Prevention of Bribery and Corruption Critical in the Global Economy

Bribery and corruption are serious issues facing businesses competing in an increasingly global economy. For years, businesses have been concerned with domestic prosecution for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) abroad. However, as times have changed and the economy has become more global, new laws and statutes are impacting the way U.S. businesses must conduct themselves at home and abroad.

It’s Not Just the FCPA Anymore

Anyone engaging in business dealings with foreign officials or international entities must abide by global anti-corruption laws such as the FCPA, the U.K. Bribery Act, legislation arising from the International Organization for Economic Co-Operation & Development (“OECD”) and emerging legislation in Brazil, Russia, India and China (the “BRIC” nations). Failing to understand and observe these laws can result in illegal business practices and expose individuals and their organizations to civil or criminal penalties.

It is Impossible to Understand the Details of New Legislation Just by Reading the News

If you are authorized to negotiate contracts with or make payments to foreign officials and other global entities, it is essential that you understand the key provisions of global anti-corruption laws and ensure you make informed decisions and maintain compliance in all business dealings. Simply reading news articles covering enormous penalties does not provide the basis for why the violations leading to those penalties, and therefore does not provide the foundation for determining how best to prevent running afoul of international and domestic laws. This is where training comes in.

Prevention of Bribery and Corruption Courses Have an Impact

Rather than just provide a synopsis of the law, Syntrio’s bribery and corruption courses take the user through real-world scenarios designed to teach the finer points of anti-bribery and corruption laws that trip up even the most savvy of managers and executives. Indeed, there are limited situations where payments to government officials and other private parties are perfectly acceptable (even when it seems they would not be). By walking the user through scenarios detailing the laws themselves and the exceptions thereto, your managers are better equipped to understand what is and is not acceptable conduct when dealing in the global marketplace.

There is More to Worry About than Just Huge Fines

Global anti-corruption laws of course contain stiff monetary penalties for making bribes and corrupt payments. However, many of these laws include criminal penalties calling for those who are directly involved to serve jail time. For this reason alone, it is extremely important that you prepare your managers and executives with the knowledge necessary to maintain the ethical line and avoid corrupt payments. Failing to do so could result in the entity later being sued by the individual who claims he or she was just acting on the guidance of the company.

Contact Syntrio to Learn More About Courses Covering the Prevention of Bribery and Corruption

Syntrio’s representatives are ready to show you more about our new prevention of bribery and corruption course. If you feel you need would like a program tailored to your specific industry and specific issues therein we can also create a custom course just for your business.

Contact for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!


Brewing Problem for Ford Motor Company Highlights a Need for Harassment Training for Managers



In November 2014 a group of four female employees filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company in Chicago, alleging that they were harassed and retaliated against as a matter of company policy throughout their time at the auto manufacturing giant. Ford denied responsibility and dismissed the allegations as inconsistent with its way of handling such complaints over the course of the past two decades (following a similar scandal in the mid-1990’s).

The problem for Ford just became much worse, as dozens of female employees have joined the pending class action lawsuit, according to a recent report. An amended complaint filed in federal court claims the harassment the women allegedly suffered was not limited to the south-side plant where the first four women worked, but also was prevalent at the Chicago Heights institution. If successful, the class action lawsuit could cost Ford millions of dollars in damages and attorneys fees.

The amended complaint filed by the now dozens-large group of women claims they were routinely groped, faced sexual assault, and regularly were asked by managers for sexual favors. Further, women who complained were written up, given less-desirable jobs and didn't get overtime, according to the lawsuit.

Harassment Within the Company Allegedly “Widespread” and “Ongoing”

In 2015 there is simply no excuse for a pattern of sexual harassment to pervade an entire facility at a large company, much less spread across several facilities. Simply stated, harassment training for managers is designed to prevent this very behavior from ever occurring, and is further designed to allow managers to detect the flash points for the behavior and stop it before it is allowed to spread.

There is no doubt that isolated incidents of misconduct by rogue managers will continue to occur. However, according to the Ford lawsuit the company culture has maintained “an ongoing and continuous environment [of harassment] in these plants that has never really been effectively remediated.”

