Members of Congressional Committee Question Whether Amazon Executives Misled Congress

Posted by Caroline Schwier.

Facing charges for lying under oath and possibly misleading Congress, Amazon executives are under investigation. Congress is searching for evidence to prove that the several executive member’s sworn testimony was provided to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee in 2019 and 2020. This piece of evidence will prove whether or not Amazon’s executives are guilty of interpreting data from third party and private sellers to boost sales within their own brand. The article even quotes that Congress has written in the letter, “’We strongly encourage you to make use of this opportunity to correct the record and provide the Committee with sworn, truthful, and accurate responses to this request as we consider whether a referral of this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation is appropriate,’”. If Amazon’s executives are unable to provide adequate evidence to verify their innocence, Congress will be taking the case to a more serious level. 

 In response, an Amazon spokesperson elaborated on how the company has an internal policy which forbids individual seller data to be interpreted and recycled into Amazon products. However, last year’s Wall Street Journal contradicts this statement and reports that employees of Amazon regularly reversed engineered best sellers to appear as their own brand. After Congress further recited the Journal, Amazon responded how the information reported was false and misrepresentation of their services while proceeding to refuse to answer any questions that followed. Additionally, Congress discussed the matter with Amazon’s products regarding Ring doorbells and Fire TV. In another investigation, Congress discovered Amazon prevents competitors from buying search spaces and ultimately boosts their own sales. Amazon did not directly confront these findings but rather discussed how it is common practice for retailers to choose what they promote. Amazon is a part of the four technology companies investigated by the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee. And just last year, the Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee decided that Amazon along with Facebook, Apple, and Alphabet have monopoly power. Overall, Congress is determined to ensure that Amazon is using ethical and proper business policies in their everyday operations. 

After learning more about the investigations Congress is holding on Amazon, there are various business practices which sound problematic. Being such a large online marketplace, Amazon’s third party and private sellers have the right to ensure their product is being protected. Amazon’s executives agreeing to this right and then altering data to benefit their own products is a very inappropriate and unethical business policy. Additionally, the contradicting statement in a previous Journal provides more reason as to why Congress would start an investigation. The second investigation which provides evidence that Amazon is reducing competition by limiting their search opportunities also builds a case against the company to prove their guilty. In conclusion, Amazon does not have any evidence or proof other than their own word to combat the accusations made against them. Therefore, I believe that Amazon executives need to reevaluate their business practices to ensure a safe marketplace and fair competition. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/members-of-congressional-committee-question-if-amazon-executives-misled-congress-11634551201?mod=business_lead_pos2

Caroline is a marketing major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2024.

Facebook Agrees to Pay Over $14 Million in Settlement Over Discrimination Against Workers

Posted by Ryan Callahan.

An article published on October 19 by the Wall Street Journal, talks about how Facebook agreed to pay penalties of over $14 million due to findings by the Justice Department that Facebook’s hiring practices purposely discriminated against U.S workers in favor of foreign workers. In addition, Facebook agreed in a settlement with the Labor Department to do more to recruit U.S. workers for technology related jobs and to be subject to federal scrutiny for up to three years. These agreements came after Facebook was sued by the Justice Department in December for allegedly failing to advertise around 2,600 jobs properly and consider applications from U.S. citizens. These jobs were offered to foreign workers the company was sponsoring for green cards to grant permanent residency in 2018 and 2019. The lawsuit stated that Facebook’s practices violated federal laws that require employers to demonstrate that there are no U.S. workers available that are qualified before offering positions to foreign workers they are sponsoring. As a result, Facebook has agreed to pay up to $9.5 million to the eligible victims of the alleged discrimination and a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the U.S government. The Justice Department will work with the company to determine possible victims, but at the time it was said to be too early to know how many people are eligible for damages. 

