Three steps to a lawsuit proof hiring process. Supervisors and HR professionals can only discriminate against applicants if they know the applicant belongs to a protected class ( age, sex, race, disability ect) So the best way to prevent lawsuits is to ensure a blind hiring process

  1. Accept applications almost exclusively online Instruct applicants to remove firth dates and graduation dates from resumes and exclude personal information from cover letters
  2. Have someone who will not be involved in the interview process review the applications and make initial availability calls.
  3. Screen applications with computer software that looks for pertinent experience, education and training. Nothing is as blind to protected characteristics as computer code. With these safeguards only interviewed applicants can possible claim bias, not everyone who applies. 
  4. Case in pointy: Judy applied online for an HR generalist job at Dow Chemical but never made it to the interview. she sued, claiming she was rejected due to her age and race. But when the court looked at Dow's hiring process, it quickly dismissed the case. Reason: The application never asked about age or race. Nothing on her resume alluded to either chacteristic. 

Dow uses an HR person to review applications and make calls to confirm interview availability. That person then passes on the candidate list to a hiring manager for possible interview 

That process was successful because it was designed specifically so hiring managers would not know applicants' protected characteristics. and thus, cannot descriminate.


Voters in several states will get to weigh in on legal marijuana in 2016, California, Michigan, and Ohio will hold ballot initiatives next year on legalizing pot Ariz. Maine. Mass. Nev might also  Alaska, Colo, DC Oregon and Wasington now allow weed for recreational use and several states have moved to soften their laws against it. 

Ballot measures on pot could drive young people and Democrats to the polls during next year's presidential election, which could loom large in states such as Ohio.  Millennial voters support legalization at much higher levels than older groups do.  GOP voters are coming around on legal pot, especially for medicinal use.  Cannabis oil, which shows signs of mitigating several illnesses and cannot be smoked or other wise used to get high is already legal in 15 stated, most of them red states

State and local governments are scrambling to hire top technology talent.  Governments cannot pay private sector salaries and benefits, and trained IT personnel are in short supply. So public agencies are offering other perks, flexible scheduling, faster promotions, more paid training gigs ect. They are also recruiting more millennials to replace retiring baby boomers, pitching public IT jobs as a fulilling career path. State and local agencies will still have to lean on outsourcing and cloud services 

​The biggest concern: finding enough computer security experts. That skill is in very high demand as data thefts spread in both the public and private sectors. Sensitive government data is an increasingly attractive target of online espionage.  Other challenging recruitment areas include app development and big data analytics.


If you are not working alongside a robot yet you probably will be soon. A slew of new bots are lining up to help humans with many tasks in the workplace, at health facilities and in the home Sales of robots are going through the roof. All told, spending on military commercial and consumer robots by US firms and consumers will hit $16 billion in 2016,from $11 billion last year. Future sales will stay red hot as costs of robots fall. Among manufacturers that will benefit: Fancu, Denso Robotics of Switzerland Kuka of Germany Universal Robots of Denmark

AS the use of robots expands in the US firms, more bot makers will set up near customers to more quickly cater to their needs. ABB Robotics, for example will open a manufacturing pant in Michigan and Denso Robotics hass put a support center in Ohio Robots will make US firms more competitive with cheaper human labor abroad. They are expected to boost productivity by up to 30% and lower labor costs by 18% across a wide swath of industries over the next 10 years. Of course other nations are also adding bots. Along with the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Germany account for about 80% of all robot purchases.

Exciting advances include the debut of smarter bots with human traits. capable of tacking intricate and complex work such as assembling keyboards, mice, mobile phone and other small items. Some are gentle enough to box cookies. Some surprising new uses: Dairy farms, Robots equipped with cameras and lasers can locate and milk cosw. They are built by DeLaval of Sweden. Health services Innovations include robots from Norway based Laerdal that simulate human clinical symptoms  for study by medical students and hospitals. And robots that help construct dental crowns. from Universal Robots. Offices Telepresence robots equipped with a small flat screen for a head allow a manage a doctor or anyone else to interact with workers, patients and others in remote places. Fast food joints Calif based Momentum Machines is building bots that will flip hamburgers as well as make sandwiches faster than humans can. 

