Employment & Aviation Consulting

London | New York | Miami

  

Employment Aviation News

Articles & News

GMR consultants are experts in their fields, providing consulting and
expert witness testimony to leading companies worldwide.

The Ninth Circuit has upheld a district court’s denial of Glassdoor, Inc.’s motion to quash a grand jury subpoena requiring it to disclose identifying information about eight anonymous reviewers.  Rejecting Glassdoor’s First Amendment challenge, the appeals court found that the company failed to allege - or to provide evidence - that the government’s investigation of the employer for fraud was conducted in bad faith.

Glassdoor operates a website where employers promote their companies to potential employees.   Employees post reviews of what it is like to work at their companies and in these reviews - which are anonymous - employees rate employers in a variety of categories.  These categories include interviewing practices, salaries and workplace environment.  

An employment attorney - Jadzia Butler of Covington and Burling in Washington D.C. - has stated that a recent court order requiring Glassdoor to reveal the identities of eight users of the website, may have an effect on internet free speech.  She says that it is “particularly concerning” if a subpoena can compromise the anonymity of the internet users and added, “Some employees use the platform to report managers' or co-workers' problematic behavior. Without their identities being kept confidential, they may be less likely to do so. That's bad for the employer, who could have been made aware of things it did not know were happening.”

Although the reviews are anonymous, users have to provide their email addresses to Glassdoor in order to post on the website and they are warned that such information may have to be disclosed if required to do so by law.  Glassdoor warns that they “will disclose data if we believe in good faith that such disclosure is necessary . . . to comply with relevant laws or to respond to subpoenas or warrants or legal process served on us.” 

Their Terms of Use state that Glassdoor reserve the right “….to take appropriate action to protect the anonymity of users against the enforcement of subpoenas or other information requests”. 

Glassdoor was attempting to do that, despite an on-going federal criminal investigation where anonymous reviews were posted about an unspecified federal contractor.  These reviews criticized the company's management and business practices – with one anonymous review stating that the company "manipulates the system to make money unethically off of veterans/VA.”

Glassdoor raised First Amendment concerns and the government agreed to limit its request for reviewer details to just eight example reviews, in order to “contact those reviewers as third party witnesses to certain business practices relevant to the investigation.” 

However, the court stated that, "The speakers whose identities the government seeks may well be witnesses to this criminal activity, perhaps even participants in it.”

Jadzia Butler said that the employees are not implicated in a crime and are mere witnesses. She stated, "They did not ask to be dragged into this legal process. Now they and those who hear about their story will think twice about expressing themselves in this way."

Mark Kluger, an attorney with Kluger Healey in Florham Park, N.J. said, "Since most employees who post on Glassdoor probably don't work for criminal enterprises or those that are targets of FBI investigations, the average contributor likely has nothing to worry about."

An attorney with Foley & Lardner in Miami - Mark Neuberger - agreed, "This subpoena is not and should not be the end of sites like Glassdoor or other ones where people can comment about their doctors, restaurants or anything else."

However, Charles Krugel - an attorney in Chicago - stated that, "This decision should make employees think twice about using Glassdoor when employees accuse their employer of serious criminal misconduct."

In a statement Glassdoor said, "We are disappointed in the 9th Circuit's decision to deny our appeal to protect the identities of eight Glassdoor users whose contact information was being sought in connection to a federal criminal investigation linked to alleged fraud, waste and abuse of federal funds."

It added, "Glassdoor vigorously fights our users' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, including sharing opinions online about their workplaces anonymously."

President Donald Trump recently directed Elaine L. Chao (U.S. Secretary of Transportation) to launch The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.

The UAS Integration Pilot Program will be used to integrate and accelerate the safe use of UAS into the national airspace. The program will allow Lead Applicants (state, local, and tribal governments, who will serve as the primary point of contact with the FAA), to partner with Interested Parties (public and private sector applicants such as UAS operators or manufacturers).

The program will gather operational and other data, which will help tackle the most significant challenges in integrating drones into the national airspace while reducing risks to public safety and security. Additionally, according to the FAA it is “expected to provide immediate opportunities for new and expanded commercial UAS operations, foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the Department of Transportation (DOT) on expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).”

Elaine L. Chao stated:

“This program supports the President’s commitment to foster technological innovation that will be a catalyst for ideas that have the potential to change our day-to-day lives”. 

On November 1st, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to overhaul the regulations related to the certifying of helicopters.