As a part of the settlement, Facebook has agreed to train employees on federal anti-discrimination requirements and to have their petitions for temporary visa holders audited by the Labor Department for the next three years. In a statement, Facebook said that they believe they met the standards of the federal government under federal law, but they agreed to settle the case so they can put this behind them and move forward. Facebook also said that the settlements with the federal government “will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the U.S. and around the world, and supporting our international community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence” (Nakamura and Zakrzewski). The settlement reflects the growing focus among Democrats to regulate big tech firms. This is seen in the nomination of large tech critics into key administration positions. For years, Facebook has tried to increase the ranks of high-skilled foreign laborers in the U.S. to power its highly technological operations, including programs such as the H-1B visa. The Justice Department said that Facebook changed its traditional hiring process when they wanted to hire an employee on an H-1B visa for a permanent position. Federal law generally allows a company to sponsor a temporary worker for a permanent position only when there is no qualified U.S. applicant. The lawsuit found that if a U.S. worker applied for one of the jobs, and Facebook determined they were qualified, the company appeared to hire them in a different capacity. 

Times are changing and the government is cracking down on big tech firms. The Democrats are concerned with the power the big tech firms have and want to control it. By penalizing Facebook with more than more than $14 million in fines, the government is sending a message to big tech firms that they will be scrutinized for their business practices. The agreements came after Facebook was sued by the Justice Department for allegedly failing to advertise jobs properly and consider applications from U.S. citizens before the spots were offered to foreign workers. At the time the article was written, it was too early to determine the possible victims, but the Justice department is working to figure that out. As a result, Facebook agreed to do more to recruit U.S. workers for technology related jobs. Although the fine is a small one compared to Facebook’s worth, it has sent a strong message to all big tech firms.

Ryan is a sports management major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2024.

Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/facebook-discrimination-settlement/2021/10/19/7d7f4b34-30f6-11ec-a1e5-07223c50280a_story.html

Wrongful Practice Happening at World’s Largest Corporation

Posted by Tyler Fearon.

This huge retail corporation, also known as Walmart, was sued for the wrongful firing of Marlo Spaeth, an employee with down syndrome after working there for almost 16 years. This had not been the first incident with Walmart as attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin, Monica Murphy, had represented six Wisconsin women with disabilities in the previous years. A main issue that disabled people such as Spaeth faced, was Walmart “refusing to accommodate these workers and instead took away their hours or forced them to take unpaid leave.” This decision by Walmart is unethical because they are discriminating against people with disabilities and disregarding their rights within the workplace. For example, a worker with disabilities needs accommodations that a worker without disabilities needs putting them at a disadvantage for work. Spaeth had been working at Walmart for more than ten years “folding towels, tidying aisles, and helping customers.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s main argument was how this corporation unfairly fired Spaeth rather than making the accommodations necessary for her disability. Equal opportunity is a colossal issue within the workplace because employers like Walmart would rather let go of a qualified person with a disability and give the job to a “normal person.”

Back in July of 2021, the court ruled that Walmart had violated a federal law. They ordered the corporation to pay more than $ 125 million in damages becoming one of the highest amounts in history for a single victim. After the ruling, the judge brought the money damages down to $ 300,000 which is the most allowed under this specific law. This was the right decision by the jurors as Spaeth was being wrongfully discriminated and she lost her job as a result. Currently, there is a holdup between Walmart and the EEOC to determine if the “nation’s largest private employer will face tighter supervision or be forced to make changes to its corporate policies.” I believe that there should be a committee to ensure that disabled people are being treated fairly and are receiving the accommodations necessary to fulfill their duties as an employee. Also, a revision of company policies would bring drastic changes in creating a positive and safe work environment for all employees with disabilities. After implementing these new changes, we can prevent this issue from arising time after time.

Walmart has claimed that they accommodate thousands of people with disabilities every year and even went so far to refute the EEOC’s request for more supervision. The corporation’s main argument was how they did not overstep the Americans with Disabilities Act and there was no evidence that they would do this to future employees. On the contrary, attorney Murphy claimed that Walmart began to utilize a “computerized scheduling system.” This new system had altered employees work schedules and the corporation denied fixing their hours. It is very unfair how these employees had been working on this schedule for many years and now Walmart steps in to change them. For example, two longtime employees with disabilities were fired when they said they would not be able to work eight-hour shifts and they had never returned to work. Workers should be given the choice to continue working on their own schedules or change to the schedule given by this computer system. These corporations are taking advantage of people with disabilities as they are basically saying take the schedule, we give you or we are firing you. In conclusion, I feel that there must be something in place to monitor the operations of employers in order to prevent the discrimination Spaeth and many others have faced from happening.

