $96,000 will be paid to approximately 300 current and former Delaware employees. The amount being paid to these employees includes up to five year of underpayments with interest.
The agreement, reached between the Department of Labor and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., includes no fines or penalties. Wal-Mart discovered the calculation errors during an internal review of its payroll systems and brought them to the attention of the Department of Labor. The agreement has been filed in federal district court and is subject to the court’s approval.
During its internal review, Wal-Mart determined that it failed to include periodic bonuses and other earned income in some employees’ weekly average hourly pay rate, or “regular rate” of pay, which is used to determine their overtime pay. In addition, pay rates were also calculated on a bi-weekly rather than weekly basis and did not account for some managers and employees in training.
Wal-Mart discovered that approximately 87,000 current and former hourly employees were underpaid by at least $20 in the last five years. A limited number of employees will be paid much larger sums. During the course of its internal review, Wal-Mart discovered that approximately 215,000 current and former hourly employees were overpaid by at least $20 in the last five years, but will not penalize these employees for this miscalculation. All  employees who are compensated for underpayments will be paid with interest.
Under federal law, the overtime pay rate is calculated as 1.5 times the “regular rate” of pay, which may be higher than the hourly rate because it includes all compensation, including bonuses and other earned income, in a work week, unless state law requires otherwise. Another miscalculation involved overtime payments that were recorded on a bi-weekly basis when they should have been calculated weekly. Approximately 40 percent of all employees owed more than $20 were involved in Wal-Mart’s manager and programmer in training programs and were therefore entitled to overtime pay while in training.
Employees of Wal-Mart who think they may be entitled to compensation should visit  www.dol.settlement.walmart.
com or call (888) 262-1559 ((800) 318-7442 for hearing impaired) if they have any questions.


Victory Declared in Challenge to Federal Environmental Protection Agency


Six states win big in U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City yesterday handed a major victory to Delaware and the five states involved in challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Phase II Rule, which would have essentially allowed power plants to cause more environmental harm with no regulatory control and encourage existing power plants to pollute more.
On July 26, 2004, the Delaware Department of Justice, along with the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, filed a multi-state lawsuit asking the Court of Appeals to remand the EPA’s Phase II Rule. The Second Circuit ruled yesterday that the EPA either exceeded its authority or drafted provisions that violated the Clean Water Act.
“This ruling is a major victory for the six states which took up this cause to strike down a set of regulations that are contrary to the intent of Congress in passing the Clean Water Act,” Attorney General Joseph R. Biden, III said. “This Department of Justice will remain vigilant in its effort to protect the environment around us. We will continue to pursue multi-state efforts to address regional pollution problems.”
The lawsuit specifically challenged the way the EPA regulates water intake systems at power plants. The Attorneys General challenged the EPA’s decision not to select closed-cycle cooling systems, which minimize adverse impacts on the surrounding environment, as the best technology available to older power plants. Certain provisions of the Phase II rule would make it virtually impossible to require such cooling systems at any of the nation’s older power plants.
The Phase II rule rejected the need for closed-cycle cooling systems, making it easier for existing power plants to avoid installing the best technologies available to reduce the large amounts of water currently being withdrawn from nearby oceans, bays and rivers. In addition, Phase II would allow the power plants to utilize a suite of cheaper technologies, including installing screens that prevent fish from being sucked into the plants’ massive intake flows or designing restoration projects to attempt to mitigate damage to the environment after it had already been done. The former technology has been shown to result in the death of many fish too small to be caught on the screens and those that are impaled on the screens because they are not strong enough to escape the intake flow. The latter is simply impermissible. These technologies were allegedly favored by the EPA for cost reasons.
The Second Circuit ruled that the EPA cannot consider costs in relation to benefits when selecting the best technology available, stating the “EPA must require facilities to choose the technology that permits them to achieve as much reduction of adverse environmental impacts as is technologically possible