The proposal would revise regulations in title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 27 (Airworthiness Standards: Normal Category Rotorcraft) and part 29 (Airworthiness Standards: Transport Category Rotorcraft).

In its proposal, the FAA stated “The proposed changes are necessary to address modern designs currently used in the rotorcraft industry and would reduce the burden on applicants for certification of new rotorcraft designs”.

The existing regulations, which were brought into force in 1964 “.. do not address increasing design complexity” and “have not kept pace with advances in technology for rotorcraft.” Currently, to accommodate changes the FAA either issue:

  • Reoccurring Special Conditions – (when the FAA finds the applicable Airworthiness Standards do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards because of a novel or unusual design feature)
  • Equivalent Level Of Safety findings (ELOS) – (where a design does not literally comply with the Airworthiness Standards but compensating factors exist that provide an equivalent level of safety)
  • Or Means Of Compliance (MOC) issue papers – (document compliance methodologies that fall outside existing guidance and policies)

The changes would “incorporate the requirements of equivalent level of safety findings that the FAA has imposed as conditions for approving certain design features”. The same testing, analysis and inspections as currently would need to be complied with but it is thought unnecessary burdens on both the FAA and the helicopter industry would be reduced with these changes.

The FAA is inviting comments up until January 30th, 2018 and the NPRM can be found here

Generation Z - those born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s - are now entering the workforce and according to a new poll, they will be difficult to manage, hard to communicate with and will not have a particularly strong work ethic. 

APPrise Mobile, a mobile employee communications and engagement solution,  has released a national survey of workplace managers (which relied on a Google Consumer Survey) showing that more than a third believe that managing employees from Generation Z will prove more difficult than the management of previous generations. So far, Generation Z has not impressed their more experienced co-workers according to APPrise Mobile.

More than a quarter of workplace managers anticipate having major communications and training-related challenges.  Twenty six percent believe that it will be more difficult to communicate with employees from Generation Z; 29 percent expect it will be more difficult to train them compared to older generations and 1 in 10 managers (16 percent) also expect Generation Z to negatively impact their company culture. 

Two percent of respondents feel that phone calls will be an effective way to communicate with Generation Z - however, the authors of the report wrote that ‘connecting over the phone could become a thing of the past’.

Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile said, "To the extent Millennials are associated with 'entitlement,' there probably is a level of fear that Generation Z will turn out worse.  The farther away in age, the greater the likelihood that they (the managers) believe they won't be able to relate to Generation Z."   He went on to say that as most of Generation Z grew up with a mobile device in their hands, "there is a tendency and expectation of instantaneous gratification. They want the answers now. They are all about tweets and short responses. As a result, many Generation Zers are going to be too quick to respond rather than deliberate and thoughtful……the concept of professionalism, formality and quality in communications may be a foreign one to many in Generation Z, which could be problematic to older generations."

Bruce Tulgan, founder of New Haven, Connecticut based consultancy Rainmaker Thinking, agreed that fears about Generation Z may not be unfounded.  He said that his own research shows that managers’ biggest worry is that Generation Z will view jobs as short-term transactional relationships and that they will demand a great deal of flexibility and responsibility early in their working lives. 

He stated, "It may be attributable to being raised by helicopter parents who have provided more guidance, direction, support and coaching to young people than any generation in history. Thus, these young people often have unrealistic expectations about where they stand in relation to others and what they can hope to achieve and receive in the first years of employment. They aren't going to want to take it slowly, get a feel for the place, learn who's who and what's what before starting to add value.  They want to be set up for success, and they want to start proving themselves on day one."

The poll found that 44 percent of managers believe that the reliance that Generation Z have on technology will be an advantage – but then not all companies will have the technological tools expected by Generation Z.

Jeff Corbin stated, "Companies aren't necessarily on board with mobile as a business strategy. Yes, they recognize that it's important - but what about the ways they are doing business that hasn’t changed - even though the people they are dealing with and their ways of living have changed considerably?"

He cited that many companies still spend considerable resources creating lengthy newsletters which are distributed as print, intranet and email.

Generation Z has always lived in world of internet connection, smartphones and tablets.  Managers responding to the survey saw this as a positive and 42 percent said that they plan on introducing more technology tools. 

“Most Millennials remember a time when fax machines and landline phones were commonly used and AOL dial-up was the only way to access the internet, but their incoming Generation Z colleagues only know of these things from history books and movies. Bottom line – this new generation of workers expects technology to touch every facet of their life and companies should embrace this sooner than later,” said Jeff Corbin, CEO of APPrise Mobile.