Tyler is a sports managmeent major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2024.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/15/disability-attorney-walmarts-firing-of-down-syndrome-woman-is-part-of-pattern.html

FDA Grants Full Approval to Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine, Opening Door to More Vaccine Mandates

Posted by Isabella Nigro.

The article, FDA Grants full approval to Pfizer/BioNTech Codiv-19 vaccine, opeing door to more vaccine mandates, by CNN, goes into detail about how the Pfizer/bioNTech covid-19 vaccine is the first carona virus vaccine to be fully approved by the FDA. Around the world, all ages, races, and religions have been effected in some way by the Corona virus outbreak. In America esspeically, citizens have been in denial of wanting to recieve the vaccine from any of the three brad options being distributed to the community. Over 170 million Americans have been vacinated sicne the option has become available to Citizens. The medicine was first authorized to be released as Emergency Use because of the severity of the pandemic. 

With the FDA finally approving the Pfizer vaccine, people who have been worried about the administrative law regaring the vacine can now choose to get this dose. “While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA approved Covid-19 vaccine, the public can be confident that this vaccine meets the FDA’s gold standard for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality that we require for an approved product,” FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said during a briefing on Monday, calling the approval “a pivotal moment” for the United States’ fight against the coronavirus pandemic.” While there was not a very large number of the population that was waiting for the vacine to become FDA approved, there was still a vast amount of people that once they heard the news they then went to get vacninated.

No matter what the situation, when taking medicine or anything that is realted to your health, it is always important to make sure you know what you are putting into your body. With the FDA having a clear approval for the drug, those who have been waiting for mroe conformation to recieve the shot will now most likely become more inclined to recieve it. Out of personal belief, I do not think it is fair for those who do not want to recieve the vaccine for personal and religious reasons should not be forced to out something into their bodies in order to still be able to fully participate as a equal in society. 

Isabella is a business major at Seton Hall University, Stillman School of Business, Class of 2024.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/23/health/fda-approval-pfizer-covid-vaccine/index.html

Corporate Action on the Issue of Diversity Among Law Firms

Posted by Amritha Pillai. 

The lack of diversity in the workplace is a growing issue in many fields and even extends to both the legal and corporate worlds. However, in the article “Diversity at Elite Law Firms Is So Bad Clients Are Docking Fees” by Ellen Milligan and Todd Gillespie, the authors discuss how corporations are using this lack of diversity to their advantage. Many large global companies such as Facebook and HP have threatened law firms to cease collaboration if diversity continues to be lacking. This isn’t a threat that law firms can take lightly, as these major corporations bring  in large amounts of money, thus law firms are forced to consider this problem head on. What I found to be most interesting was that in the article it stated, “It’s not that the companies pushing for change are models of diversity. Most have their own distinct struggles with representation.” (Gillespie and Milligan 2021). This issue is on both sides of the equation; however, corporations are more concerned because they fear that they have more to lose. Many law firms are being run in a highly influenced manner. Often one or a select few individuals are charged with making major decisions and the rest of the firm tends to follow. The fear is that without diversity, there is a lack of questioning and creativity. Therefore, these corporations feel that they are not getting the best resources available to them. 

This push for diversity has been an on-going battle, however law firms have been slower at addressing this issue. This can be seen by simply observing the numbers. The article stated, “Women make up a little more than a quarter of partners at 10 of the most prestigious firms on either side of the Atlantic” (Gillespie and Milligan 2021). This is a concerning statistic, as this is purely based on gender and has not even stepped into the realm of race or economics. The article went on to state, “About 10% of partners at U.S. firms are people of color,” and, “Racial minorities make up only 8% of U.K.-based partners at elite British firms” (Gillespie and Milligan 2021). Once again, a staggering number because this is just an indication that majority of the field is comprised on people belonging to the same race and same gender. This only backs the idea that the lack of diversity is an ever-growing issue. 

HP Inc. was one of the first companies to really push this issue and went as far as to say that they would refrain from paying a percent of the fees if diversity benchmarks were not met (Gillespie and Milligan 2021). Facebook then followed suit but had their own conditions. Facebook required “half the lawyers on its external U.S. legal teams are diverse—in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability status— “. Similar to HP, Facebook also threatened to withhold fees if these requirements were not met. The only solution in sight is the growth of diversity among young lawyers who can incorporate themselves into major positions in these law firms in the years to come. While reading the article, I questioned whether corporations held the power to make such demanding requests. However, given that they are paying for a service I think that wanting the best representation is something in the realm of their control. I also think that diversity is important for the world as a whole, because at this point, many aspects of society are tailored to people from one specific background. However, it is important to cater to the needs of people stemming from various different identities and backgrounds.

