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Samsung launches cannister vacuums in the U.S.

BY CSA STAFF

RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — Samsung Electronics America has launched its cannister vacuums in the United States. The three new models feature reduced noise levels and innovative ergonomic design.

According to the company, the innovative airflow design reduces excessive noise, cutting down on the roaring vacuum sounds that can disturb everyone in the house. The units also feature unique design components with a carrying handle.

“The launch of Samsung’s new vacuum line is the latest example of how we use insights and our deep expertise in technology to develop products that benefit mom and make her life easier,” said Kevin Dexter, SVP home appliance sales and marketing for Samsung Electronics America. “From refrigerators to ovens to washing machines, Samsung has over the past few years completely transformed the home appliance industry with new technology and design, and we’re now doing the same thing with vacuums. With unique airflow for less noise to multi-chamber technology and HEPA filters for cleaner air, the vacuums incorporate a number of innovative and convenient features that were designed to make mom more efficient.”

Other features of the vacuums include:

  • The champagne model features an innovative multi-chamber vacuum system which delivers improved efficiency with longer lasting suction power than conventional vacuums and catches up to 99.7% of even the finest dirt, dust and particles.

  • The black and electric blue models feature a twin chamber vacuum system, which offer an efficient and powerful design that catches up to 95.2% of dust and fine particles.

The black (SC88BOH1K) is available for MSP $299, the electric blue (model SC88POH1B) is available for MSP $349 and the champagne (model SC96POH1G) is available for MSP $449.00. Each model is available at major retailers.

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Tabeo arrives at Toys’R’Us

BY CSA STAFF

WAYNE, N.J. — Toys"R"Us’ first owned tablet is now available in stores and online. The company first announced the Tabeo, the first-ever consumer electroncs device, a month ago.

The brand-new 7-inch, multi-touch tablet comes with 50 free, preinstalled apps sure to engage and entertain kids, plus safety features that parents are proving to appreciate. The nationwide rollout included the launch of a variety of Tabeo-branded accessories to complement the device – from noise-cancelling headphones and colorful earbuds, to stylish folio cases and supplementary AC adaptors for charging tabeo on-the-go. The company also developed Tabeo.com to serve as the ultimate online hub for consumers interested in learning more about tabeo’s features, browsing the full list of available apps, viewing details on the tablet’s specs and placing an online order. Additionally, to ensure that Tabeo owners receive dedicated customer service for any questions they might have, Toys"R"Us has established a variety of channels through which consumers can speak with Tabeo representatives either via Live Chat, email or phone, all accessible through Tabeo.com.

"Consumer demand for tabeo has been very strong since we announced its introduction last month, and we’re proud to roll out this exciting new kid-friendly tablet to consumers nationwide," said Troy Peterson, VP divisional merchandise manager for Toys"R"Us, U.S. "Eager shoppers and early gift-givers finally have the chance to check this item off their kids’ wish lists, and will be pleased to find that there is an entire ecosystem of accessories, such as earbuds, cases and more that come in fun colors, helping to build on kids’ Tabeo experience."

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Wage-hour issues to consider during the holidays

BY CSA STAFF

By Bruce M. Cross, [email protected]

In the holiday rush, it’s easy to overlook wage-hour issues. This article discusses common ones to which retailers should be alerted, including: temporary workers and independent contractors; unpaid interns and trainees; “off-the-clock” work, meal and rest breaks; seating requirements; cost of uniforms; workplace safety; and overtime exemptions.

Temporary workers
Many employers obtain temporary workers from staffing agencies. That’s perfectly okay, so long as the agency is properly compensating them, paying payroll taxes and withholding FICA and federal income taxes from their wages. If the agency does not do that, the receiving employer may be held responsible. The same is true for overtime compensation because the receiving employer is likely a "joint employer" with the staffing agency. Therefore retailers should review the agreements they have with staffing agencies and be sure that the agencies are handling payroll matters properly.

Employers using agency workers should also check the language of their benefit plans to be sure that agency workers are not covered. Even if the employer does not regard agency workers to be employees, if the eligibility language of the formal plan documents is not precise, the workers may legally be entitled to those benefits.

Independent contractors
Just calling a worker an "independent contractor" does not make it so. Many so-called independent contractors are really employees, entitled to protection under a variety of employment laws, such as minimum wage and overtime compensation laws, nondiscrimination laws and labor laws — not to mention payroll taxes and withholding.

Although the legal definitions for independent contractors vary from one law to another, the basic idea is that if an employer controls the manner and means by which the work is done, as opposed simply to the end result, the worker is likely an employee, no matter what characterization the parties use. Also, some workers who in fact meet the IRS test of independent contractors are still considered employees for state unemployment and worker compensation payroll taxes.

