Chamber Connections BLOG
Chamber Connections BLOG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2023
Forbes Selects Washington Trust to the Best-In-State Banks 2023 List
Recognized as Best Bank in Rhode Island by Independent Consumer Survey
Westerly, R.I. – The Washington Trust Company (“Washington Trust”; “the Bank”) today announced that the Bank has been selected to the Forbes list of Best-In-State Banks 2023. This prestigious award is presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. The awards list was announced on June 20th, 2023, and can currently be viewed on the Forbes website. Washington Trust was one of 137 unique banks across the United States selected for the Forbes list.
“We are proud to be recognized by Forbes as the Best-In-State Bank in Rhode Island,” stated Edward O. “Ned” Handy III, Washington Trust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Throughout our 222+ year history, Washington Trust has been a community partner that provides trusted financial advice and personalized solutions to our customers. This honor reflects the value our customers place in us.”
Forbes and Statista identified Best-In-State Banks 2023 based on two sources:
ABOUT WASHINGTON TRUST®
Founded in 1800, Washington Trust is the oldest community bank in the nation and one of the Northeast’s premier financial services companies. Washington Trust offers a full range of financial services, including commercial banking, mortgage banking, personal banking and wealth management and trust services through its offices located in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Washington Trust Company is a subsidiary of Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc., (NASDAQ: WASH). Additional information on Washington Trust can be found at washtrust.com.
# # #
By Amanda LaRose, Owner, LCSW/LICSW, CIMHP
What is the Integrative Wellness Program at Rhode Island Oak Counseling & Wellness?
Wellness is about physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being. Rhode Island Oak Counseling & Wellness presents the standard of its vision of Wellness through its Integrative Wellness Program. Our Integrative Wellness Program aims for well-coordinated care among different providers under one roof, by bringing conventional and complementary wellness approaches together to care for the whole person. In addition to our popular stand-alone services: Counseling, Yoga, Acupuncture, Herbalism, Dietary Consult, and Massage Therapy, our Integrative Wellness Program provides Foundational, Enhanced, and Comprehensive levels of service to clients who wish to experience an encompassing journey on their path to wellness.
At Rhode Island Oak Counseling and Wellness, we promote healing and growth using client-centered treatments and evidence-based interventions. We use a model of wellness that includes attending to six key points of wellness:
Counseling: This addresses the mental and emotional side of healing. By talking with an objective, licensed professional, clients are able to gain awareness, and develop coping skills that can help reduce symptoms and improve psychological well-being.
Client Testimonial: "I have had the opportunity to experience multiple counselors to find the best fit. It’s helped me pull the physical health wellness into mental health and put them together to get the most benefit and more quickly. There are many layers to wellness. The difference over three months in my anxiety is an incredible improvement.”
Client Testimonial: “ The therapist has been a life saver, I was able to establish a rapport with her quickly. She helps me get to the root of what is bothering me and how to help myself. “
Acupuncture: This involves the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body. Common benefits include reduced stress, reduced back and neck pain, relieved joint tension, reduced pain in hands and arms, headache relief, enhanced mental clarity and increased energy. It can also provide relief from insomnia, anxiety, depression and migraines.
Client Testimonial: "Acupuncture was something I was a little nervous about because I hadn’t done it but the acupuncturist helped me feel comfortable to get the treatment and to open up to talk about my experience with it."
Client Testimonial: “Acupuncturist is a gentle soul and you feel like you are stepping into a cradle and being so comforted.”
Massage Therapy: Massage therapy at Rhode Island Oak Counseling & Wellness is provided by licensed professionals who are trained to determine problem areas which focus on the soft tissue — the muscles, tendons and ligaments that move and support your body.
Our integrative wellness approach uses therapeutic massage to complement other therapies you may already be receiving, or as a stand-alone therapy, to treat a particular area of your body.
