From Gawker: Many restaurants in the DC area are offering "shutdown specials" to furloughed employees so long as government remains closed, but members of Congress looking to take advantage of the budget deals will find that their business is often less than welcome.
At least four eateries have announced that lawmakers are either ineligible for shutdown prices, or, in some cases, are required to pay more than the everyday prices for their food.
Top Chef star Bryan Voltaggio who owns Range on Wisconsin Ave is giving away free "Government Cheese" pizza pies to government employees with a valid ID, but members of Congress are "not eligible until you get your shit together."
At Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe on Connecticut Ave it's Happy Hour all day for everyone but Congressmen and women who will need to pay double for their drinks.
Same goes for The Daily Dish in nearby Silver Spring, where Congress pays double for coffee until the shutdown expires. (photo above)
At Pork Barrel BBQ in Alexandria, a free pulled pork sandwich for every furloughed employee. Not so fast, politicos.
As Eater DC notes, these policies would be tricky to legally enforce, "but they're still funny."
This is really disgusting, but I can totally see it happening with her, turning interns into free slaves and having them clean and fetch coffee. Come on Donna, you needto step up and fork out a few dollars. Does she not understand what the term "intern" means? Perhaps this will change the way interns are used. She can't be the only one pulling Miranda Priestlys!
Huff Po: A former intern is seeking a class-action lawsuit against Donna Karan International over his unpaid internship in 2009, the New York Daily News reports.
Vallentino Smith, a 25 year-old man from Queens in New York City, claims that he clocked in 16 hours a week without pay when he was an undergraduate student working for Donna Karan at its Manhattan headquarters. Smith alleges that he was told the internship would be a great learning experience, but instead all he did was get coffee and organize fashion closets.
"They took advantage of him. You don't see this in waste management or funeral homes," Smith's lawyer, Lloyd Ambinder, told the Daily News.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, an internship must meet certain criteria to go unpaid without violating the law. For example, the internship must be "for the benefit of the intern" and be "similar to training which would be given in an educational environment."
Donna Karen's New York headquarters did not respond immediately to a request for comment by The Huffington Post.
Smith is seeking retroactive pay for the hours he worked and would like his case to be classified as class-action so he can represent at least 100 other unpaid Donna Karan interns, according to the New York Post.
Smith's accusations are the latest in a group of lawsuits questioning companies that take on unpaid interns. In June, a former unpaid intern filed a class-action lawsuit against Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records. The intern claims that his work experience included no academic or vocational training and that the company would have had to hire another employee to do his work.
Similarly, former unpaid interns sued Gawker Media that month, claiming the company was in violation of federal law when classifying them as interns to avoid paying wages.
Legal experts have predicted that the unpaid internship lawsuit "trend" is likely to spread even further and that employers across industries should "take note." More than a million U.S. students take internships every year and roughly 20 percent of those internships are unpaid and do not include course credit, Robert Shindell, vice president at consulting firm Intern Bridge, told Forbes.
Huff Po: BUFFALO, N.Y. -- From the moment parking meter mechanic James Bagarozzo began his scheme to steal from the machines, his life became overrun with quarters. He stashed them in his pockets, in a sack in his truck, in closets at his house.
Over more than eight years, he brought home $210,000 worth of quarters – 10,500 pounds of them – which he dutifully rolled and packed in $500 boxes to be exchanged for cash at banks on his lunch hour.
On Friday, a judge imposed a 2 1/2-year sentence on Bagarozzo, who blamed a gambling addiction and an illness he believed would kill him before he built a nest egg for his family.
"With all its problems, the last thing the city of Buffalo needs is employees who don't do what they're paid to do," U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara said as he rejected a defense plea for home confinement or community service.
From 2003 through 2011, the meter mechanic spent the first half of every workday stealing from 70 to 75 meters, prosecutors said. Rather than fix machines, he broke them so that quarters would collect on top where he could grab them with his hands instead of dropping into the collection canister.
Bagarozzo, speaking purposely but with little emotion, apologized during a brief statement to the court and said he accepted responsibility.
"I have hit rock bottom and I have had to come up with my family and friends," the 58-year-old said.