Amritha is a biology major at Seton Hall University.

Article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-05/big-law-has-a-diversity-problem-and-corporate-clients-are-stepping-in

Amazon Sends Message to Counterfieters

Posted by Alexander Gomez.

On September 30th Amazon settled with TikTok and Instagram influencers regarding their involvement in peddling counterfeit goods through the Amazon store. The influencers being Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sabrina Kelly-Kreji will be barred from ever selling products through the Amazon marketplace. Although Amazon refused to disclose the financial aspect of the settlement this situation comes as a constant reminder of the challenges Amazon faces. Since the introduction of the Amazon marketplace which encouraged third party selling; counterfeit products have always been a trouble for the corporation. However, “The marketplace, launched in 2000, is made up of millions of third-party sellers and now accounts for more than half of Amazon’s overall e-commerce sales.”(Palmer) so naturally Amazon has chosen to crack down on counterfeit products.

Amazon in an effect to curb counterfeit merchandise being sold on their platform has elected to chase down these criminals in court. Amazon has even introduced several programs to aid in the crackdown of this practice. They have even rolled out a Counterfeit Crimes Unit which is comprised of several former federal prosecutors. In this aspect we know how serious Amazon carries their marketplace.

Within my own opinion I think it is good that Amazon is cracking down on these counterfeiters. As mentioned before if the marketplace attributes to much of its e commerce sales it is good to take legal action against these criminals. However, Amazon did also mention that most of the defendants for these counterfeiters are in China. In this regard Amazon has a great obstacle to overcome but this is a good first step for Amazon to start the crackdown process.

Alex is a fintech major at Seton Hall University, Stillman School of Business, Class of 2024.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/30/amazon-settles-with-influencers-who-allegedly-ran-counterfeit-scheme.html?&qsearchterm=amazon%20lawsuit

You’re a Leader. But You Can’t Stomach What Your Company is Doing.

Posted by Robert Benites.

Are you in a certain position of command at your job? Maybe you are a manger or a supervisor.  If you ever had the question, how do I know if something is ethical or not? Or if the company you are apart of is doing something illegal. Who do you tell? The article gives every employee tip on how to report unethical or illegal behavior in the workplace if you are someone in the hierarchy. If you see something in the workplace that is unusual or not supposed to be permitted by your company’s rules you should start by seeing if you boss is involved in making these decisions. By staying internal first, you can see who you can trust within the company.

If you find out that your boss is making the unethical or illegal decisions, then you should still seek help internally. The article suggests that if you find another manager who is on the same level of hierarchy as you; you can talk with this coworker and discuss a plan to approach your boss and discuss what is happening is wrong. If you can’t find a manager or another boss in different department it might be time to recruit any coworkers based off any work experience level.  If all this doesn’t work, it might be time to “blow the whistle”. This term basically means that instead of continuing to try and work internally to stop a problem you should reach out to agencies or authorities. A company you should contact is the SEC as they have rewarded a total of $387 million to 72 whistleblowers in the past 8 years.

The last thing that is discussed in this article is to avoid staying quiet. It is actually very common for people who see something wrong in the workplace to stay quiet because they are scared of the aftermath.  If you stay quiet, there is a good chance you can develop chronic stress on your body and mind and if tampered with enough you can start to feel depressed. I personally enjoyed reading this article as it is very informative, and I believe it is important for all kinds of employees to read this article. I believe it can help everyone out in the long run if they see any unethical or illegal actions happening in the workplace.

Robert is a business management student at Seton Hall University, Stillman School of Business, Class of 2023.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/29/success/executives-values-ethics-conflict/index.html

The Supreme Court Agreed to Consider the EPA’s Authority to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Posted by Grace Duffy.

The Supreme Court has recently decided to consider the Environmental Protection agency’s (EPA) authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions. West Virginia leads the legal battle against the EPA in defense of coal companies and energy producing states. The Supreme Court will consider if the EPA is “going too far” with their plan to regulate and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of energy companies. The coal companies and energy producing states are appealing a lower court’s ruling which restored some of the power and authority EPA lost during Trump’s administration.