Though robots will displace human workers, the will also lead to new jobs. Expect high demand in coming years for programmers, engineers and technicians


Have ties to a small business owned by women? The feds have work for you as they try to reach goals of 23% contracts to smalls and 5% to firms owned by women. The best way to land potentially lucrative work: Pair up with a big firm that already has a foot in the federal door by becoming a subcontractor. A small business owned by women will improve the overall bid's appeal, and the work with a know player will boost a subcontractor's chances of winning more jobs later.

note though, that subcontracting has its drawbacks. Subs have little recourse if the relationship with the prime contractor goes sour. They have no direct ties to the goverment agencies looking to hire outside help. To identify potential jobs, go to the General Services Admin's subcontracting directory, contact agencies directly via their small business specialists, or check  the Federal Procurement Data System. Meanwhile contracts for women owned firms will be fast tracked by the Small Business Administration




New federal reg may derail the prepaid money card industry. The rules, from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would require companies to offer error resolution and limit user losses when cards are lost of funds are stolen The bureau would also put strict controls on borrowing, including requiring issuers to consider a cardholder's ability to repay and placing caps on fees and interest. Unlike gift cards, which are issued for a set amount prepaid cards allow individuals  to reload cash value and threat them like regular debit cards. Users added $100 billion to prepaid cards in 2014. Use is high among millennials and folks with no credit cards The rules would also affect mobile wallets and other digital money accounts.

In the pipeline Tougher standards for products that can injure  youngsters. First up are requirements for brame backpacks used to carry children Starting in Sept 2016, frame carriers must  pass tests for flammability, strength, and stability  Makers must also prove small children can not slide out through leg holes Rules regarding cords for window shades and blinds will come much later The Consumer Product Sagety Comm says a new standards for cords will prevent children from strangling


Wal-Mart is cutting employee hours at some stores, in an effort to reduce costs as the world's largest retailer addresses declining profitability. In recent weeks, Wal-Mart executives have told store managers at some of its 4,600 US stores to more closely follow predetermined staffing plans that are base on a store's sale projections. That means reducing worker hours at stores that have been scheduling significantly above what has been allocated

The push to save on staffing comes as Wal-Mart is pouring money into making store more efficient, pleasant places to shop. Walmart increased the companywide minimum to $9.00 per hour in April and plans to boost pay to $10 an hour for many employees by February. The company has increased store staffing at peak hours so shoppers move quickly through checkout lines and see stocked shelves. Those efforts contributed to a 15% crop in second quarter income compared with a year earlier


Oil prices soared Monday marking there strongest three day rally since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, on doubts the global  glut of crude would be a long lasting as many investors and traders had earlier believed. Precipitating the rally, crude rose 27% in three sessions, were several factors, including a downward revision of US oil output and a report that sparked speculation the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries may be considering cutting production.

On monday the US Energy information Administration said US oil production this year was lower than previouly estimated.  The newly released federal data confirmed that US Oil output has taken a hit from falling oil prices, as new investments have proven unprofitable and some companies have struggled to stay afloat. ​The number of rigs drilling oil in the US has dropped by 58% since October, though companies added  back  a few rigs in recent weeks


Keep an eye out for better deals from cable companies on business internet. Cable's big networks allow for huge profits on even low cost service, so they will push Internet , phones, virtual private networks, cloud storage and the like. More partnerships among cable firms are likely, allowing regional companies to cover bigger areas and be more successful in convincing some major customers, hospitals, universities and such to switch from longtime providers. Small firms too stand to benefit from network upgrades. In addition, cable firms will boost wireless offerings.


Facebook is under fire from top Web-video creators who say if fails to prevent their videos from being posted with out permission, is trying to make it easier for hem to protect their content, particularly when videos go viral. The Social-networking giant, which is locked in a battle with Google Inc's YouTube unit for Web-video supremacy is introducing a video matching technology product designed to quickly identify videos that are duplicates of those already uploaded directly by their creators

This technology is tailored to our platform and will allow these creators to identify matches of their videos on Facebook across pages profiles group and geographies. Our matching tool will evaluate millions of videos uploads quickly and accurately, and when matches are surfaced, publishers will be able to report them to us for removal


IRS is getting ready to implement the excise tax for "Cadillac" health plans. The 40% tax kicks in staring in 2018 on the cost of health plans in excess of $10,200 for self only coverage and 27,500 for families . Earlier this year, IRS issued guidance addressing, among other topics, potential approaches fro defining the types of coverage subject to the tax and computing the cost of the coverage.  Now it has more guidance on a wide range of subjects, such as identifying who would be liable for the excise tax and the process and form to use for paying the tax. Notice 2015-52 has the details


As Apple Inc prepares to introduce its latest IPhones next week, the company's biggest challenge is one of its making, how to top its own success.  Apple's bigger screen IPhone 6 and IPhone 6 Plus, introduced a year ago, reignited sale growth for he smartphone, propelled the company to record profits and solidified Apple's standing in China.  Apple has  been gaining market share, despite more expensive offerings. IPhone unit sales grew more than 30% om each of the past three quarters from a year earlier. Now comes the hard part, maintaining that growth. Apple forecasts IPhone sales to grow 3% to 237.6 units in the physical year starting ion October.  One reason for the caution. The changed in the newest IPhones will not be as dramatic as last year, when Apple offered larger screen models for the first time. Apple is expected to unveal the new phones on Sept 9 in San Francisco.  The main improvements are under the hood changes such as a faster processor and a sharper camera. The phones will feature Apple' Force Touch  technology that can distinguish between a light tap and deep pree, allowing user to control the device by how hard they push on the screen

The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 has paved the way for same sex couples to tile their tax returns using the Married Filing Jointly or Separately status. This statute also allows these couples to file amended returns for up to three years prior, gong back to 2010. the tax rules for married same sex couples are largely identical to those for couples of opposite genders, but because the IRS looks to state laws to determine marital status, there are some additional stipulations for these couples that do not apply to traditional married couples.


