The Talk of Connecticut
 
Show Rundown for Monday, October 26, 2015
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DAREN MARTIN (Workplace culture expert) HALLOWEEN COSTUMES IN THE WORKPLACE MAY PRESENT A SCARY PITFALL Now that autumn is finally here, the smell of football tailgates, crisp leaves and pumpkin spice lattes fill the air. One cannot enter a corner store without encountering pumpkins, bags of candy corn and black cat and witch trinkets - Halloween is just days away. Employers hosting Halloween parties or even permitting employees to wear costumes should implement policies that minimize potential problems arising from claims of racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination and/or sexual harassment. HRLegalist urges readers to consult legal counsel if you have any questions about Halloween and other holiday party policies for the workplace, and, of course, have a Happy Halloween! Sexual Harassment: Prior to hosting a Halloween party, employers would be remiss if they didn't remind their employees of the company's sexual harassment and dress code policies, so as to reiterate that the party is still a work-related function and that employees should act accordingly. Employers should also remind their employees that while a particular costume might be completely appropriate for a "night on the town," that same outfit might be entirely inappropriate and borderline offensive for the workplace. In sum, employers must make clear that being allowed to wear a silly costume one day a year is not a "get-out-of-jail-free" card for unprofessional behavior in the workplace (i.e., wearing provocative costumes or making unwanted comments, gestures or advancements towards co-workers). Racial Discrimination: Halloween has become a hotbed for racial insensitivity over the past several years - accordingly, employers should prohibit these types of costumes from the workplace. There have been any number of cases that have been litigated throughout the United States where employees have performed skits at holiday parties in costumes that purport to portray members of another race. No employee should ever be made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome at their place of work, and workplace party policies, especially at Halloween. Employers must be mindful of this and the litigation that may ensue for failing to observe this policy. So, how can you be sure to find that safe costume and stay out of trouble?

DAVID LIGHTMAN (National Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers) Democrats are breathing a big sigh of relief after Hillary Clinton's performance in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. However, did she do herself any favors for a general election scenario? On the GOP side, is appears that Donald Trump's poll numbers might be sliding just a tad? So, have we seen "Peak Trump" yet? Also, what will Paul Ryan's elevation to House Speaker mean for the GOP?

Dr. FARZAM KAMALABADI (Senior a adviser to the People’s Republic of China’s various governmental organizations at the highest levels to the premier and president of China. Dr. Kamalabadi comes to America for a series of national tours to communicate with the U.S. investor and business community to share in-depth, inside knowledge and shed light on the current real conditions and future directions of China, the world’s second largest economy.) Dr. Kamalabadi has been holding private, invitation-only meetings for senior-level U.S. executives and investors looking for first-tier business opportunities in China. What is China's economy really like? What are the future indicators for China? He's meeting later today with VP JOE BIDEN!

JEFF BIRNBAUM (Fox News political analyst, Washington Times columnist and president of BGR Public Relations) HOUSE PASSES PARTIAL OBAMACARE REPEAL The House voted along party lines on Friday to approve a budget reconciliation bill that would repeal parts of ObamaCare and halt federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Only seven House Republicans voted against the partial ObamaCare repeal bill, though it has become a target of opposition from 2016 presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as powerful groups such as Heritage Action for America. The final total was 240-189. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), a vocal opponent of abortion, was the only Democrat to break ranks. The seven Republican defectors were Reps. Ken Buck (Col.) Bob Dold (Ill.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Mark Meadows (N.C.) and Matt Salmon (Ariz.). Jones is facing a primary challenger, while Dold's seat is one of the top targets for House Democrats in the 2016 cycle. The bill would knock down key pillars of the president’s healthcare law, including the individual and employer mandates and the so-called Cadillac tax and the medical device tax. It would also halt funding to Planned Parenthood for one year. “We have a responsibility to use every tool we have to dismantle this flawed healthcare scheme, and the bill before us today will do just that,” Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), who leads one of the committees charged with drafting the bill, said. “This bill does not repeal all parts of ObamaCare but it certainly repeals egregious parts of it,” he added. Republicans have hailed the rarely used reconciliation process as a way to make President Obama answer for his healthcare law. Under the Senate’s rules of reconciliation, the bill can make it to the president’s desk without being subject to a Democratic filibuster, forcing a veto.

JOHN POLLOCK (Tax and IRS expert) WARNING: NEW IRS SCAM, WITH A TWIST Over the past two years, nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million to scammers posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials. Since October 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has received reports of roughly 736,000 contacts made to taxpayers demanding that they send them cash via prepaid debit cards. J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, assured taxpayers that his office was actively pursuing those involved in the fraud, reassuring taxpayers, "We have made progress in our investigation of this scam, resulting in the successful prosecution of some individuals associated with it over the past year. This summer, a ringleader was sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison. However, this is still a matter of high investigative priority, and we will not rest until all individuals associated with this fraud have been brought to justice." But even as TIGTA notes that it continues to receive reports of thousands those bogus calls every month, stories are circulating suggesting that the scam is widening. Scammers are changing tactics and making calls purporting to be directly from the U.S. Treasury. There are a few variations on this scam. In one version, scammers advise that an individual has been awarded a grant or a similar sum of money and in order to collect, the individual needs to provide personal information or a sum of money to "release" the funds. It sounds a little bit like those lottery scams making the rounds but the use of the name of the Office of the Treasury seems to make individuals believe that it's more legitimate. It is not. The Treasury advises that it does not have such a program. Further, the Treasury says: "Recently we've found a twist on these scams, where the email, letter or phone call actually claims to be from the Treasury Inspector General, Eric M. Thorson. Some have convincing details about his career, appear to be on Treasury letterhead, and have links to email addresses such as ericthorson.oig@usa.com. These are frauds. Do not believe them, and do not respond to them. Please send them to OIGCounsel@oig.treas.gov; we will work to shut them down." Another version of a Treasury scam involves a caller falsely representing that he is from Office of the Treasury and demanding payment or information (just like those bogus IRS calls). These callers have been described as threatening or abusive, and tell victims they need to make immediate payment to forestall arrest. Again, Treasury advises that these calls are frauds. The con-artists are dialing for dollars and they're spoofing the caller ID so the call appears to be coming from the sheriff's office, the state police, the IRS or another government entity, How can you be prepared if you become a target?

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