Privacy & sexting – Do your employees have a right to privacy when sending explicit text messages on company-owned devices? Employee Benefit News reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of City of Ontario v. Ouon in the spring. The case involves a police chief who read several SWAT team members’ text messages without their consent because he wanted to see if what he deemed as excessive use of their pagers resulted from personal or work-related activities. In June 2008, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the police chief’s actions represented a violation of the SWAT team members’ Fourth Amendment rights. Get your popcorn ready – this will be a case to watch.
Dueling pollsters – A recent poll commissioned by the Conference Board reported that American job satisfaction hit an all-time low. Given the economic climate and the overall tenor of the times, that’s not too hard to believe. Unless, as Carol Morello of the Washington Post notes, you read competing surveys by Gallup and the University of Chicago, which show that job satisfaction has been remarkably stable over several decades. So your workforce is either very content – or it’s not.
Obesity – In the L.A. Times blog Booster Shots, Shari Roan asks whether obesity is inevitable. A recent book on the topic answers affirmatively, saying that without major societal changes, it will be nearly impossible to reverse obesity trends. According to Martijn B. Katan, one of the book’s authors, “Studies show that even the most motivated, thoughtful, strong-willed people have a hard time losing weight when huge portions of cheap, tasty, convenient food are available at every turn of the road, and when walking and other forms of exercise are superfluous or impossible.” One of the major societal changes needed might be a serious shift in the way we spend our leisure time. A recent study by Australian researchers showed that each hour a day spent in front of television is linked with an 18% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and an 11% greater risk of all causes of death, and a 9% increased risk of death from cancer. The culprit here is long periods of inactivity and sitting – true also of extended periods of computer use.
Green disputes – Leslie Kaufman of The New York Times reports on a new type of lifestyle issue that is surfacing in marriage counseling offices: an increase in green disputes. Couples are arguing about conflicting values related to recycling, exercise, diet, and overall commitment to the environment:

“While no study has documented how frequent these clashes have become, therapists agree that the green issue can quickly become poisonous because it is so morally charged. Friends or family members who are not devoted to the environmental cause can become irritated by life choices they view as ostentatiously self-denying or politically correct.
Those with a heightened focus on environmental issues, on the other hand, can find it hard to refrain from commenting on things that they view as harmful to Earth — driving an oversize S.U.V., for example.”

Workplace bias – While workplace discrimination charges dropped by 2.2% in 2009, the EEOC reports that 2009 was the second highest year for workplace bias claims. The most frequently filed discrimination allegations in 2009 were based on race (36%), retaliation (36%), and gender (30%), which the EEOC said followed recent trends. Stephanie Thomas presents a pictorial analysis of EEOC charge statistics from 1997 to 2009 on her blog The 80% Rule and Other Fallacies.
Violence & the economy – the Christian Science Monitor raises the question of whether the economy plays a role in workplace violence in its coverage of the shooting rampage by a disgruntled worker of manufacturer ABB Group in St. Louis. The shooting left three dead and several wounded. There have been some studies that point to a link between financial stress and domestic violence as discussed in a recent article about domestic violence in Connecticut. While most experts agree that the economy isn’t what creates a batterer, economic stress can often be an ignition point or a catlyst for domestic abuse.
The benefit of placebos – The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports on a recent JAMA study showing that some popular antidepressants are no more effective than placebos:

“It suggests that both placebos and drugs help alleviate depression, and that the benefits of both placebos and drugs increase as the severity of the depression increases. As you move along the spectrum from mild to severe disease, the benefits of the active drug increase more than the benefits of the placebo. So for patients with severe depression, the active drug works significantly better than the placebo.”

Pop quiz – How well versed are you in health care terminology? Test your savvy in this quick quiz on health care phrases.


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