During a massage therapy session, you can expect our licensed therapists to manipulate the soft tissue of the body by using varying degrees of pressure in order to release knots and tension. After your session you will notice reduced stress, relaxation, improved circulation, released tension, and improved sleep patterns. Of course, results will vary depending on each client.
Client Testimonial: “The Massage Therapist is the best I have ever had. She fixes everything.”
Dietary Consult: Learn how proper nutrition, and consuming bioavailable food sources impacts daily life; explore how potential changes in diet can have a positive impact on physiology and psychological well-being.
Yoga: Our bodies are meant to move. Research has demonstrated time and again the important relationship between physical activity and wellness. We are fortunate to have an amazing Yoga Studio at our Wellness Center. Yoga helps the physical body by increasing flexibility, muscle strength and tone, maintaining a balanced metabolism, reducing weight, aiding in cardio and circulatory health, improved athletic performance and protection from injury. A recent publication by the Harvard Medical School noted that yoga can boost your mood by lowering levels of stress hormones, increasing the production of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins, and bringing more oxygenated blood to your brain.
Client Testimonial: "I love the yoga classes here! They are varied and great for all levels, and the convenient sign up process and location are wonderful."
Client Testimonial: “A lot of the stuff that I am doing in yoga here, it is more gentle and I can even do some at home, so my mobility has increased.”
Herbalism: Herbal medicine is the art and science of using herbs for promoting health and preventing and treating illness. In terms of its general benefits, they can be restorative, support the body and allow for a natural first port of call for minor ailments without immediately reaching for conventional drugs in a world where we are all more mindful about over use. Methods of consumption: herbal teas, skincare routine, essential oils, herbal steam inhalation when you have a cold; Or adding particular herbs and spices to foods for their healing properties. Herbology products in wellness programs are a good way to introduce herbology into your wellbeing.
No matter our current situation, we crave wellness. Being Well fulfills our lives and centers and balances us in the present. Often times, this is easier said than done but there are practices which can help us cope, and our Integrative Wellness Program has been known to do just that. At Rhode Island Oak Counseling & Wellness, we are trained to integrate our Wellness Services together in such a way that focuses on healing, balance, and growth and sets you on a path to Wellness.
Client Testimonial: "Breathing helps me be more mindful in the present moment. When I’m stressed I take a deep breath without even thinking about it. I have developed confidence in the Integrative Wellness Program treatment, and want to do it because it makes me feel better.”
Client Testimonial: “I would love to refer others so they can get support to come up with a plan for how to get to where you want to be and have all the services in one center.
To learn more, please visit our updated website:
Phone: (401) 366-2426
Address: Rhode Island Oak Counseling & Wellness, 2984 E Main Rd, Portsmouth, RI 02871
2023 Legislative Session Comes a Close
At 1:40 am June 16th, the legislative session wrapped up. The last day of session is always difficult as one branch must wait while the other acts on bills and sends them back to ensure that the language is identical to companion bills. It’s a messy process, but one that is unavoidable and difficult to explain to those that do not spend their days at the State House. Bills passed by both the House and Senate are transmitted to the Governor for his consideration. Once that process is complete, we will send a full list of new laws in a final wrap-up edition of Advocacy in Action.
Bills Passed By Both the House and Senate
Budget – The $14 billion budget passed and has already been signed into law by Governor McKee. This budget includes the Chamber’s priority issue of reducing the tangible tax for all businesses and eliminating the tangible tax for 75% of Rhode Island businesses. Fifty thousand dollars of value will be eliminated from the tangible tax assessment in all municipalities with the State providing reimbursement to communities.
Wage Theft/Independent Contractor - S.1079 SubAaa and H.5902 SubAaa – The final versions create felony penalties if an employer knowingly and willfully: (1) fails to pay employees on a regular pay day and the amount owed is over $1500, (2) fails to pay any employee wages owed at the time of termination of employment and the amount is over $1500, or (3) fails to pay wages owed to a deceased employee to the appropriate person/entity within 30 days of death, and the amounts owed are greater than $1500.