State and federal tax authorities routinely audit employers for compliance, assessing back taxes and penalties for noncompliance. In addition, if an independent contractor is injured on the premises, the employer may be liable for the injuries, whereas most employee injuries are covered by worker’s compensation. Therefore it pays to be sure that workers treated as independent contractors really are.

Unpaid interns and trainees
Well publicized lawsuits are being filed by unpaid interns claiming protection under the wage and hour laws as employees. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult for a private-sector employer to legally have unpaid workers, whether they are called interns or trainees, although many employers do not understand this. The U.S. Department of Labor has very stringent requirements for unpaid interns/trainees. The result is that if a person is doing work for a private employer, he or she is probably an employee who must be paid at least minimum wage and overtime pay and who may also be entitled to participate in the employer’s benefit plans.

Off-the-clock work
Employees must be paid for all time worked, even if it is before they clock in or after they clock out. Common types of off-the-clock work include:

  • Call center employees logging into their computers, getting ready to answer calls;
  • New hire orientation and training;
  • Changing into and out of work clothes or uniforms;
  • Standing by for work; and
  • Tidying up after closing.

Depending on the circumstances each of these activities may constitute work that must be paid for, perhaps at overtime rates.
Employees must be paid for overtime work even if they did not get permission to work it, so long as the employer knew of the work or was on "notice" of it. The fact that the employee violated instructions not to work overtime may not be a defense.

Finally, if employees are working off-the-clock, the employer has an additional problem: it’s not complying with its record keeping obligations. The absence of accurate records makes it much easier for employees to pursue wage claims.

Meal and rest breaks
Many states have stringent requirements for meal and rest breaks. Some have penalties for noncompliance; others simply require additional pay if the breaks are not taken. When employees are scheduled to work full time, the pay for missed breaks may be at overtime rates.

Seating requirements
Some states require employers to provide suitable seating for employees. In those states, additional seating may be required for the holidays due to increased staffing.

Costs of uniforms
If employees are required to wear special clothing, there are at least two potential ramifications. Under federal law, if employees are required to pay for and maintain special clothing, the cost may be considered a reduction of their wages — which may result in minimum wage violations. Some states make employers pay for and maintain special clothing at no cost to the employee.

Workplace safety
Workplace safety laws protect all employees. Some state laws require safety orientation and training before newly hired employees are assigned to work. Failing to do that exposes the employer to citations and penalties — especially if a new employee is injured due to lack of training. All employees are protected by safety and health laws dealing with exposure to hazardous chemicals, and these laws apply even to ordinary household chemicals if the employee has a greater exposure to them than he or she would have at home.

Overtime exemptions
Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime pay is a widespread problem due, in large part, to common misconceptions. For example, just because someone is paid a salary does not mean that he or she is exempt. Also, outside sales people may be exempt from overtime requirements, but merchandisers typically are not. Similarly, although some retail commissioned sales people may be exempt, most inside sales employees are not.

The wage-hour laws of some states are far more demanding than federal laws. For example, in California store managers and assistant store managers are not exempt if they spend more than 50% of their time on non-exempt work. During the holiday season, it’s pretty easy to exceed that threshold.

The bottom line
The wage-hour laws are not suspended during the holiday season. If an employer has any questions about them, it’s good to ask for advice — in advance.

Bruce M. Cross is a partner in the Labor & Employment practice of law firm Perkins Coie LLP, in the Seattle office. He has extensive experience representing companies throughout the country, including those in the retail sector, on a variety of labor and employment issues. Cross can be reached at [email protected].


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J.Zune says:
Feb-13-2013 08:13 pm

I get your way of writing and I really appreciate it as a visitor as I am here to give you some good suggestions all about fashion for men and their wears to make their selves nice as look however mens ORANGE Blazer the all used stuffs in it are unique and are also comfort as wear.Thanks and Regards

J.Zune says:
Feb-13-2013 08:13 pm

I get your way of writing and I really appreciate it as a visitor as I am here to give you some good suggestions all about fashion for men and their wears to make their selves nice as look however mens ORANGE Blazer the all used stuffs in it are unique and are also comfort as wear.Thanks and Regards

J.Smith says:
Dec-05-2012 08:59 am

There are a few wage and hour laws that need to be considered. First, regarding non-exempt employees, such employees do not have to be paid for hours they do not work. Thus, such employees need not be paid during the closure. If non-exempt employees have paid vacation time accrued but unused, they should be given the opportunity to use that paid vacation time during the closure, but they should not be forced to do so. Of course, if the employer has a policy offering paid holidays for Christmas and New Years Day, employees should be paid for those two days and should not have to use their vacation time. Jason from http://bit.ly/N1y0Iq

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