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VOL. 131 | NO. 38 | Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Daily Digest

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Memphis Cheddar’s Settles Sexual Harassment Claim

The owner of a Memphis Cheddar’s Casual Cafe restaurant has agreed to pay 15 workers at the restaurant at 7684 Winchester Road a total of $450,000 to resolve a sexual harassment complaint against the owner of the business.

The terms of the settlement are in a consent decree approved Friday, Feb. 19, by U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes. The consent decree resolves a lawsuit filed in September by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Mint Julep Restaurant Operations LLC.

The lawsuit claimed sexual harassment by managers of the restaurant that continued and persisted despite complaints by those being harassed to leaders of the company.

“Having and disseminating an anti-harassment policy does not satisfy federal prohibitions against sexual harassment,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Faye Williams in a written statement. “Employers must also enforce it. … An unenforced policy is tantamount to having no policy at all.”

The lawsuit alleged a hostile work environment by the general manager and a bar manager.

The consent decree includes sexual harassment training, installation of workplace cameras, other monitoring of the workplace and a notice of the settlement to be posted in the Winchester Road restaurant.

– Bill Dries

Tuesday is Final Day Of Early Voting

Early voting in advance of the March 1 presidential primaries election day could get close to or top 30,000 ballots on Tuesday, Feb. 23, the last day of the early voting period.

Through Saturday, 19,587 citizens had cast early ballots in Shelby County, according to the Shelby County Election Commission.

The highest daily turnout of the voting period was Saturday, when 4,508 people cast early ballots.

Of the overall total since Feb. 10, 11,653 voted in the Democratic primaries and 8,934 voted in the Republican primaries, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office.

In addition to the presidential primaries, the ballot features Democratic and Republican primaries for Shelby County General Sessions Court Clerk.

The Saturday total puts the early voting turnout close to the level it was at during the 2012 Tennessee primaries in Shelby County.

More than 30,000 citizens voted early in advance of the 2008 presidential primaries in Shelby County.

Meanwhile, Shelby County election commissioners have resumed their search for a new elections administrator.

Tammy Smith, assistant elections administrator in Wilson County, Tenn., was offered the job in January. But she turned it down, according to election commission chairman Robert Meyers.

The vacancy was created by the retirement of Richard Holden in December.

– Bill Dries

Lauderdale County Gets New Car Parts Factory

FAIST Light Metals will open a new $3.1 million plant in Ripley, Tenn., that will create 30 new jobs in Lauderdale County.

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced the new plant Monday, Feb. 22.

FAIST, which has its headquarters in Italy, makes automotive components and has two other North American locations.

The company also bought a 65,000-square-foot facility in Ripley for future growth.

Lauderdale County’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2015 was 9.2 percent compared to a 5.3 percent non-seasonally adjusted rate for the state.

– Bill Dries

Study: Smarter to Buy Than Rent In Shelby County

It’s a good time to buy in Shelby County, according to a recent study from SmartAsset. In looking at Tennessee’s major counties, Shelby County came in at No. 6 as one of the best markets to own a home.

The average monthly rent is $1,219 while the average monthly mortgage payments are $488. With an average home price of $120,388, a Shelby County homeowner would break even, or recuperate the upfront costs of buying a home, within 2.5 years.

– Madeline Faber

TransLoc Needs Beta Testers For Memphis Rider App

Transportation technology firm TransLoc is recruiting beta testers the TransLoc Rider with Uber app that’s being piloted by Memphis Area Transit Authority.

MATA is one of two agencies to pilot the updated app, which lets users plot the optimal route to their destination, including a combination of public transit, Uber and walking. If a trip includes Uber, users can hail and book the ride with one click.

By helping riders get to and from transit, the app aims to remove one of the biggest barriers to public transit: the distance to and from the stop.

“This beta program is an opportunity for us to learn how we can improve the experience of transit for riders,” said Alex Gibson, TransLoc product manager. “Community feedback will play a crucial role in helping us reach this goal.”

The Rider app is available for the iOS and Android platforms. Beta testers – who can sign up at hub.transloc.com/uber – will have the opportunity to provide feedback to the development team in exchange for swag and promos from TransLoc and Uber.

– Kate Simone

BBB: Scammers Working Potential Mid-South Victims

The Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South is warning Mid-Southerners about three scams that have had increased activity in this area in the last week.

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division is once again cautioning their customers about two ongoing phone scams.

In the first, scammers are calling restaurant and other business owners in the area and threatening to cut off utilities if supposedly past-due accounts are not paid immediately.

Restaurant owners are reporting that the scam calls are coming in at their busiest times – when they have a restaurant full of patrons.

Another version of this call targets consumers by telling them they’ll get a discount by paying their utility charges in advance. In both versions, the crooks often ask for payment via prepaid debit cards.

The calls are not coming from Memphis Light, Gas and Water. MLGW told BBB that they never demand payments over the phone with prepaid debit cards.

The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department is warning area residents that they’ve been made aware of an uptick in scam phone calls in the area. The callers are warning residents about outstanding warrants and/or fines and threatening arrest if they’re not taken care of immediately.

A statement on the sheriff’s department website says that the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department will not make phone calls of this nature. Another version of this scam has the caller pretending to be an IRS agent.

If the caller asks for any money, usually by way of a prepaid debit/credit card, it is a scam.

A text message scam is currently targeting Mid-Southerners, as well. In this scam, you receive a text in which you’re told that your iTunes or Apple ID account is suspended. The message says to click on the web link included in the text to avoid losing access to your account. Once clicked, you’re asked to input personal information including your Apple ID account number, Social Security number, and credit card information. Within one day this past week, three employees at the Mid-South BBB received variations of this message. Unsolicited text messages can be reported by forwarding the text to SPAM (7726).

– Terry Hollahan

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Blog News, Training & Events
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 105 105 9,674
MORTGAGES 82 82 11,396
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 17 17 1,651
BUILDING PERMITS 134 134 20,444
BANKRUPTCIES 58 58 6,495
BUSINESS LICENSES 27 27 3,473
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 48 48 4,031
MARRIAGE LICENSES 32 32 2,211

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