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7 posts from November 2010


'Swirly' fears caused garbage company to toss out dyslexic worker, lose $95,000

The nation’s third largest waste disposal company will pay $95,000 to settle a disability suit in which they fired a man out of fear that his dyslexia would cause him to see things “swirly.”

And here we thought swirly meant sticking someone’s head in the toilet and flushing, which is, on second thought, kind of what they did to this guy.  Flushy

Apparently the folks working at a subsidiary of IESI Corporation — yes, we’re talking about garbage here — were concerned the employee would have an accident, perhaps such as erroneously rearranging the letters in a word like “bass ackwards.”

According to a federal suit, on the morning of August 12, 2005, a former truck driver, Ronald Harper, told his new supervisor that he is dyslexic. Just four hours later, the supervisor fired Harper, stating that he did not want to take the chance of Harper’s dyslexia causing problems. 

After contending for five years that Harper did not have a disability and that he was not fired because of a disability, IESI admitted shortly before a scheduled trial date that Harper does have a disability, that he was qualified to do his job and that IESI dismissed him because of his disability in violation of federal law, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit. IESI further conceded that the supervisor who fired Harper had failed to engage in the interactive process regarding reasonable accommodation required by federal law. 

“I am grateful to the EEOC for seeking justice on my behalf,” the man said. “I felt really good about the work I was doing and the compliments co-workers and other supervisors gave me on my performance. Then the company fired me out of the blue, just because I am dyslexic. Nobody had ever spoken to me like that in my life. For the first time in five years, I have my confidence back. I am also glad that the EEOC will be able to monitor the company to make sure that what happened to me does not happen to someone else with a disability.”

-- Darren Barbee


Scam artists target the desperate: organ transplant patients

As if transplant patients don’t have enough problems, the Federal Trade Commission recently raised the alert that scammers may be trying to trick patients into paying for that special organ on their wish list.

Organdonation Apparently, folks waiting for organ transplants are contact by phone and are asked to provide money in exchange for receiving a donor organ. That’s not kosher with federal law, we’re afraid. It’s unlawful to buy or sell organs for transplant in the United States. (We hear they’re cheaper in Canada anyway.)

As of Nov. 23, about 109,000 people are awaiting transplants, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. The FTC asks that those contacted by any organ for cash program should contact the agency via the Internet or by phone at 1-877-382-4357.

-- Darren Barbee


And the Burro goes to... thieving CFO who ripped off sexually abused children

You know you’ve gone over to the dark side when you steal money from children who have suffered sexual abuse. 
Donkeywarning A rare triple Burro of the Week goes to Marvin Perry, former CFO of the National Children’s Alliance, and his two accomplices, who also messed over people who are victims of domestic violence. Just in time for the holidays, Perry, 45, of Waldorf, Md, was given one year incarceration and ordered to pay restitution of $64,390, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Donkeys Perry will be on 36 months of supervised release when he gets out. Perry shared responsibility for annual budgeting, cash management plans, and other projections. He supervised the accounting staff, managed employee benefits worked with the Executive Director and other  important jobs. From the end of October 2005 until December 2007, Perry embezzled cash in the form of additional paychecks to which he and other Alliance employees were not entitled. He pleaded guilty to theft in June. The other burros were Sharon Martin, who pleaded to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. A judge gave her five years of probation and ordered her to serve six months of home detention and pay restitution of $15,857. And Michael Young also pleaded guilty to second degree theft. He was sentenced to 180 days incarceration. The execution of that sentence was suspended, except for two days (a weekend in prison). The judge also placed Young on 24 months of probation, and ordered him to make restitution of $9,479.20. 
-- Darren Barbee


Medal of Honor: First living recipient in 40 years honored at White House

Note: Watchdog almost always writes, researches and publishes items on this blog. We take pride in generating content, not linking to other items. However, today we found a story we thought we ought to share about a brave young man who, in the thick of battle, served his country with distinction and the highest gallantry. 


