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Werner acquires Bailey Ladders

BY HBSDealer Staff

Werner has expanded its ladder empire through the acquisition of the Bailey Ladder business unit from Hills Holdings Limited. The move will help expand its presence in the Australia and New Zealand markets, where Bailey was the leading ladder manufacturer.

"This strategic acquisition will build on our global infrastructure and create additional value to grow our company for our employees, customers and shareholders," said William T. Allen, president and CEO at Werner Company.

Perviously, Werner had a presence in the Asia Pacific region through its climbing products. The addition of Bailey’s ladders and climbing equipment promises to strengthen the company’s stance, the company said.

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Smart Electric turns to Kickstarter to fund its bright idea

BY HBSDealer Staff

Smart Electric is proposing a solution to the problem of bedtime jitters and energy inefficiency with its Smart Bulb collection of innovative lighting products. To fund the manufacturing and marketing of this first-ever line of consumer products, the company has launched a Kickstarter campaign.

The bulbs contain computer chips that are programmed to perform simple tasks, such as fading to a night light level over the course of 20 minutes to ease young children to sleep. In addition to the Smart Bulb Dimming Night Light, the collection includes the Smart Bulb Emergency Flasher (which can alerty energy responders, party guests or delivery professionals to a location); Smart Bulb 4-Level Dimmer (which features four lighting levels); Smart Bulb 10-Minute and 30-Minute Auto Offs (which turn bulbs off automatically when they’re not in use); and the Smart Bulb Cycle Timer (which can be programmed to turn on and off at certain times throughout the day).

"After generations of using traditional ‘dumb’ light bulbs that were limited in functionality and hiring electricians for custom installations, our team developed technology that delivers lighting solutions for consumers without the need for expensive remote dimmers and timers," said Smart Electric president and CEO Stan Angelo.

The bulbs, which are coated and shatter-resistant, fit standard base sockets and are designed to outlast standard bulbs by two or three times.

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EEOC targets employers screening for old convictions

BY Allen Smith

Criminal convictions should have an expiration date and shouldn’t be considered indefinitely by employers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) indicated in a pair of lawsuits filed June 11, 2013.

Dollar General lawsuit

The EEOC also sued Dolgencorp, doing business as Dollar General, in Chicago. For 10 years Dollar General made certain types of convictions a disqualifying factor.

One of the applicants who filed a charge with the EEOC was given a conditional employment offer, despite having disclosed a six-year-old conviction for possession of a controlled substance. She had worked for another discount retailer as a cashier-stocker for four years. Her job offer, however, was revoked.

Another candidate was rejected when the conviction-records-check report indicated she had a felony conviction even though she did not.

“Since issuing its first written policy guidance in the 1980s regarding the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, the EEOC has advised employers that under certain circumstances, their use of that information to deny employment opportunities could be at odds with Title VII,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien.

In a statement, Dollar General denied the EEOC’s allegations and said it would vigorously defend itself against them in litigation.

“Dollar General is an equal opportunity employer and prohibits discrimination in its hiring and employment practices,” the company said. “Like most retailers and other employers, Dollar General has a policy of using criminal background checks to determine if an individual meets its criteria for employment. Dollar General’s criminal-background-check process is structured to foster a safe and healthy environment for its employees, its customers and to protect its assets in a lawful, reasonable and nondiscriminatory manner.”

BMW lawsuit

The EEOC also filed suit against BMW Manufacturing in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina, Spartanburg Division, alleging that the company’s criminal conviction policy unlawfully screens out blacks from jobs and is not job-related and consistent with business necessity.

The car manufacturer’s policy denies facility access to BMW workers and employees of contractors with certain criminal convictions and has no time limit on convictions. “The policy is a blanket exclusion without any individualized assessment of the nature and gravity of the crimes, the ages of the convictions or the nature of the claimants’ respective positions,” the EEOC stated.

The claimants were originally employees at UTi Integrated Logistics, which provided logistic services to BMW at the South Carolina facility. UTi’s criminal background check is limited to convictions within the past seven years.

In 2008, UTi ended its contract with BMW. UTi employees had to reapply for their BMW warehouse positions with the new contracting firm. As part of the application process, BMW made the contracting company perform new criminal background checks on all UTi employees applying for jobs. The new contractor discovered that several UTi workers had criminal convictions. They were told they no longer met the criteria for working at the BMW facility, even though many had been there for years.

BMW did not return a call for comment.

Allen Smith, J.D., is the manager of workplace law content for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMlegaleditor.

Have HR-related questions and concerns? Get access to essential forms, policies and guides, plus a live call center, at ToolkitHR.com, powered by HCN and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

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