Daily Report

This Afternoon's Headlines / Thu, October 23, 2014

Harassment a common part of online life, survey says

A new study confirms what many Internet users know all too well: Harassment is a common part of online life. The first-of-its-kind report by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of American adults who use the Internet have witnessed online harassment and 40% have experienced it themselves.

The types of harassment Pew asked about range from name-calling to physical threats, sexual harassment and stalking. Half of those who were harassed said they didn't know the person who had most recently attacked them. Young adults—people 18 to 29—were the most likely age group to see and undergo online harassment. Women ages 18 to 24 were disproportionately the victims of stalking and sexual harassment, according to the survey. And people who have more information available about themselves online, work in the tech industry or promote themselves on the Internet, were also more likely to be harassed.

Among other key findings from Pew, roughly two-thirds of those who were harassed said the most recent incident took place on a social networking site or app, while 22% saw it happen in the comments section of a website. Sixteen percent, meanwhile, said it happened in online gaming. Also, men were more likely to be called offensive names than women. Of all Internet users (89% of the U.S. population), 32% of men and 22% of women were called names. Men were also more likely to be physically threatened. The Associated Press has the full story.

Jury rules in favor of Gerry Lane in discrimination suit

Gerry Lane Enterprises has won its defense in a two-and-a-half-year-old lawsuit filed by a former employee, who alleged he was a victim of harassment and discrimination at the car dealership because he is African-American and of Italian descent.

A three-day trial was held last week in U.S. Middle District Court in the case of Eric Angeletti vs. Gerald Lane, et al. Angeletti was a sales associate at Gerry Lane Chevrolet. Late Friday a 12-member jury ruled there was not enough evidence to support Angeletti's allegations that he was harassed because of his race or nationality. The jury also rejected his claim of battery against the late Gerry Lane, who died in May 2013, a year after the suit was filed.

The jury's verdict substantiates the 2011 findings of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigated allegations of harassment and discrimination at the dealership and decided against pursuing a lawsuit. The Lanes attorney, Tony Clayton, could not be reached for additional comment by this afternoon's deadline. —Stephanie Riegel

News roundup: BR mobile home park sells for $800K … CATS ditches limitations on Touchdown Express sales … Chevron, BP and Venari strike 'significant oil pay' off La. coast

It's a deal: Old Southern Residential Park, a mobile home park situated on 4.5 acres at 8261 Airline Highway, near the intersection of Florida Boulevard, sold to Baton Rouge-based SAMCO Properties LLC for $800,000, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. According to a third-party listing, the property includes 44 pad sites and three duplexes, as well as an undeveloped lot bordered by Harry Drive near the rear of the property. Adam Strittmatter with Beau Box Real Estate represented the sellers, Old Southern Land and Trust LLC, managed by Clyde and Vicki Harris of Denham Springs. SAMCO is managed by Samuel Richardson and Anthony Pacaccio.

Rolling along: The Capital Area Transit System announced today that it is now able to sell as many Touchdown Express tickets as demand calls for during the final two LSU home football games on Saturday and Nov. 8. Up until now, CATS has only been able to make one return trip from the stadium following games due to contraflow traffic. After coordinating with LSU and the Baton Rouge Police Department, CATS says it will now be able to make multiple trips from Tiger Stadium to designated drop-off spots following the games against Ole Miss on Saturday and Alabama early next month. CATS has complete details on the Touchdown Express.

Discovery: BP, Chevron and Venari Resources announced today a new oil discovery at the Guadalupe prospect in the Gulf of Mexico. As Exploration World reports, the discovery is situated about 180 miles off the Louisiana coast, at a depth of 30,173 feet. The partners say they "encountered significant oil pay" at the Keathley Canyon Block 10 Well No. 1. The deepwater find represents the culmination of ongoing exploration efforts by subsidiaries BP Exploration & Production, Chevron U.S.A. and Venari Resources, which hold 42.5%, 42.5% and 15% interests, respectively. Read the full story.

