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Consumer Fraud 1450 articles

Native Americans face discrimination applying for disability

Columnist Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota and founder of three newspapers, recently wrote a heartbreaking piece about Andy Torres, a fellow Sioux who had served his country faithfully for many years, only to have his country turn its back on him when he became injured and needed help. I read Giago’s column about Torres in the Native American Times. First, some background. Torres, obviously, is a Native American. As a Sioux Indian, he is a member of a people whose land and culture, so rich with ancient wisdom and vibrant traditions, has been trampled over by generations of new Americans. ... Read More

Unum second on list of the worst American insurance companies

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) recently ranked Unum number two in its published list of Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America. The report opens with an overview of the insurance industry’s staggering assets and wealth, which amount to just under $4 trillion – higher than the gross domestic product of every country in the world except for the U.S. and Japan. But despite the riches, despite the $1 trillion in annual premiums, and despite enormous profit margins, many insurance companies continue to employ “Deny, Delay, Defend” strategies in dealing with their policyholders. “Some companies have discovered that they can ... Read More

Jury sides with plaintiffs in Staples class action lawsuit

Misclassification of store managers is a ruse sometimes used by businesses to avoid paying certain employees overtime. As we reported in December, a federal appeals court upheld a $35.6 million judgment against Family Dollar Stores, Inc. for wrongly classifying store employees as managers and then denying them overtime pay. Last week, a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey ordered Staples, Inc., the world’s largest chain of office supply stores, to pay nearly $2.5 million to 343 plaintiffs because of similar violations to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The store managers, represented in the class action lawsuit ... Read More

Class action lawsuit against Tyson Foods will proceed

The U.S. District judge for the District of Kansas ruled this week that thousands of meatpacking workers may move forward against Tyson Foods, Inc. as a class action suit. The workers allege that they were denied overtime and other forms of compensation by the company. The ruling was a positive development for the workers, comprised mainly of Latin American immigrants who couldn’t afford to proceed individually. Hourly wage workers from Tyson’s slaughterhouses in Holcomb and Emporia, Kansas, originally filed the case in May 1006. Together, the Kansas operations employ some 3,300 hourly workers. The workers allege that Tyson owes them ... Read More

Woman crusades against epidemic of wage theft

Kim Bobo believes that employers in the United States are stealing from their workers. Not just nickels and dimes and not just in isolated incidents. She claims that the theft is rampant — that it has become a “national crisis at this moment in our nation” to the tune of $19 billion per year in unpaid overtime alone. Bobo is the founder and executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, an organization that appeals to the shared convictions of all religions in protecting the rights of the everyday worker, especially low-wage workers. Bobo alleges that in meat processing plants, retail businesses, ... Read More

Grocery chain cited for multiple child labor violations

The U.S. Department of Labor has fined Hy-Vee, Inc., a Des Moines, Iowa-based grocery chain, with multiple violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including a number of child labor violations in four of the company’s Nebraska stores. Federal investigators found 37 violations of laws restricting working hours for school age children under 18 years old. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits workers under age 18 from working more than three hours on school days, including Fridays, and eight hours on days with no school. Children ages 14 and 15 are not permitted to work past 7 p.m. on school ... Read More

Regions selling off RMK Select Funds

Today the Birmingham Business Journal reported that Regions Financial Corp., which is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., is selling off its 11 Regions Morgan Keegan (RMK) Select Funds. These funds are currently managed by Regions’ investment arm, Morgan Keegan & Co., based in Memphis. The funds will be sold to Pioneer Investment Managment, Inc., the Journal reports. The deal is pending approval by Regions shareholders, but if approved will remove the financial company from the mutual funds business entirely, according to the Journal. This news follows on the heels of other efforts by Regions to divest itself of investment funds following ... Read More

RMK fund set for liquidation

The Memphis Daily News recently reported that Hyperion Brookfield Asset Management, which in July took over administration of seven Regions Morgan Keegan funds under fire for misrepresentation, will liquidate one of the funds, pending shareholder approval. The fund in question is the Regions Morgan Keegan Select Short Term Bond Fund. Hyperion took over management of the Morgan Keegan investment arm of Regions after several funds suffered steep and sudden drops in value as a result of their connection to the subprime mortgage securities market. On Dec. 30, the Daily News announced that Hyperion had changed the names of seven former ... Read More

Insurance provider says smoke is pollution to avoid payout

Nearly everyone who has filed an insurance claim has played that exasperating game of tug of war with the adjuster on the other line who digs his feet in and won’t issue a check without a fight. The battle usually takes place over questions of liability, but interpretation of the policy can sometimes be a factor. Should your claim involve complex and easily misinterpreted terms such as “fire” and “smoke,” you had better watch out. Cincinnati-based Great American Insurance Group is trying to wrest itself from a potential $25 million responsibility by claiming that the smoke that killed three people ... Read More

RMK funds change names to reflect new Helios brand

According to a report in the Memphis Commercial Appeal today, seven former Regions Morgan Keegan investment funds have changed their names, and six have new trading symbols. The changes reflect the change in management from Regions Financial to Hyperion Brookfield Asset Management, which took over the troubled investment arm in July. Each fund name now starts with Helio, which is Hyperion’s brand name. The Commercial Appeal quotes Marion Hayes, a spokesperson for Hyperion, as saying, “It’s not right for these funds to be named Regions Morgan Keegan funds when they’re managed by us.” The change affects four closed-end funds and ... Read More