Women Allege Retaliation for Complaining of Harassing Behavior

Making matters worse for Ford, following the last round of widespread harassment allegations against the company nearly twenty years ago, Ford allegedly implemented a “harassment hotline” whereby victims of harassment could call in and complain about workplace misconduct. However, according to the current lawsuit, the company was able to gain information as to who was calling in to complain, and the company went so far as to interrogate and discipline its employees for exercising their right to complain.

Allowing sexual harassment to persist within a company culture is bad enough, but retaliating against employees for making complaints (if the allegations prove true) evidences a lack of training and institutional control with respect to policies and practices. All of this adds up to a costly situation for Ford that could have easily been avoided with cost effective and time sensitive harassment training for managers and employees.

Assuming your company wants to avoid the possibility of a situation similar to Ford’s we highly recommend contacting Syntrio to schedule harassment training. Indeed, Syntrio’s representatives are ready to discuss our industry-leading harassment training courses. 

Contact for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!


Healthy Workplace Laws: Get Ahead of the Curve

State legislatures around the country are contemplating (or have already enacted) legislation to curb the alarming amount of workplace bullying taking place in both public and private sector places of employment. While your state may not yet have taken steps to eliminate this harmful activity, you can be assured that the time is coming, and your business needs to do something about it. With that in mind, below is some background and statistics on workplace bullying, and how it can be avoided.

What is Workplace Bullying, and how is it Defined?

California recently answered this question for employers when it enacted Assembly Bill 2053, which amended the California law requiring bi-annual sexual harassment training to include a requirement that employers provide training on “abusive conduct.” The California law defines “abusive conduct” as follows:

[A]busive conduct means conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.

The California law sets out several examples of abusive conduct including:

• Repeated infliction of verbal abuse
• The use of insults and epithets
• Threats
• Verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening
• Gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance

In summary, in California (and soon across the country) it will likely be illegal to fail to treat co-workers or subordinates with the respect they deserve. While this may sound simple, the statistics are alarming.

Recent Survey Shows Majority of Employees Concerned with Workplace Bullying

According to a 2014 National Survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 27 percent of U.S. employees reported that they had experienced abusive conduct at work and 21% of U.S. employees claim they have witnessed abusive conduct of others at work. These numbers are simply too high, and evidence the legislative trend toward outlawing abusive conduct in the workplace across the country.

The 2014 survey also revealed most employees do not think that their employers do enough to address workplace bullying. Indeed, 25% of employees’ surveyed responded that employers deny bullying and harassing conduct takes place and fail to investigate complaints. Further, 16% responded employers discount bullying or describe it as non-serious, and another 15% responded that employers rationalize it by describing the bullying as innocent.

Perhaps most glaring, only 12% of employees’ surveyed found their employers took steps to eliminate bullying by creating policies and procedures and training employees on how to identify and prevent abusive conduct. Given the legislative trend toward requiring training to combat abusive conduct in the workplace it makes sense to get a jump on things by training managers and employees to treat each other with dignity and respect.

Syntrio’s Online Courses on the Prevention of Abusive Conduct are a Simple Solution for Businesses of all Sizes

Syntrio understands that managers and employees are busy. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to conduct online training to prevent workplace bullying not only to comply with the law, but also to protect your company reputation. More and more employees are claiming different types of harassment when they depart a company, and now with new “Healthy Workplace” anti-bullying legislation going into effect they have a new weapon in the fight against employer misconduct.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses prevent bullying from occurring within their offices, yet also with assisting businesses in complying with their legal obligation to train employees on the prevention of abusive conduct.  Contact for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!


Yes Means Yes: California Gets Tough on Consent in Effort to Combat Campus Crimes

With a rash of recent stories of college campus sexual assaults has come a controversial California law requiring affirmative consent prior to a sexual encounter between students. Although this seems somewhat intuitive, think about situations from your college days filled with hazy nights and experimental encounters with a variety of partners. Upon giving it more thought, was “affirmative consent” always given? The answer is likely no, as physical contact between partners often takes the course laid out by nature.

