President Bush’s promising agenda for small businesses
As part of his focus on improving the nation’s economy, President Bush has put a spotlight on small businesses. The president has unveiled an ambitious agenda to ensure businesses’ long-term growth and vitality. His plan is designed to free entrepreneurs to devote more time and resources to servicing their customers, developing their products and helping their employees.

The president’s agenda gives small business owners a jump-start to create new jobs, support their workers and improve the economy. His agenda will:

  • Provide new tax incentives to make it easier for small businesses to make important job-creating investments;
  • Give small business owners more power to provide health care for their uninsured employees, and improves the health care options for employees who already have insurance;
  • Reduce the regulatory barriers to job creation for small businesses and give small business owners a voice in confusing federal regulatory process;
  • Ensuring full and open competition to government contracts;
  • Eliminate the estate tax, allowing family-owned businesses to be passed down without having to sell assets; and
  • Provide small businesses with the information they need through business advocacy groups.

Simplification of the tax code and accounting procedures is another component of the president’s plan. Every business and employer must bear the cost of tax-code compliance — the paperwork, the accounting bills and lawyer’s fees. If costs can be reduced, Bush says, the products and services might be cheaper, better or more plentiful.

For more information on the new agenda, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration Web site.

EEOC can go to court for employees
A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) v. Waffle House Inc., will impact an employer’s ability to limit employment discrimination claims to arbital forums.

The court ruled that a private arbitration agreement between an employee and an employer does not prevent the EEOC from filing a court action and seeking monetary damages for the employee.

The Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision that had prevented the EEOC from recovering monetary damages on behalf of a worker who had previously agreed with his employer to arbitrate the worker’s private claim of discrimination.

The court ruled that EEOC is the “master of its own case” and can decide to bring a claim for monetary damages in court, even though the individual for whom the EEOC seeks relief would be required to pursue his or her own claim in arbitration.

New initiatives aim to protect Hispanic workers
Contractors who employ Hispanic workers should note that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced initiatives to ensure the safety and promote the prosperity of Hispanics in the workplace.

Hispanics have a 14 percent fatality rate in the workplace, yet they comprise 11 percent of the work force, according to the DOL.

Noting this troubling statistic, the U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to form a task force to educate Hispanic workers and their families about health and safety on the job. She has also called on other DOL agencies to make unprecedented efforts to increase workplace safety for Hispanics.

OSHA has made available a variety of tools, including publications, partnerships and training to Spanish-speaking employers and employees through its new Spanish language Web site. The site will not only serve workers, but also Hispanic employers, who represent America's largest group of minority business owners.

The Wage and Hour Administration is ensuring immigrant workers are informed of their rights through partnerships with community groups and the Mexican and Dominican Republic Consulates.

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has outreach programs for Hispanic workers. ETA is working with the National Council of La Raza and others to provide training for unemployed and unskilled workers.

There are more than 14.5 million Hispanic workers in the United States, according to the DOL.

This information is intended as a summary of legal information and should in no way be construed as legal advice. Contact your attorney before proceeding with any legal action.