Delaware Department of Justice Teams Up with the Ad Council for New Youth

Reckless Driving Prevention Campaign
UR the Spokesperson campaign empowers teens to ‘Speak Up’
The Delaware Department of Justice is partnering with The Advertising Council on a new campaign aimed at putting the brakes on fatal car crashes involving teens and young adults. Attorney General Joseph R. Biden, III joins the Ad Council and a coalition of state Attorneys General and consumer protection agencies, and national partners such as SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and AAA (American Automobile Association), to promote the new UR the Spokesperson campaign to prevent reckless driving and save lives. Car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens and young adults. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data show that, on average, more than 300,000 teens are injured in car crashes each year, nearly 8,000 are involved in fatal crashes and more than 3,500 are killed. NHTSA research also shows that teen drivers are involved in more than five times as many fatal crashes as adults. Young drivers are more likely to speed, run red lights, make illegal turns and die in an SUV rollover.
With the message “Speak Up,” the UR the Spokesperson campaign targets young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 and encourages them to be the spokesperson against reckless driving by empowering them to speak up when they are in the car with friends and don’t feel safe. The campaign also seeks to increase awareness about the dangers of reckless driving and educate teens on how to be safe drivers by focusing on safe speeds, avoiding distractions, and wearing seat belts.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among 15 to 20-year-olds nationally,” Biden said. “It is important that we educate teens on how to be safe drivers. That is why I have joined this campaign to encourage teens to ‘Speak Up’ for their safety.”
The UR the Spokesperson campaign includes a series of public service advertisements (PSAs), a new Web site and a soon-to-be launched contest. Created pro bono by North Castle, a Stamford-based advertising agency that specializes in reaching teens, the PSAs target teen passengers, rather than the driver, and encourage them to speak-up when they don’t feel safe. Research shows that young drivers may be more likely to listen to their friends than to adults, which is why the UR the Spokesperson campaign is using a peer-to-peer approach. When it is a friend who speaks up, a teenage driver will listen because they don’t want to damage the friendship or be labeled a bad driver.
“We want it to become not only socially acceptable, but socially expected for teens to speak up when they are riding with a friend and don’t feel safe,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “We also want to educate them about the dangers and consequences of reckless driving by reminding them to drive safely, wear their seat belts and limit distractions.”
For more information on the campaign and to see the ads, please visit www.URtheSpokesperson.com.
The Advertising Council The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness,
inspiring action and saving lives.
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Attorney General Announces 30-State Settlement with Bayer Corporation

Bayer to Register and Post Results of Clinical Trials and Pay $8 Million
Attorney General Joseph R. Biden, III today announced a settlement with Bayer Corporation over its marketing of Baycol, a drug used to lower cholesterol that was withdrawn from the market August 7, 2001. The settlement was part of a 30-state consumer protection enforcement action initiated by the states’ Attorneys General due to concerns that Bayer failed to adequately disclose safety risks associated with Baycol.
The judgment, filed today in Superior Court, requires Bayer to register most of its clinical studies and then post the results at the end of each study. The judgment also demands Bayer’s future compliance with the law in the marketing, sale and promotion of its pharmaceutical and biological products, and prohibits Bayer from making false and misleading claims relating to any such product sold in the United States. Significantly, the judgment further requires that Bayer pay a total of $8 million to the 30 participating states, with Delaware and each of the participating states receiving $200,000.
In May of 1998, Bayer introduced Baycol, a “statin” cholesterol-lowering drug, into the United States market. All statins carry a known risk of myopathy (a weakening of the muscles) and rhabdomyolysis (a more serious muscular disease). Through post-marketing surveillance of its product, Bayer learned that the risk for Baycol turned out to be significantly higher compared to other statins, particularly at higher doses and when combined with genfibrozil, another cholesterol-lowering drug. The Attorneys General allege that while Bayer informed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about these adverse effects, Bayer failed to adequately warn prescribers and consumers about them. While Bayer denies any wrongdoing in the judgment, on August 7, 2001 Bayer voluntarily withdrew Baycol from the market.

Department of Justice Reaches Agreement with Hollywood Motel

The Delaware Department of Justice reached a landmark agreement with managers of the Hollywood Motel requiring them to take specific measures to combat illegal activity on their property.
The settlement is the first of its kind in a bold new statewide Drug Nuisance Abatement Initiative announced last month to target safe havens for illegal drug and prostitution activity.
“This is a clear message that safe havens for drug dealers and prostitutes will not be tolerated by this
Department of Justice,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Richard Gebelein said. “It is a message that will be heard up and down the State of Delaware.
“This is an interim settlement that seeks to provide immediate relief to the surrounding community and make this property less hospitable to the criminal element that thrived there.”
Under the agreement, managers of the Hollywood Motel are required to:
• Employ a third-party security guard to monitor daily activities at the motel for a minimum of 60
hours each week.
• Install real-time surveillance cameras accessed via the Internet by Delaware State Police
• Construct a 6-foot fence around the perimeter of the property as well as enhance lighting on the
• Comply with a “Do-Not-Rent” list of names provided by state officials.
“To the extent that these requirements are not met,” Gebelein said, “the Department of Justice will take every action necessary to ensure the safety of the surrounding community, including but not limited to closing the premises and forfeiting the business license of the motel.”
The Attorney General’s office filed suit against the Hollywood Motel December 12, 2006, citing numerous state and county police arrests on the property for prostitution, drug distribution and possession, a homicide and various assault charges. In the last year, New Castle County and Delaware State Police have been dispatched to the motel hundreds of times. Since announcing this lawsuit, police have been dispatched only once. Seven other properties in the area were also notified that we intend to file suit against them.
The bold new initiative is a collaborative effort by the Department of Justice, Delaware State Police, State Senator David B. McBride and New Castle County Councilman George Smiley, among others.