Old Dangers Lead to New Legislation

With the dangers lurking on college campuses in the 21st Century, this new law has been enacted to protect students from each other, and shows the need for institutions to train members of their communities on the prevention of sexual violence. Although California has taken the legislative step to require affirmative consent, the federal Campus SaVE Act requires colleges and universities to provide training and education on the prevention of violent crimes by all institutions that receive federal funding. As such, now is as good a time as any to instruct students and faculty on the importance of consent prior to engaging in sexual conduct.

Students Confused by, yet in Support of New Law

In a recent story by Cosmopolitan magazine, the author traveled to the capital of college partying, the University of California at Santa Barbara, to learn more about students thoughts on the controversial new California law. While in the college community of Isla Vista, the author found students both in support of and against the new law. Those who were critical of the law cited the difficulty in understanding exactly what unambiguous consent is, and how this will impact men’s ability to defend themselves from a false allegation of rape.

The takeaway from the confusion expressed by the UCSB students is that more training and education is needed to help them understand when they have received unambiguous consent, and how to go about asking in a non-threatening and non-embarrassing manner. While the majority of organized groups of students like fraternities and sororities provide detailed sexual violence prevention education (and ironically wind up the target of media scrutiny) it is the students attending house parties taking shots of flavored vodka with students they just met (like those visited by the Cosmopolitan author on Del Playa drive) that need the opportunity for greater understanding of exactly when “yes means yes” and “anything else means no” since they are not required by an organization to attend mandatory training.

With Education Comes Prevention

California’s new informed consent law is a complicated statute that will take years to build a body of case law around fleshing out the definition of “unambiguous consent.” Until then campuses and members of their community have a duty to educate students by providing scenarios and food for thought so that they can make informed decisions about whether it is safe to proceed with their behavior.  Contact for more information about our prevention of campus violence courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!


Are Smartwatches a Ticking Time Bomb for Cyber Security?

April 24, 2015 brought a revolution in wearable technology. Yes, there have been smartwatches in the past that have failed to gain traction, yet when Apple entered the market it felt like a seismic shift (to the tune of approximately 2.7 million preorders) in the marketplace. Suddenly there will be millions of people wearing the Internet on their wrist. With this new power comes the new risk of data breaches in the workplace. This article will briefly examine the basics of managing the risk that smartwatches bring to the office.

With Novelty Comes Vulnerability

Just as was the case with smartphones and tablet computers, as more people adopt wearable technology the risk for breach increases. It is well known that smartwatches are extremely vulnerable to hackers and malicious intrusion, and offices need to be prepared with policies for data protection (as well as server strength) that prepare for the waves of initial hacks and data breaches that are nearly certain to occur.

Smartwatches Carry a Treasure Chest of Personal Information

Before connecting to the Internet the software powering smartwatches and other wearable technology collect a wealth of personal data. When that personal data includes work-related email and text messages there is clearly a risk of intrusion. For this reason it may be wise to train your managers and employees on these risks, or create a policy about the usage of smartwatches for business purposes. With the proper training the risks can be minimized, if not eliminated.

Offices Have a Wealth of Vulnerable Access Points for Intrusion

Tech-savvy offices now not only have a variety of Wi-Fi access points, but also Bluetooth connections, and other areas where data can be breached. Of course it is important to encrypt all data with a new type of technology flooding the marketplace, but it is also important to train employees on the proper means of safely using their devices within a risky environment like the office.

Proper Training Alleviates Many of the Issues

At a minimum, employees need to be encouraged to turn off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi settings when their devices are not in use. The problem with a request like this is that it is impractical, especially with respect to a device like the Apple Watch, which pairs with the users’ smartphone. Therefore, it is far more important to introduce training on the enemies and types of hackers that may be trying to intrude upon the office’s networks than engage in training on technical jargon that may confuse your staff. After all, the key to training is to make your employees know you are doing the best you can to keep the office safe for both their benefit and the benefit of the company.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses prevent data intrusions from occurring within their offices, yet also with assisting business in complying with their ethical obligations to train employees on cyber-security and the protection of employee, business, and customer data. Contact for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!