The National Labor Relations Board originally heard a complaint from an employee, Mr Navarro, against Banner Health System – an organization that had adopted a confidentiality agreement covering the sharing between employees of private employee information concerning pay rates and disciplinary actions. Banner was told by the court that policies cannot stop workers from talking about pay.

Banner Health is a large healthcare system in Phoenix, AZ. James Navarro worked at Banner, sterilizing surgical equipment. On February 19th 2011 Navarro could not use the autoclave which is a large, pressurized steam sterilizer normally used for sterilizing reusable medical instruments.  This was because the hospital's steam pipe was broken.

He was instructed to use hot water from the coffee machine for the first step in the cleaning process and then to use a low-temperature sterilizer with hydrogen peroxide.

Mr Navarro was concerned that those procedures violated the established protocol, which caused him to raise questions with various supervisors and do some quick research – none of which allayed his concerns.

After confirming there were adequate clean instruments available for the day's scheduled surgeries and deliveries, Mr Navarro did not sterilize any additional instruments.  He spoke to several other workers at the facility about the problems, and was disciplined for it.

A couple of days later, Mr Navarro visited Banner's human resources consultant, reported his discomfort with the prescribed procedures and expressed concern for his job. That same afternoon, Mr Navarro's supervisor gave him a “non-disciplinary coaching” and - a few days later - a negative yearly evaluation.

The main evidence supporting the claim was the confidentiality agreement and an interview of complainant form – referred to by the human resources consultant – which was the primary evidence in support of the charge that Banner maintained an over-broad investigative non-disclosure policy.  The introduction included the wording, “I ask you not to discuss this with your co-workers while this investigation is going on, for this reason - when people are talking it is difficult to do a fair investigation and separate facts from rumors.”  However, the HR consultant stated that she did not request non-disclosure from Mr Navarro and he did not testify that he was asked to keep the matter confidential – nor his interview with HR.

It was held that Banner's confidentiality agreement violated the National Labor Relations Act but that its investigative non-disclosure policy and treatment of Mr Navarro did not.

On later appeal by Banner, it was found that Banner’s policies could discourage discussions about working conditions - a right guaranteed under labor law, the court said.

This ruling impacts on all employers and shows that even non-union businesses must watch speech restrictions.

An Air Force investigation released last Thursday has revealed that an improperly-assembled engine was the cause of an F-16C crash on April 5, 2017.

The Air National Guard F-16C Fighting Falcon crashed at around 9:17 a.m. - shortly after departing from Joint Base Andrews - about six miles southwest of Andrews and 12 miles south of Washington. The pilot was a member of the 121st Fighter Squadron and was flying with three other F-16s as part of a routine training operation when the plane “experienced an uncommanded engine acceleration, followed by a loss of thrust.”

It was the first flight for the single-engine fighter, following installation of an overhauled main engine control (MEC) unit. The Air Force Accident Investigation Board looked into the crash and forensic specialists found that the MEC unit had been incorrectly reassembled, with the absence of the 600-degree training ring and associated anti-rotation pin leading to the malfunction of a pilot valve. This caused a huge excess of fuel to be delivered to the engine which manifested as uncommanded acceleration, progressing to engine overspeed and a massive engine fire.

The pilot was able to put out the fire but the engine was unusable. He therefore aimed the aircraft towards a nearby wooded area and ejected. Although he was medically evacuated and treated at Malcolm Grow Medical Clinic at Andrews, the pilot was not injured in the incident and subsequently released on the same day.

The President of the Accident Investigation Board, Air Force Col. David Cochran, stated:

“It is critically important to ensure that all small washers, shims, pins, clips, and retaining rings are accounted for during the MEC overhaul process, in accordance with the applicable technical order guidance. Omitting or improperly installing any of these items, as stated in the technical order, did result in failure of the MEC and aircraft loss.”

According to the Air Force, the plane cost $22 million and the environmental clean-up cost more than $856,000.

British Airways (BA) recently announced that a consultation exercise would shortly commence regarding the proposals to close its New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS). A significant and growing funding deficit was cited as the reason for the closure. 

Because of this, thousands of British Airways employees’ retirements have been plunged into uncertainty. 