The bills adopt the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) definition of independent contractor by directing the Department of Labor and Training (DLT) to review all complaints of misclassification using those factors. The bills require DLT to undergo an investigation of complaints with the assistance of the Underground Economy Task Force. The findings, along with a recommendation, is given to the Director of DLT who then passes it along to the Attorney General with the Director’s recommendations.
A business that misclassifies employees under the new test, is liable for civil penalties in the amount of $1500 - $3,000 for each misclassified employee for the first offense and up to $5000 for each misclassified employee for any subsequent offense. The money is divided equally between the DLT and the individual harmed. Any “construction industry” related entity that knowingly and willfully violates the new standard is guilty of a misdemeanor if the value is less than $1500, or a felony if the value is greater than $1500 and it is a second offense. If the construction related business or individual misclassifies employees in a manner that is not knowing and willful, the penalty reverts back to a civil penalty of $1,500-$3,000 per misclassified employee.
Lastly, any “party” that is not an employer but intentionally contracts with an employer that intends to misclassify employees is subject to the same penalties as the employer.
Independent Contractor Registration – H.5710 SubA and S.427 SubB, require independent contractors to file electronically with the Department of Labor on an annual basis, “regardless of how many forms are filed.” This would seem to suggest an annual filing for each client. There is no fee tied to the filing requirement. The bill becomes effective January 1, 2024.
Data Breach – H.5684 SubAaa passed both the House and the Senate, while the Senate sponsor chose not to amend his bill (S.425) to mirror the House bill thus letting it die in committee. The House amended H.5684 to apply to State agencies and municipalities only. Businesses remain under the same rules of notification to customers within 45 days of discovery of a data breach and including information as to what customers can do to protect themselves. H.5684 SubAaa requires State agencies and municipalities to notify affected employees/customers within 30 days of discovery of a breach and pay for five years of remediation services for adults and remediation services for minors until the age of twenty. The Senate sponsor, Senator DiPalma felt strongly that the remediation service requirements should apply to all businesses.
Electric Vehicle Parking Lot Infrastructure – S.988 aa passed both the House and Senate while the House duplicate bill, H.5159, failed to make it to the finish line. S.988aa requires large employers – defined as those with 100 employees located in a single complex – to install circuitry and other necessary equipment to support Level 2 or DC fast chargers in new parking lots as well as lots undergoing a 50% expansion renovation. The mandate also applies to big box stores, grocery stores, housing developments with more than twenty units, malls, hotels, and certain municipal buildings. The bill was amended during the final hours of session to apply only to new projects awarded subsequent to January 1, 2024 that receive any form of public funding. Public funding is defined as “funds derived from federal, state or municipal sources; in-kind remuneration from any federal, state or municipal source; gifts or grants from any federal, state or municipal source; revenue sharing or other federal, state or municipal payments of any nature, intergovernmental transfers; tax stabilization agreements, revenues resulting from the sale of state or municipal bonds; or by the sale or lease of any property owned by the federal government, the State of Rhode Island, and/or any municipality of the state.”
Gift Card Sales - H.5732SubA and S.759SubaAaa are headed to the Governor’s desk. The bills require all businesses that sell gift cards to display a notice at the location where cards are sold. The notice must caution the purchaser about prepaid card scams and instruct the purchaser on what to do if they suspect they might be a potential victim of such a scam. The Department of Business Regulation is charged with determining the content and form of the notice. Failure to comply with the law can result in a penalty of up to $250 per violation. Once signed, the law would take effect upon passage.
New State Holiday for Employers - June 19th, referred to as Juneteenth, is set to become the newest state holiday for which employers are required to pay holiday pay to employees. H.5380 and S.444 passed and have already been transmitted to the Governor.