For same sex couples to file a tax return using the Married Filing Jointly or Separately status, they must have been married in a state that legally permits same sex marriage. This requirement only pertains to the location where the actual marriage ceremony took place and not to where the couple currently lives. Same sex couples who live in jurisdictions that prohibit same sex marriage can still file jointly if the aforementioned condition is met.


The majority of the tax rules that apply to married couples of opposite gender who file either jointly or separately remain unchanged for same sex couples. The list of major provisions that fall in this castegory includes:

  • Retirement savings contribution - Married couples of he same sex have the same contribution limitations and income thresholds as opposite sex couples for traditional and Roth IRAs and qualified plans
  • Dependency exemptions - Same sex couples must obey the same set of rules pertaining to claiming personal and dependency exemptions.  Taxpayers are not allowed to claim spouses as dependents for either type of couple, regardless of the amount of support that was provided or length of residence Same sex couples with a qualify child who file separately must choose which spouse can claim the child
  • Property division - the laws for community versus common law property that vary by state apply in exactly the same way to same way to same sex couples who file either jointly or separately.
  • Head of Household status fro separated couples - Married same sex couples who are physically separated for the last six months of the year  can file using the Married Filing Separately or ahead of Household filing status.  Those who use the latter must support qualified child or other dependent.
  •  Adoption credit rules - When one spouse of a same sex marriage adopts one or more children of the other spouse, the adoption credit is disallowed just as it has been for couples of opposing gender.


Although the majority of tax provisions are identical for same and opposite sex couples, there are a few areas where same  may need to file amended separate returns. Employees who are in a same sex union are permitted to file an amended tax return that excludes the income that was previously recorded for providing health benefits to the employee's partner They can also recover taxes paid-including those for Social Security and Medicare for after tax premiums that they paid into  an employer - sponsored cafeteria plan on their partner' behalf

​How ever same sex couples who be be able to recover money in these areas need to carefully research the tax laws to be sure they will they will actually get a refund. Many same sex couples who are eligible to file amended returns will discover that they will owe additional taxes  once they run the numbers.  Their inability to claim the Adoption credit for expenses incurred to adopt their partners' children as well as the forfeiture of Head of Household status for one of them will usually more than offset any gains that they get from any reimbursements they would receive for taxes paid on health insurance expenses.The rules that prohibit same sex taxpayers from claiming these credits or filing individually as single or Head of Household after they were married will also apply to prior year returns. 

Married couples who work in one state and live in another need to be prepared for some additional bureaucratic hurdles in order to file their dual state returns. This can be very complicated process in some cases. Normally married filers who file in more than one state will prepare their home state return first and and then calculate the taxes owed for all other states and carry those amount back to the home state return. Since not all stated recognize same sex marriage, this cannot always be done using the normal method , it can be done but is very complicated.


When it is time to complete their tax returns, couples have one big question to answer, right off the top: married filing jointly or married filing separately? All but 4.3% of 56 million married couples filed their taxes jointly as of 2009. The IRS advises that you and your spouse will generally pay less in combined taxes if you file jointly, but it advises couples to figure their taxes both ways to make sure of that


  • If you have children. Some miscellaneous deductions and credits are not ordinarily allowed if you are married but filing separately. Notably, these include the child care credit, the deduction for student loan interest and the credit for adoption expenses.
  • If one of you earned most or all of the income. Joint filing allows for double the deductions for some expenses, notable for a contribution to a retirement savings account. As a couple, you can reduce your tax bill and boost your retirement income at the same time,


  • If one of you has unusually high deductible expenses. Some deductible costs notable the medical expenses deduction have a floor. Say one of you had a hugh medical bill that is not covered by your health insurance You are owed a deduction of costs that exceed 10% of adjusted gross income or 7.5% if you are 65 or older. Similarly, unreimbursed business expenses can be deducted only if they exceed 2% of adjusted gross income. If each of you files separately, the spouse with big expenses may qualify for a meaningful deduction, base on that smaler AGI
  • I each of you earns about the same amount. by filing separately you may avoid hitting the higher tax rate that might be levied on your doubled income


  • If you do not trust your spouse, by filing jointly you each accept responsibility, legally and financially. If you suspect your spouse is not reporting some income, or might be hit with a big tax bill for taxes. penalties, consider filing separately.
  • This goes double if you are separated or in the process of a divorce The IRS points out that even a court decree in a divorce case might not protect you from their powers to collect taxes and penalties from you in the event you ex does not pay.