The lawsuit led by West Virginia argued that Congress did not give the EPA the authority they claim to have. The coal companies and energy producing states said the greenhouse gas restrictions the EPA wants to impose are impossible for a power plant to uphold. Power plants burn coal and natural gas to create energy, so they naturally produce a lot of greenhouse gases. However, the lower court ruled in the EPA’s favor. The Plaintiffs say this ruling gives the EPA power to excessively restrict other sources of greenhouse gases such as factories, hospitals, hotels, and even homes. They state that giving this power to the EPA will have “tremendous costs and consequences for all Americans.”

The Clean Air Act is also involved in this case. The Clean Air Act states that the EPA must find the “best system of emissions reduction” for the current pollution sources and that they must work with states to come up with a pollution control plan. Biden’s Administration did not want the Supreme Court to consider this appeal. The Supreme Court’s decision may make it tougher for Biden’s Administration to impose stricter greenhouse gas emission regulations. These stricter regulations on greenhouse gases would help the U.S. solve the issue of climate change by moving electricity production away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case this spring with a decision possibly made by June.

Grace is majoring in accounting at Seton Hall University, Stillman School of Business, Class of 2023.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/supreme-court-agrees-consider-epa-s-authority-limit-greenhouse-gasses-n1282751

Tesla Must Pay $137 Million to Ex-Worker Over Hostile Work Environment

Posted by Angel Pagan.

A San Fransico court ordered that Tesla has to pay 137 million to an ex-worker due to the racist work environment. The worker was Owen Diaz and he was hired through a Staffing Agency in 2015. He reported that many of his coworkers would degrade him and say “Go back to Africa” to other black coworkers. They also left racist graffiti in bathrooms and other work evironments. The case was only allowed to move forward because Diaz did not sign one of Tesla’s arbitration agreements. 

In my opinion I think Tesla is definitely in the wrong for not putting a stop to any of this. A coporation needs to make their work environment safe and welcoming for their workers. This news not only makes Tesla look bad, but also Elon Musk. Also, this is not the first time Tesla has had to settle disputes like this, but usually they are behind closed doors due to these arbitration agreements. People also belive that these agreements can hide serious stuff like sexual harrassment and other racial injustices at the work place through quiet settlements. 

Tesla’s board also advised shareholders to vote against reporting the impacts of mandatory arbitration agreements. Instead of Tesla constantly dealing with these settlements they should focus on cleaning up their workplace. They should either enforce better rules about this kind of behavior in the workplace or hire better human beings. 

Angel is a student at Seton Hall University.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/05/tesla-must-pay-137-million-to-ex-worker-over-hostile-work-environment-racism.html

Florida Sues Biden Administration Over Vaccine Mandates

Posted by John Schwimmer.


Republican Govern Ron DeSantis vows to sue the Biden Administration over mask and vaccine mandates. DeSantis claims that the president does not have the power to issue any rule that violates the procurement law. DeSantis has fought the mask and vaccination mandates since the beginning of Covid-19. He said that he is going to call lawmakers together to make laws to stop private business in Florida enforcing mask and vaccine mandates. He even filed the case in Tampa Florida and has Biden, as well as other white house officials as defendants. 

The federal mask mandate for federal contractors is to go into effect on December 7. It has also been announced that all private business will mandate the vaccine or weekly testing. The Biden Administration hopes the mandates will work to put an end to the almost 800,000 American deaths. Republicans have argued these mandates nationwide. The Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to the Biden Administration saying the mandate is unjust and is on “shaky legal ground”. The Republican party seems to support DeSantis’s claims and pursuit in the court system. 

The question then is if DeSantis has legal ground to stand on. He claims that Biden does not have the power to make a mandate like this. The Republican State Attorneys General office claims that there is no statue that allows the president to make a mandate like this on both public and private business. DeSantis has made moves for legal action against the whole administration and other officials. In my own opinion I do not think that this case will stand, I do not believe that DeSantis has legal ground. I believe it is within a Presidents power to make a mandate that is federal wide.

John is an accounting major at Seton Hall University, Stillman School of Business, Class of 2024.

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/10/28/1050131916/desantis-florida-vaccine-mandate-lawsuit