By Karen Parrish

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2010 – President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor today to the first living servicemember to receive the distinction for service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
During a White House ceremony, the commander in chief of what he called “the finest military that the world has ever known” awarded the medal to Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta for heroic action in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley on Oct. 25, 2007.
“Since the end of the Vietnam War, the Medal of Honor has been awarded nine times for conspicuous gallantry in an ongoing or recent conflict. Sadly, our nation has been unable to present this decoration to the recipients themselves, because each gave his life, his last full measure of devotion, for his country,” Obama said.
“Today, therefore, marks the first time in nearly 40 years that the recipient of the Medal of Honor for an ongoing conflict has been able to come to the White House and accept this recognition in person,” the president said.
The Medal of Honor is the highest military award a servicemember can receive for valor in action against a combatant force. Giunta’s Medal of Honor is the eighth awarded to troops serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The previous seven awards all have been posthumous.
“It is my privilege to present our nation’s highest military decoration … to a soldier as humble as he is heroic,” the president said. “I’m going to go off script here for a second and just say, ‘I really like this guy.’”
Cheers and applause followed.
“When you meet Sal and you meet his family,” Obama continued, “you are just absolutely convinced that this is what America is all about. So this is a joyous occasion for me.”
During Giunta’s first of two tours in Afghanistan, his team leader gave him a piece of advice, Obama said: “You’ve just got to try to do everything you can when it’s your time to do it.”
The president then described the events that led to today’s medal presentation.
“He was a specialist then, just 22 years old. Sal and his platoon were several days into a mission in the Korengal Valley, the most dangerous valley in northeast Afghanistan,” Obama said.
Giunta was serving as a rifle team leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. That October evening, his squad ran into an insurgent ambush.
The platoon’s soldiers had spent the day in an overwatch position and were heading back to their base camp. Giunta’s squad moved out first and came under enemy fire.
“It was an ambush so close that the cracks of the guns and the whiz of the bullets were simultaneous,” the president said. “The Apache gunships overhead saw it all, but couldn’t engage with the enemy so close to our soldiers.”
When the ambush split Giunta's squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a squad mate back to cover. Later, while returning fire and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Giunta saw two insurgents carrying away a wounded fellow soldier, Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan.
“Sal never broke stride,” Obama said. “He leapt forward, he took aim, he killed one of the insurgents and wounded the other, who ran off. Sal found his friend alive, but badly wounded. He had saved him from the enemy. Now he had to try to save his life.”
Giunta provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. Brennan, 22, from McFarland, Wis., died the next day during surgery. A medic, Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza, 29, of Glendale, Ariz., also died.
“It had been as intense and violent a firefight as any soldier will experience,” the president said. “By the time it was finished, every member of first platoon had shrapnel or a bullet hole in their gear. Five were wounded, and two gave their lives.”
Obama said Giunta is a “low-key guy” who doesn’t seek the limelight.
“Your actions disrupted a devastating ambush before it could claim more lives,” the president said to Giunta. “Your courage prevented the capture of an American soldier and brought that soldier back to his family. You may believe you don’t deserve this honor, but it was your fellow soldiers who recommended you for it.”
Obama asked members of Giunta’s team from that day who were present at the ceremony to stand and be recognized.
“Gentlemen, thank you for your service,” Obama said. “We’re all in your debt, and I’m proud to be your commander in chief.”
America’s highly trained and battle-hardened servicemembers all have one thing in common, Obama said: they volunteer.
“In an era when it’s never been more tempting to chase personal ambition or narrow self-interest, they chose the opposite,” he said. “For the better part of a decade, they have endured tour after tour in distant and difficult places. They have protected us from danger. They have given others the opportunity to earn a better and more secure life.”
Obama quoted something Giunta said shortly after he learned he would receive the Medal of Honor.
“‘If I’m a hero,’ Sal has said, ‘Then every man who stands around me, every woman in the military, every person who defends this country is.’ And he’s right,” the president said. “This medal today is a testament to his uncommon valor, but also to the parents and the community that raised him, the military that trained him, and all the men and women who served by his side.”
Today’s servicemembers represent a small fraction of the nation’s population, Obama said.
“But they and the families who await their safe return carry far more than their fair share of our burden. They do it in hopes that our children and grandchildren won’t have to,” he said. “They are the very best part of us. … They are why our banner still waves, our founding principles still shine. They are why our country, the United States of America, still stands as a force for good all over the world.”
The president stood beside the staff sergeant as the Medal of Honor citation was read, and then fastened the distinctive blue ribbon suspending the medal around Giunta’s neck.
Giunta stood at attention as the crowd applauded and cheered. Finally, when the clapping continued without abating, the young man smiled.
Giunta was born Jan. 21, 1985, in Clinton, Iowa, and grew up in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha, Iowa. His parents, Steven and Rosemary Giunta, live in Hiawatha. He has a younger brother, Mario, and a younger sister, Katie.
Giunta enlisted in the Army in November 2003, and completed basic and infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga. He married Jennifer Lynn Mueller, a native of Dubuque, Iowa, in October 2009.
Giunta completed two combat tours in Afghanistan with the 173rd, from March 2005 to March 2006 and from May 2007 to August 2008. He currently is stationed at the unit’s home base near Vicenza, Italy, while the brigade is once more deployed to Afghanistan.
Giunta’s wife, parents and siblings accompanied him to the White House for today’s medal presentation.
Also attending today’s ceremony were First Lady Michelle Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, members of Congress, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Army Secretary John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Here is the text of Giunta’s Medal of Honor citation:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded, in the name of Congress, the Medal of Honor to Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta, United States Army. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, on October 25, 2007.
While conducting a patrol as team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, Specialist Giunta and his team were navigating through harsh terrain when they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force. While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover, and administered medical aid. While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon.
Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element.
Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security.
Specialist Giunta’s unwavering courage, selflessness, and decisive leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American soldier from the enemy. Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, and the United States Army. 