The joint tax return continues to be the preferred choice for most American couples. It is designed to meet their needs.  If  you have a year with an extraordinary event. like a big medical expense or a sudden boost in one partner's income you might want to check its impact on your taxes if you file separately



The airline industry, once a basket case, is now a high flying profit machine. Stocks have soared as carriers have used their profits to upgrade fleets, reduce debt. repurchase shares and raise dividends.. Note these three winners:

  1. Southwest Airlines. It has one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry and holds down costs by flying only Boeing 737s simplifying  maintenance and staff training. The airline also stands out for it decade long profitability
  2. Alaska Air Group The Seattle based carrier also flies only Boeing 737s and the age of the planes is younger than most major airlines. In coming years, its earnings are projected to grow 16% faster than the overall airline industry. 
  3. Delta Airlines A mostly nonunion workforce gives Delta flexibility to adjust to changes in demand. Its earnings are seen soaring by about 40% this year. Delta has slashed debt since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2007, it began paying dividends in 2013, and last year it raised the payout by 50%

New regs will require investment advisers to write a business plan covering events, death, natural disasters, ect that could disrupt service to clients. The Securities and Exchange Comm plans to propose a rule this fall that will spell out specific steps an investment firm must take to ensure continuity.

Meanwhile a similar approach is under way by state securities regulators through the North American Securities Administrators Assn which offers guidance for state registered advisers to follow. NASAA's model rule requires a detailed outline of procedures to put in place for the protection, backup and recovery of advisers' books and records plus a succession plan if key advisers of a firm die or are disabled


Subway is about to get a big makeover. The sandwich chain which has recently been plagued by declining sales and a scandal involving its former spokesman Jared Fogle, will undergo its first brand overhaul in seven  years.  Subway's US sales last year fell by 3%, the most of any of the fop 25 fast food chains. Subway also fell twoo spots to become the third most popular fast food restaurant for the first time in seven years.  Here are the changes Subway is considering:

  1. Redesigning stores. Rather than opening new stores, Subway will redesign the ones it already has. This could include updates like new uniforms for workers and digital displays similar to the ones McDonald's has implemented. Subway has more than 42,000 locations worldwide, making ti bigger than McDonald's
  2. ​Overhauling the menu. With its vegetables and lower calorie counts, Subway arguably invented the idea of fresh fast food two decades ago. But while Subway stayed the same better competitors entered the space. Chipotle offers food that is raised without fillers or antibiotics and is prepared fresh in stores Firehouse Subs and Potbelly offer elevated ingredients and side dishes such as gourmet kettle chips and potato salad. Subway has already said it will start phasing out antibiotics in it meat. The menu changes could include taking fillers and additives out of its food

Closer ties between Russia and China spell new headaches for Washington. Perhaps more worrisome is an agreement just inked by Moscow and Bejing in which the two countries vow not to launch cyber attacks against each other. Since both Russia and China have long been blamed for hacking US computers, security specialists worry about the two teaming up to steal data from the US. The two nations are also getting together for join naval and other military exercises. 

President Obama is poised to name a US ambassador to Cuba, the first since 1961, when the two countries broke off diplomatic ties in the wake of Fidel Castro's takeover of the caribbean island nation.  The likeliest choice: Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who currently serves as chief of mission in the bare bones US policy office in Havana, which will regain embassy status. He would work to bolster US business activity in Cuba, though the embargo on exports to Cuba, except for food and medicine, will not be officially lifted for years.



A lawyer's fraudulent advice does not taint the client an appeals court says, affirming a lower court decision. A man who sold a family owned business relied on the ta advice of his attorney, who structured the deal as a tax shelter. The tax returns were prepared by accountants who did not participate in the fraud. Ten years later, the Service came after the seller, claiming the statute of limitations  remained open indefinitely because the fraud. The appeals c ourt rejecte IRS's position because fraud  was perpetuated only by the attorney and the Service conceded that the taxpayer himself lacked the intent to evade tax


Three states whose elections in 2015 have implications for the 2016 race. Kentucky where GOP presidential hopeful is rooting for a loss for Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. She has been strictly enforcing a law that prohibits Paul from defending his Senate seat while also running for president. Virginia where Democrats aim to win the state Senate from GOP control. A successful bid could bode well for Hillary Clinton's prospects of wining Virginia in 2016. Lousiana where Democrats hope to regain governorship amid squabbling among Republican gubernatorial hopefuls.  




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