British Airways stated that the NAPS scheme’s deficit reached £3.7bn in March of this year, making it the largest of all UK company pension black holes relative to the firm’s overall value. The airline said it had paid £3.5bn into the scheme since 2003.  They also stated that in 2015 they had committed to pay between £300m-£450m a year into the NAPS scheme until 2027 and this was regardless of whether new contributions from employees are stopped.

If NAPS remained open to accrual, the cost of providing future benefits could rise to 45% of individuals’ pensionable pay in 2018 – more than four times the typical employer contribution for UK airlines.

The trade unions Unite and GMB slated the move and conveyed their dismay and disappointment at proposals from the airline to shut NAPS to future contributions from its existing 17,000 members. 

It is understood that discussions between the airline and the unions had focused on ways to make the scheme sustainable and the possibility of it closing had not been brought up, until the statement by British Airways.  

In a joint statement, the two unions said, “Our team of financial analysts has worked tirelessly with the airline over the last few months to explore ways to keep the pension scheme open and secure it for the future.”  They added, “This announcement sadly confirms that our advice has gone unheeded and that we have been unable to convince British Airways that keeping the scheme open is the right thing to do, for both the company and its employees.”

British Airways have stated that members would still receive what they were due in their retirement – meaning payments from the Scheme would likely continue for decades. NAPS was created in 1984 and offered members lower benefits in return for a lower contribution rate than its predecessor, The Airways Pension Scheme (APS).

British Airways lost a High Court battle against the Trustees of APS in May after they pushed through a £12m discretionary payment in 2011 to make up for a change in the inflation link.

A challenging period lies ahead for BA, with the company likely to face strong opposition from members, unions and the Trustee Board. However, having regard to the level of NAPS’ deficit and the trend for final scheme closures generally, it should perhaps come as no surprise that BA wishes to close to accrual.

Many defined benefit pension schemes are under pressure due to increased life expectancy of the members and record low interest rates. Pension schemes invest greatly in Government bonds – whose yields have fallen to historic lows in recent years – meaning that the money earned from these investments fails to cover the liabilities that the schemes face.

At the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) annual conference on October 16, Robert Nichols, (FAA Surveillance Services Group Manager) informed the delegates that the FAA is already reflecting on which radars to retire and which to keep as back up to the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast  (ADS–B) – even though progress in equipping aircraft has so far been slow.

ADS–B is an element of the US Next Generation Air Transportation System  (NextGen), the national airspace strategy for upgrading and enhancing aviation infrastructure and operations.

It is an environmentally friendly technology whereby an aircraft transmits its position via satellite signal, which it broadcasts, enabling it to be tracked – with no interrogation signal needed from the ground. This GPS location information is much more accurate than current radar equipment and the FAA believes it will “transform all segments of aviation”, improving safety and efficiency both in the air and on the ground.

With ADS-B, pilots will be able to see traffic, weather and flight information services (such as temporary flight restrictions) on their cockpit displays. This should enhance safety by improving situational awareness, allowing for self separation and reducing the risk of runway incursions.

However, although the FAA require ADS-B transmitters to be fitted by January 1, 2020 (ADS-B Out), there is as yet no mandate for ADS-B In, which receives data and provides it to in-cockpit displays.

Considering there is only just over two years before the mandate comes into force, progress has been slow in equipping aircraft, as currently just 27% of all U.S. aircraft (including military, commercial and general aviation) have been fitted with the necessary avionics. When questioned by an FAA representative though, airline executives stated they were on track to make the deadline.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products and services. Practical strategies for employing artificial intelligence are available to data and analytics leaders now.

This is according to a report by Gartner Inc. - based in Stamford, Connecticut - which has predicted that within the next four years jobs will be eliminated by artificial intelligence.  However, that will only be in the initial stages, as more jobs will then be created.

According to the Gartner’s ‘Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond....’ employees will turn to chatbots to replace apps to complete their work – forcing HR to adapt how it manages the way its employees’ interact with the new technologies.

The report states that "….today, chatbots are the face of AI and will impact all areas where there is communication between humans. Bots will take over some of the functions of apps and change the way users interact with technology. Bots will also increase employee engagement and automate tasks faster."

Daryl Plummer, vice president and Gartner Fellow, Distinguished Companies, states,

 "Technology-based innovation is arriving faster than most organizations can keep up with. Before one innovation is implemented, two others arrive. Companies will be required to develop a discipline around how pace can be achieved..….Speed of change will require variability of skills and capabilities to address rising challenges."