Ban on Polystyrene Containers – H.5090 SubA and S.14 SubB passed the House and Senate. These bills ban most food establishments from using polystyrene containers for food and beverages beginning January 1, 2025. Any establishment that fails to comply is subject to a fine of up to $100. Exemptions do exist for hospitals, agricultural fairs, nursing homes, etc.
Non-disclosure Agreements – S.342aa passed both the House and Senate, while the House companion bill, H.5929 SubA failed to make it through the final step of passage on the Senate floor. S.342aa makes it an unlawful employment practice to require an employee as a condition of employment, to execute a nondisclosure agreement or an agreement with a clause that requires alleged violations of civil rights remain confidential, or a non-disparagement agreement concerning alleged violations of civil rights or alleged unlawful conduct. It becomes effective upon enactment.
Bills That Did Not Make the Cut
Workplace Psychological Safety Act - S.821 SubA, died in the House Labor Committee. This bill proposed to create rules, and procedures for employers and penalties for employers that fail to comply, to curtail behaviors in the workplace including: exclusion, marginalization, spreading of lies, withholding vital information, abusive gestures, frequent request for work below competence level, long-term assigning of tasks beyond the employee’s duties without compensation, physical isolation, ignoring, regular inconsistent instructions, unmanageable workloads, taking credit for work, making snide comments or ridicule publicly, exclusion from work-related social gatherings, changes that could jeopardize future career prospects, discounting a person’s work proposals or opinions, persistent criticism, excessive monitoring, threat of dismissal, and changing work conditions or duties.
Parental and Family Medical Leave Expansion - S.145 passed the Senate but died in the House Labor Committee. The bill proposed to increase the amount of parental or family leave available to an employee from thirteen (13) weeks to twenty-four (24) weeks in any two (2) calendar years.
Wage Stubs and Employee Handbook Mandate - S.663 passed the Senate but died in the House Labor Committee. The bill would have required employers to provide wage payment information and a type of “mini employee handbook” to employees in each employee’s primary language.
Non-compete Clauses – S.888, sought to eliminate the use of non-compete agreements except when they are used during the purchase and sale of a business. Agreements not to share client lists, trade secrets or business plans were still enforceable under the legislation.
Last Week At the State House
House Passes Budget
The House passed a $14 billion budget in a record 2 hours 45 minutes. Most amendments offered were technical in nature; however additional monies were added for early childhood learning efforts. A double counting of $5 million in ARPA funds in the current year fiscal budget freed up some monies for other programs. The budget now sits in the Senate Finance Committee and will be heard Tuesday at 3:00 pm. The House and Senate hope to finish their 2023 business this week.
Data Breach Bill Passes Committee
You received a “Call to Action” last week concerning H.5684 SubA. This bill proposed to change notice requirements and remediation service requirements following a data breach within a company. The bill was filed in response to the RIPTA data breach in which the agency failed to comply with the current law of notification to individuals within 45 days of the breach.
The Committee passed a SubA that keeps the notification requirement at 45 days for non-governmental entities but still requires businesses to pay for 5 years of remediation services for each adult customer whose information was compromised and remediation services to age 20 for minors.
Chairwoman Baginski stated during the hearing that discussions with the various interested parties continue. The Chamber continues to advocate for amendments to the remediation service requirements
Monday, June 12th
Wage Theft - H.5902 An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Payment of Wages is scheduled for a vote Monday at 3:00 in the House Judiciary Committee.
Last week, the Senate passed S.1079 without changing the definition of independent contractor. The Senate bill creates felony penalties if an employer knowingly and willfully: (1) fails to pay employees on a regular pay day and the amount owed is over $1500 (2) pay any employee wages owed at the time of termination of employment and the amount is over $1500 (3) fails to withhold union dues and pay those dues to the union, (4) fails to pay wages owed to a deceased employee to the appropriate person/entity within 30 days of death, and the amounts owed are greater than $1500 or (5) misclassifies an individual as an independent contractor. S.1079 as amended is scheduled for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, but it will likely be amended.