What were they smoking? Turkeys may cause listeria hysteria

With Thanksgiving clucking closer, concern over tainted T-birds is prompting a recall by New Braunfels Smokehouse, which is a shame because smoked turkey is delicious and doesn’t require pulling a little bag of Turkeyfrozen internal organs from a dark cavity.
The company is recalling approximately 2,609 pounds of fully cooked, ready-to-eat smoked turkey breast products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
The recall is for:
New Braunfels Smokehouse Sliced Smoked Turkey
New Braunfels Honey-Glazed Spiral Sliced Smokehouse Hickory Smoked Boneless Breast of Turkey
Stegall Boneless Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast
Stegall Spiral Sliced Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast
The turkey is distributed nationwide through catalog and Internet sales.

-- Darren Barbee


Children's wear company fired pregnant employee

Talk about losing a future customer: A woman who worked at Happy Days Children’s Wear will get $22,500 after the company settled a lawsuit in which it was accused of firing her shortly after discovering that she was pregnant.
Baby The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit against the company, which has stores in Brooklyn and Queens. 
"The law expressly protects pregnant women from discrimination and prohibits employers from taking adverse action against them," said Judy Keenan, acting regional attorney of the EEOC's New York District Office.  "The EEOC will continue to fight for these women's rights."  
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Happy Days Children's Wear fired a female employee, who had been employed with the company for seven years, shortly after discovering that she was pregnant.  The EEOC also accused the company of giving multiple and inconsistent explanations for terminating the woman.

-- Darren Barbee

Now hair this: Someone out there is pretending to be a cosmetology inspector

Be on the lookout for a person (gender unknown) who is pretending to be a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation cosmetology inspector.
We know: It's impossible to stop them all.
At any rate, the Cuticle Creep (copyright, Watchdog) has struck at a shop in Laredo and fiendishly Feet  
Remember, TDLR inspectors will identify themsleves with a department-issued ID badge. Get a business card for your records. And be aware that TDLR inspectors will never ask you for personal information, money, a check or payment of any kind.
If you receive a violation during an inspection you will be contacted by TDLR’s enforcement division to finalize the action. (Evil cackling is part of the process, so just ignore that.)
“The TDLR inspector will leave a copy of the violation with you and WILL NOT ask for payment,” according to the TDLR.
Apprehending this person may be difficult as the Cuticle Creep is said to have recently underwent a fruit enzyme peel and is feeling relaxed and smooth to the touch.

-- Darren Barbee