Frigates and Finances

The Deadbeat Trail

Fee Shifting

Service on Line?

Checking the Tanks

">Staffing

Program Fodder

SCORE Books

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published

in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 10, 1998. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide II

Top Of Page
Frigates and Finances

In an essay for the summer issue of Men’s Journal,

Kurt

Vonnegut

described the mating ritual of frigate birds he encountered

on the Galapagos Islands.

During mating season, he wrote, male frigates perched on a volcano

ridge and identified themselves by inflating balloon-like bright red

protuberances from their throats. The females then would fly overhead

and select their mate. Vonnegut asked his tour guide if the female’s

selection was based on the size or the redness of the male’s bulging

throat. No, she snapped, the female frigates chose the males with

the most secure nests.

That seems to be the way women select stocks. While high-risk stocks

might still be the dominion of men, women are much more likely to

select safe stocks, says Kathleen Muldoon,

a senior vice president

of Summit Bank’s women’s financial future division

(http://www.summitbank.com).

As investors, "women are going to be very, very

conservative,"

she says. "Three-fourths of women agree that they always favor

safe investments even if it means a low return."

Muldoon is one of the panelists on marketing financial services to

women at this year’s Marketing to Women Congress held Thursday, June

11, at 8:30 a.m. at the Windows on the World in New York City’s World

Trade Center.

According to a report by A.G. Edwards & Sons, women comprise more

than 40 percent of wealthy Americans and 90 percent of women will

become wholly responsible for their finances. This bodes well for

people in Muldoon’s line of work. But it may not bode as well for

the traditional hard-sell stockbroker.

Women aren’t as likely to be swayed by the hard sell, Muldoon reports,

and will generally ask more questions than a man. "The woman

really,

really wants to understand it," says Muldoon. "She doesn’t

want to just take your word for it."

Muldoon, 44, who has presided over the division since its inception

18 months ago, explains that single women are now receiving more

attention

from the financial industry, which had initially focused on widowed

and married women. But much of this focus is being directed from

within.

"One of the reasons that I think makes this a priority for me

is that I am a single parent," she says. "I have a very vested

interest in making sure that women are able to take financial care

of themselves."

Top Of Page
The Deadbeat Trail

As part of the Federal Welfare Reform Act of 1996, a

new law went into effect January 1 that makes it easier to track

deadbeats

as they slink from job to job.

It is called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity

Reconciliation

Act of 1996, and it makes it mandatory for employers to report the

name, address, and Social Security number of every new employee within

20 days of being hired. New Jersey employers must forward the W-4

forms of all new hires to the Office of Child Support, Box 716,

Trenton

08625.

New hire entries — and the Office of Child Support now receives

up to 500 a day — are being compiled in a state directory and

forwarded to a federal one kept by the Department of Health and Human

Services. An employer is notified when a deadbeat is identified and

instructed to withhold from the employee’s income an amount equal

to his or her child support payments, including ones that are past

due. Businesses with employees in more than one state may designate

one of them to receive all new hire information, but they must notify

each state in writing with the name of their designated state.

There are penalties for non-compliance: $25 for each unintentional

violation, and up to $500 for a deliberate one. But according to

Grace

Emley,

child support specialist with the Office of Child Support,

no penalties have been assessed yet against New Jersey employers —

many of whom remain completely in the dark about the new regulation.

To fill that gap, says Emley, a mailer is now being prepared which

will be sent to all New Jersey employers by the end of June.

Top Of Page
Fee Shifting

Two New Jersey Supreme Court cases have made it more

attractive for private lawyers to represent workers on

"contingency"

by sweetening the potential pot. Under the traditional arrangement,

if the employee wins, the attorney gets paid, usually one-third of

the settlement or award. If the suit is lost, the attorney walks away

empty-handed.

But suppose a $20,000 a year janitor is suing for a year’s lost wages

and no punitive damages? The lawyer’s fee of 30 percent would not

amount to much and Perry Warren

says that would discourage lawyers

from taking the case. "If the corporation puts five lawyers on

the case and spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on defense,

hoping

never to pay a penny, the plaintiff’s lawyer would walk away, if the

best he would do is to get one-third of $20,000," says Warren,

an attorney with Maselli, Warren & Lanciano on Alexander Road.

In "Rendine vs Pantzer," two women went on maternity leaves,

had babies, and were terminated. They claimed discrimination on the

basis of sex and previous maternity leaves. In "Szczepanski vs.

Newcomb Medical Center," a nurse brought suit against a hospital,

alleging she had been sexually harassed by a doctor and had suffered

retaliation for not responding.

"In these two cases the court said that the state does not have

the resources or inclination to prosecute every incident of unlawful

discrimination, so the state wants to encourage private attorneys

to take the cases," says Warren.

Now the employee’s attorney may be awarded an additional or

"shifting"

fee. "With the fee-shifting provision, the plaintiff’s attorney

may be awarded by the court the full amount plus a bonus. Decisions

on the two cases meant that a particularly good job can be rewarded

by an award over and above the bill. That fee shifting provision is

what often forces companies to the settlement table," says Warren.

"A big corporation may think `We can crush this guy and his

$20,000

lawsuit,’ but if they realize they may be hit. . ."

Attorneys who represent employers predictably oppose these new

provisions.