A former co-worker, Lawrence Charles, followed Bagarozzo's lead, stealing $15,000 in quarters over about five years, prosecutors said. He was expected to get 6 months to a year in prison. His sentencing also was supposed to be Friday, but it was postponed until Aug. 29.
The employees came under scrutiny in 2011 after Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer noticed the city's new computerized pay stations were bringing in far more money than the old quarter-fed parking meters.
"What may have begun as a theft of nickels and dimes, in the end was the equivalent of a major bank heist," U.S. Attorney William Hochul said.
Since the arrests, the city's annual parking meter revenue has increased by more than $500,000, Helfer said.
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said the investigation is not over.
"We are looking at other people," he said.
At the time of his arrest, investigators found $40,000 in cash in the ceiling of Bagarozzo's bedroom, $4,100 in a dresser and $3,000 worth of quarters in closets in bags and boxes around the house.
Prosecutors said the money allowed Bagarozzo to send his daughters to college and pay off his mortgage, but defense attorney James Harrington said virtually everything was lost at casinos.
"It was rooted really in this spiraling addiction that he had," said Harrington, who gave Arcara 138 letters of support from Bagarozzo's friends and family.
In court papers, Harrington wrote that Bagarozzo's stealing began in 2003 following a serious episode of Crohn's disease that left him believing he did not have long to live.
"He said he was worried about his wife and two teenage daughters and that they would have little if he died," the lawyer wrote.
Bagarozzo, who will be allowed to surrender voluntarily, declined to speak with reporters as he left the court surrounded by family.
Yahoo:The 20,000 part-time workers at Sports Direct, the retailer controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, are employed on zero-hours contracts.
Zero-hours contracts mean that part-time staff at Sports Direct have no holiday or sick pay, and cannot be sure of how many hours they will work each week.
The part-time workforce at Sports Direct accounts for 90pc of its 23,000 employees.
The zero-hours contracts are in use despite the fact the company posted pre-tax profits of more than £200m in the last year and has introduced a generous bonus scheme for full-time staff.
Full-time workers at Sports Direct are set to collect a bonus worth more than £70,000 in company shares next month after the retailer hit profit targets.
The company has credited this bonus scheme, introduced in 2009, with revitalising the business and improving staff retention rates in the business.
However, most of Britain's other major retailers - including Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDF - news) , Asda, Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY.L - news) 's, Morrisons, and Marks & Spencer (Other OTC: MAKSF - news) - do not use zero-hours contracts.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the number of workers in jobs without any guarantee of regular hours or pay nearly doubled during last year to reach 200,000.
The contracts now used by almost a quarter of Britain's major employers - legally allow firms to employ staff, often in low paid jobs, without any guarantee of actual work, or income.
Andy Sawford, the Labour MP for Corby, who is trying to ban the use of zero-hour contracts, told The Guardian : "It would be much better for Sports Direct to instead of offering bonus gimmicks, they should offer their staff the security of proper contracts.
"The zero-hours contracts are highly exploitative and suit the company because it keeps people in a fragile state where they are at the beck and call of their employers."
From WSJ via Yahoo: Dr. Roger Herrin, a retired surgeon from Illinois who lost his son in a car accident, smoldered with rage. An appellate court had ruled that his family had over-collected insurance benefits. He was left with no choice but to pay back $500,000 to other passengers who survived the accident.
So the doctor exacted his revenge — in quarters.
On Wednesday, he delivered the money to the other parties, complying with a court-ordered settlement. But to their astonishment, he paid $150,000 of it in quarters.
An armored Brink’s truck drove 150 bags of loose quarters from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to a Marion, Ill., bank. The bags were then piled on flatbed trucks that the doctor had borrowed from a friend.
The trucks then rumbled through a busy downtown square, parked outside of two law firms, where the bags were dumped in the lobbies.
The 76-year-old doctor told Law Blog that his coin trick — reported by the Southern Illinoisan newspaper — was a “protest against the ruling.”
The coins weighed close to four tons or about as much as 70 regular-sized couches. If you lined up the quarters, they’d stretch across more than 11 football fields, or more than a kilometer.