Southwest La. industrial boom rolls ahead with megaproject announcement, LNG groundbreaking

Roughly a year out from completing its $425 million chlor-alkali plant in Geismar, Westlake Chemical announced today plans to expand the ethylene capacity at its Sulphur plant and make other capital improvements totaling $330 million.

Louisiana Economic Development estimates the Sulphur expansion and upgrades will retain 480 existing jobs and create 25 new direct jobs, as well as 164 new indirect jobs. LED's Business Expansion and Retention Group began discussing the expansion project with Westlake Chemical in May.

To secure the project, the state is providing the company with an incentive package that includes a $2.5 million Modernization Tax Credit, to be claimed over five years. The company also is expected to utilize Louisiana's Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs. Westlake Chemical hopes to complete the ethylene expansion in late 2015 or early 2016, with hiring for the new direct jobs to begin late in the fourth quarter of this year.

"This investment will continue this region's economic growth and create great chemical industry careers for our people," says Gov. Bobby Jindal in a prepared statement.

The expansion will add 250 million pounds of production capacity annually, increasing the company's global ethylene capacity to 3.6 billion pounds annually. LED has more details on today's announcement.

Meanwhile, more than 300 community and business leaders joined state and local officials today for a groundbreaking on the first part of a $10 billion natural gas liquefaction facility in Hackberry. The Sempra Energy project is one of the linchpins of an anticipated $73 billion in construction projects in the pipeline for southwest Louisiana. LED also has more deatils on the groundbreaking and the Sempra project. —Steve Sanoski

'Business Report': When is it acceptable to monitor an employee's communications?

Say you own a business that has developed a new product you think will blow your competition out of the water, but you have begun to worry that your employees who know details of the product might share the information inappropriately, or even use it to "trade up" to a better job with a competitor. Would you look at the employees' emails?

If you did, you likely would be on the right side of the law, legal sources tell Business Report in a feature from the current issue.

Monitoring electronic communications that occur via employer-owned computers, computer networks and other systems is not only permissible but fairly common, according to experts in the field of workplace privacy.

"Employers are within their rights to monitor to make sure company systems are being used properly," says Erin Lutkewitte Kilgore, a partner in the labor and employment group at Kean Miller.

But she adds that business owners have a responsibility to educate their workers about a company's employment policies.

"Because many [workers] have an expectation of privacy, employers need to let them know that 'We own the systems ... and we can and will access the systems to monitor [you],'" she says.

Lawyers caution that workplace privacy situations are seldom clear-cut, from a legal standpoint, and both business owners and employees should think carefully about what differentiates acceptable from unacceptable behavior.

"The best practice would be to have a written policy in place and share it with employees, but not all employers do that," Kilgore says.

Read the full feature. Also, be sure to check out tips for employers and employees on privacy policies from Seattle-based human resources consultant Carol Olsby. Send your comments to [email protected].

'Business Report' publisher makes endorsements

Early voting for the Nov. 4 elections is now open, continuing through next Tuesday, and there is much on the ballot. Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister Jr. has already laid out how he'll vote on the 14 constitutional amendments. Now—after weeks of attending forums, collecting questionnaires, visiting web sites, reading articles and speaking with community leaders, attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and those in government and business—McCollister is weighing in on the candidates for Congress, judge, school board and justice of the peace.

In the U.S. Senate race pitting incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu against leading Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy, McCollister writes, "This campaign is not about the past, but the future of America and the direction we will go. And who best represents the leadership needed to take us in the right direction? I believe that is Bill Cassidy."

Among the many 6th Congressional district candidates, McCollister is making a rare co-endorsement.

"It came down to experience and who could be effective in Congress. I found that Dan Claitor and Garret Graves stood out," McCollister writes. "Each has a record of public service. Each has been independent. Each is intelligent. Each has family roots in this district and a love for Louisiana. Each has an understanding of how government works—or doesn't. Each has a reputation for good character and integrity."

Among the judicial endorsements, in a couple of the hotly contested races, McCollister is endorsing incumbent judges Mike Caldwell and Mike Erwin. For school board, he only endorses two incumbents: Evelyn Ware-Jackson and Barbara Freiberg.

See all of McCollister's candidate endorsements. Send your comments to [email protected].
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