"With these decisions," says Tom Lewis

of Stark & Stark

on Lenox Drive, (http://www.stark.com, "the court is

practically suggesting that the

more an attorney defends a client, the more money will be awarded

to the plaintiff’s attorney if the client loses." If the defense

attorney is aggressive about asking for depositions, the plaintiff’s

attorney piles up fees — which, if the defense loses, the

corporation

will have to pay. "You almost have your hands tied behind your

back when you are defending a corporation," says Lewis. "You

have to walk a fine line."

Lewis calls for a law that would limit punitive damages on

discrimination

lawsuits. "In New Jersey, there is a limitation on punitive

damages

for virtually everything except discrimination lawsuits." So in

a product liability suit, where someone loses an arm or leg though

someone knew the product was defective, the punitive damages are

capped.

"But when someone claims the boss asked her out on a date, there

is no limit to the potential punitive damage award for the sexual

harassment charge. "That has to be changed legislatively."

"We don’t need bonuses to get the attorneys to take cases. And

all the money in the world can’t change the facts of the case,"

says Lewis.

Top Of Page
Service on Line?

While the Web may be ideal for marketing products, it

is being used to sell services, as least for PSE&G. Three-fourths

of the people in New Jersey know the utility giant as their gas and

electricity supplier, but PSE&G has also spent this century servicing

appliances. As far back as the 1920s, the company was selling,

installing,

and testing appliances, promoting such newfangled gadgets as toasters,

vacuums cleaners, and electric fans. Now its WorryFree Appliance

Service

Contract is being featured on a new appliance — your computer.

Customers can learn about and sign up for the service contract online.

The contract covers repairs and most replacement parts for home

heaters,

water heaters (electric or gas), ranges, dryers, ovens, cooktops,

and electric central air conditioning units — of all ages. Visit

the website at http://www.pseg.com

or call 800-350-PSEG.

Top Of Page
Checking the Tanks

If you are concerned about whether your underground

storage tank meets regulations, call the PSE&G hotline at

800-664-4761.

By December 22 certain fuel oil underground storage tanks need to

be removed or upgraded. If your tank meets these criteria you need

to worry:

The fuel oil in the tank is used for a purpose other than

residential heating.

It holds more than 2,000 gallons.

It was installed before 1988.

If any of these apply to your tank, call now.

"As we approach the deadline, it may become almost impossible

to find a contractor to perform the services at any price," says

Tim Fagan

,a product manager with PSE&G.

Those who fail to comply with the mandate may be fined by the state

and could possibly have their insurance coverage reduced or

eliminated.

PSE&G is not a disinterested party in this transaction; it hopes that

those using fuel oil will switch to natural gas and in some cases

(if the client is large enough or the installation would be relatively

easy) would install a natural gas system without charge.

Top Of Page
Staffing

Independents

As some staffing firms merge and consolidate, others

band together for efficiency and strength in numbers. Julie

Prafke,

the president of TempNet, is based in Spokane, Washington, but the

network has members in more than 100 markets. They congregate in

"owners

only" meetings, submit to peer reviews, operate a nationwide

referral

system, offer three educational conferences per year, and participate

in extensive networking opportunities.

A quick look of Princeton’s personnel firms reveals that a surprising

one third of the agencies — or about 20 of them — are

independent.

Dues are $300 for a new member plus $750 a year and $150 additional

for each branch. Jennifer Szwalek

at Creative Marketing Alliance

is marketing TempNet (http://www.cmasolutions.com.

Top Of Page
Program Fodder

Program chairmen can tap into various speakers’ bureaus

to schedule meetings for next year.

"We’ll work together to make sure that our presentation fits your

group," says Sharon J.B. Copeland,

executive director of

Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey. Her organization can provide speakers

on "What to Do Instead of Spanking a Child," "Child Abuse

and Neglect and its Prevention," and "Creating Caring

Communities."

Call Abby Schwalb

at 973-643-4710.

The North Brunswick office of the Visiting Nurse Association offers

nurses and other educators who can speak on subjects ranging from

women’s health to Alzheimer’s Disease and arthritis. Other topics

are violence prevention and help for caregivers in the sandwich

generation.

Also offered are group health screenings for cholesterol, diabetes,

hypertension, and osteoporosis. Call 732-219-7444

(http://www.vnacj.org

.)

Top Of Page
SCORE Books

Free books on how to secure financing and how to choose

the best bank for your business are available to clients of SCORE

(Service Corps of Retired Executives). Paid for by Visa U.S.A. and

written and edited by Inc. Magazine, these useful book offer step

by step tips on determining your financial needs, assembling your

loan package, sizing up alternative lending sources, perfecting your

presentation, building your banking relationship, and working with

the SBA.

For instance, the workbook warns that getting a loan can take from

7 to 16 weeks or longer, allowing for three to six weeks to prepare

the package and one to three weeks for bank presentations. Then it

might take two to four weeks for bank processing (requests for

additional

information, and generating offers) and finally one to three weeks

for final paperwork and loan completion. "If your financial

situation

requires a fast turnaround time," the book advises, "consider

applying for a bridge loan or short-term line of credit."

More than 100,000 copies of each workbook have been distributed

nationally.

For an initial consultation with Princeton’s SCORE chapter call

609-520-1776 (http://www.score.org).


Previous Story


Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments