The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 14, 2012

Evening News Brief | Student workers at Hershey facility win back wages


Associated Press

HERSHEY —

Three companies have agreed in a federal settlement to pay back wages to hundreds of foreign students for summer jobs they held at a Hershey candy company facility in Pennsylvania.

Lemoyne-based SHS Group, Ohio-based Exel Inc. and California-based Council for Educational Travel USA agreed to pay $213,000 in back wages to 1,000 students who held summer jobs repackaging candy. The Hershey Co. owns the facility but wasn't accused of wrongdoing because Exel operated it.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Wednesday the three companies overcharged the students for housing, reducing their wages below what they were supposed to be paid. It says the settlement provides fines for two of the companies.

Exel agreed to pay $143,000 in fines for excessive workplace noise. SHS was fined $5,000 for other violations.

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State court throws out 'wrongful birth' lawsuit ban

HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania appeals court says the Legislature violated the state constitution when it included a ban on lawsuits based on "wrongful birth" in a statute with other provisions.

A Superior Court panel issued a 3-to-0 ruling Wednesday in the case of an expectant couple. They sued doctors and medical facilities for allegedly not telling them the mother-to-be was a carrier of a genetic mutation that causes familial dysautonomia, a rare neurological condition.

The judges say the lawsuit ban wasn't sufficiently related to the rest of the bill when it passed in1988, so violated the constitution's "single-subject" provision.

The plaintiffs' lawyer, Richard Abraham, says the parents are suing to collect the millions of dollars for medical care their son will need. Sheila Ann Haren, a lawyer for the defendants, declined comment.

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Hospital fires tech after meds are switched

PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh hospital has fired a pharmacy employee after discovering that pain-killing medications were switched.

The Jefferson Regional Medical Center says Wednesday that the unmanned technician had been substituting a non-narcotic medication for Oxycodone.

The hospital says about 360 people who received medical care between June and October of this year may have received the substitute, but they are not aware of any adverse reactions.

The hospital is notifying all patients who might have been affected, and has also alerted state and federal authorities to the problem.

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Carnegie Museums receive $1 M grant

PITTSBURGH — The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh have received a $1 million grant to upgrade technology and improve multi-media presentations in galleries.

The museums say in a release Wednesday that the grant came from the Carnegie Corp. of New York.

The one-year initiative will expand networks at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Andy Warhol Museum.

A total of 1.3 million people viewed exhibitions and special events through the museums in 2011.

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Advocates say spending cuts would hurt Great Lakes

TRAVERSE CITY — Environmental activists say federal programs designed to protect and clean up the Great Lakes will take a big hit if Congress and President Barack Obama don't reach a budget deal soon.

Without a deficit reduction agreement, across-the-board spending cuts will kick in Jan. 1. Leaders of advocacy groups said Wednesday that would mean an 8.2 percent reduction in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-year program dealing with some of the region's top ecological threats such as invasive species and toxic pollution.

The program received $300 million this year. The cut presumably would reduce it to $275 million in 2013.

Joel Brammeier of the Alliance for the Great Lakes said slashing the restoration program would damage the environment and the regional economy, including the fishing and tourism industries.