Gartner report forecasts that by 2020, artificial intelligence will have eliminated 1.8 million - but created 2.3 million jobs.  The report states that in 2019 more jobs will be eliminated than created, but it is believed that the number of jobs created by artificial intelligence in 2020 will overcome the shortfall.  The report carries on to say that the elimination of jobs will vary considerably industry by industry, with some - such as healthcare and education - not being affected.  Of the organizations with artificial intelligence already in operation, 77 percent have reported that they have more job gains than losses.

Gartner forecasts that by 2021, 40 percent of IT staff will hold "multiple roles, most of which will be business, rather than technology-related." They predict that by 2019, IT technical specialist jobs will fall by more than 5 percent as digital business initiatives require increasing numbers of IT employees to be more versatile (in 2017, IT specialists represent about 42 percent of the entire IT workforce).

In future, employees will constantly need to keep their skills upgraded and permanent learning will be vital to keep pace with all the technological changes in the workplace. Regulations will need to change to ensure that companies are keeping data safe and as more devices connect to the Internet, HR professionals will need to make certain that all devices connecting their organizations to the web are safe.

For the second time in only 6 months, an Air Canada flight is being investigated by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding an event at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – this one on Sunday October 22nd.

Flight AC781, an Airbus 320 was arriving at SFO after a six hour flight from Montreal, Canada. According to the FAA, ATC had cleared the flight to land on runway 28R and the crew had acknowledged the instructions whilst some miles away from the airport.

However, during its final approach, a controller in the tower ordered the flight to make a go-around, as they were concerned that the preceding arriving jet might still be on the runway.

When the crew of Flight 781 failed to respond to six calls from the tower, ATC used a flashing red light gun - which is standard protocol when an aircrew is not responding to radio instructions - but the flight did not respond to this either.

Fortunately, the runway was clear of aircraft when the jet touched down safely at 9:26 p.m.

Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for Air Canada said: “Upon landing, the crew was informed the tower had attempted unsuccessfully to contact the aircraft, however the message was not received by the crew.”

In light of the first incident, Federal regulators had implemented new policies concerning landing procedures and control tower staffing levels at SFO, however when the crew eventually responded, they apparently told the tower that their radio had malfunctioned. Air Canada is also investigating the circumstances.

During a recent webcast, speakers from Mercer Sirota (a global consultancy focusing on talent, health, retirement and investments) stated that women - more than men - feel that they can't speak with candor in the workplace.

The speakers cited the fact that women feel they cannot be up front about ethical concerns and are not treated considerately by managers.  They based this on the results of a recent 80 question survey of 3,010 U.S. workers - and on findings from five years of surveys given to about 1.3 million employees. The study related to what drives engagement and satisfaction in the workplace for men and women.

The survey found that 68% of women who responded agreed that they are satisfied with their jobs compared to 73% of men - and although both men and women reported that the type of work they do is the key factor that engages them, they were found to differ on the other factors that motivated them. 

The question of whether pay in the workplace is fair and transparent was put to the respondents of the survey and 41% of women said they believed it was compared to 51% of men.  According to a Mercer webcast speaker, complementing pay to performance keeps men and women satisfied at work - but the absence of fair earnings is especially discouraging to women.  

However, women are more concerned than men about the consequences of being candid at work.  A third of women stated that the do not feel able to express their views or ideas without fear of repercussions.  This compared with 29% of men.  When interviewed, Megan Connolly - a senior consultant at Mercer Sirota - stated that since the results were based in part on Mercer Sirota's ongoing survey of about 1.3 million employees worldwide, even a 4-percentage-point difference is something to pay attention to.      

The webcast speakers pointed out that if employees cannot be candid about new ideas or concerns in the workplace, they are less likely to feel positive about their career advancement and development opportunities.

Sixty-six percent of women believe that employees can get a fair hearing for their complaints, compared with 70% of men and women are also less comfortable than men speaking out about ethical concerns. More than 1 in 4 female employees, 26%, said they do not believe they can report an ethical concern without retaliation, compared with 21% of men.

Fifty-one percent of female employees said they believe that managers consider the impact of their actions on staff before making decisions and 56% of male employees believe the same.

Megan Connolly said, "A common theme in each of these differences is perceived fairness. We know that fairness is a crucial factor when it comes to building engagement."

Mercer Sirota principal, Pete Foley stated, "This research clearly suggests that companies that measure these gaps and focus efforts on closing them can not only improve engagement but help women thrive in the workplace."