“They were not happy. They didn’t know what they were going to do with it. And I wasn’t real congenial,” Dr. Herrin told Law Blog. “We have cash and checks. Which part don’t you want?” his attorney told the nonplussed lawyers and receptionists who gathered around the bags, according to Dr. Herrin.
“They decided they wanted it all,” said the doctor.
“If he wants to pay in quarters, that’s his business,” said Mark Prince, a lawyer representing two of the other passengers.
In 2001, Dr. Herrin’s son, Michael, and two teenage friends were riding in a Jeep Cherokee driven by one of the boys’ mothers when a farm truck failed to stop at an intersection and rammed the vehicle. Michael was killed and the other passengers suffered injuries. One of the kids, the worst of the injured, had to undergo several knee surgeries.
Dr. Herrin, who had purchased his own family insurance policies through nursing homes he owns, settled a wrongful-death claim with two insurance companies, which paid his family $1.65 million, according to court documents. The other passengers had no claim on that money.
There was also a pool of $800,000 in aggregated under-insured-motorist coverage from the crash vehicle for claims by all the passengers, but a trial court came up with a formula that gave the son’s estate most of that money.
Many years and lawsuits later, an appellate court ruled that the lion’s share of the common pool should go to the other passengers. “Frankly, I don’t need the money,” said the doctor. Most of it, he said, had gone to his ex-wife. He said he just didn’t think it was fair to have to return the cash when the only life lost was that of his son.
The doctor, who lives on a 20-acre estate in Harrisburg, had one of his grounds workers help with the hauling Wednesday. “He said he’s very sore from lifting the bags,” said the doctor.
Will virtual stores take off in the US?
From Tech&Facts: A major South Korean retailer owned by British giant Tesco has opened a virtual store in a busy Seoul subway station, for increasingly sophisticated smartphone users to order groceries and more.
Homeplus, which bills the shopping experiment as a world first, offers 500 items including food, electronics, office supplies and toiletries at its “store” at Seolleung station in the south of the city of 10 million.
Seven pillars and six platform screen doors have been plastered with images of life-size store shelves filled with goods — such as milk, apples, a bag of rice or school backpacks — which each carry a small barcode.
Shoppers download a related application on their smartphone and make purchases by taking photos of the barcodes.
“You place an order when you go to work in the morning and can see the items delivered at home when you come home at night,” said a spokeswoman for Homeplus, the country’s second-largest discount chain.
Homeplus was established in 1999 in a joint venture between British-based giant Tesco and South Korea’s Samsung but is now 100 percent owned by Tesco.
“This will help increase our sales via smartphones, which will be the next big sales generator,” the spokeswoman told AFP.
Homeplus already operates an online store for smartphone users which garners modest sales of 30 million won ($28,000) a week, but hopes it can get a big boost from some 200,000 people who pass through the station daily.
The company says sales at Seolleung, which opened on August 25, are small at present — declining to reveal the actual figure — but that the experiment is part of a long-term investment in a sector that will only keep growing.
Online sales of all types last year were worth 160 billion won out of Homeplus’s total revenue of 11 trillion won.
South Korea has 15.4 million smartphone users, more than 30 percent of the population. A state telecommunication official has estimated this will rise to 70 to 80 percent within three to four years.
Orders placed by smartphone at Seolleung are sent to the Homeplus store neares to the delivery address and anything ordered before 1pm will be delivered the same day, retailer says.
“This new store, which integrates current online and offline shopping space, has vast potential,” said the spokeswoman.
The virtual store lured few shoppers during a visit this week, with a handful of young people taking photos of the unusual display but not making any purchases.
Hwang Won-Il, a 40-year-old manager at a mobile payment sustem developer, said he had his doubts about the new retail experience.
People may have to spend “a good five to 10 minutes just to complete an order to buy five items”, he told AFP.
“This is a novel experiment… but I wonder if people are willing to spend that much time in the middle of a busy subway station,” he said while trying out a purchase.
Hwang, a regular Homeplus customer, was out of luck when he attempted to use his iPhone. The app won’t be available on Apple’s store until mid-September although other smartphone operators already offer it.