The House Judiciary Committee posted a SubA for H.5902 yesterday afternoon. The SubA can be viewed at: http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText23/Proposed23/H5902A.pdf
The Sub A keeps all of the Senate language declaring it a felony to knowingly and willfully fail to pay employees on the regular pay day, at the time of termination, and to deceased employees provided the amount owed is greater than $1500. (It does not include the collection of union dues)
The proposed amendment directs the Department of Labor and Training (DLT) to review all complaints of misclassification and to review those complaints using factors consistent with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). What is the test under the FLSA?
The U.S. Supreme Court has on a number of occasions indicated that there is no single rule or test for determining whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee for purposes of the FLSA. The Court has held that it is the total activity or situation which controls. Among the factors which the Court has considered significant are:
1. The extent to which the services rendered are an integral part of the principal's business.
2. The permanency of the relationship.
3. The amount of the alleged contractor's investment in facilities and equipment.
4. The nature and degree of control by the principal.
5. The alleged contractor's opportunities for profit and loss.
6. The amount of initiative, judgment, or foresight in open market competition with others required for the success of the claimed independent contractor.
7. The degree of independent business organization and operation.
There are certain factors which are immaterial in determining whether there is an employment relationship. Such facts as the place where work is performed, the absence of a formal employment agreement, or whether an alleged independent contractor is licensed by State/local government are not considered to have a bearing on determinations as to whether there is an employment relationship. Additionally, the Supreme Court has held that the time or mode of pay does not control the determination of employee status. (see USDOL Wage and Hour Division https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/13-flsa-employment-relationship )
H.5902 SubA requires DLT to undergo an investigation of complaints together with the assistance of the Underground Economy Task Force. The findings, along with a recommendation, is given to the Director of DLT who then passes it along to the Attorney General with the Director’s recommendations.
A business that misclassifies employees under the new test, is liable for civil penalties in the amount of $1500 - $3,000 for each misclassified employee for the first offense and up to $5000 for each misclassified employee for any subsequent offense. The money is divided equally between the DLT and the individual harmed. Any “construction industry” related entity that knowingly and willfully violates the new standard is guilty of a misdemeanor if the value is less than $1500, or a felony if the value is greater than $1500. If the construction related business or individual misclassifies employees in a manner that is not knowing and willful, the penalty appears to revert back to a civil penalty of $1,500-$3,000 per misclassified employee for the first offense and up to $5,000 for a subsequent offense. (It may be difficult to claim a subsequent offense was not knowing and willful).
Lastly, any “party” that is not an employer but intentionally contracts with an employer that intends to misclassify employees is subject to the same penalties as the employer.
H.5902 SubA includes an annual reporting requirement for both DLT and the Attorney General’s office. The reports must include a disaggregating of complaints including those found to have no violation present. The effective date of the new definition and penalties is January 1, 2024.
Gift Card Sales - A bill placing notice requirements on businesses that sell gift cards is scheduled for a vote Monday in the House Corporations Committee at the Rise. H.5732, An Act Relating to Commercial Law – Gift Card Fraud, originally required all entities that sell gift cards to display a notice at the location where cards are sold. The notice must caution the purchaser about prepaid card scams and instruct the purchaser on what to do if they suspect they might be a potential victim of such a scam. The Department of Business Regulation is charged with determining the content and form of the notice. The original bill also included a provision requiring employers to train employees on how to identify and respond to gift card fraud. This language was removed in the amendment under consideration Monday. The amendment also reduces the penalty from the original $500 per violation to “up to $250” per violation. If passed, the law would take effect upon passage.
TDI and TCI Requirements - The House Labor Committee is scheduled to vote on H.5591 which provides a private right of action as a penalty for an employer’s violation of the temporary caregiver’s law. Employers are required to reinstate the employee at the return from leave and restore seniority and other benefits to the employee. Additionally, the employer is required to maintain the employee’s health insurance while the employee is out on leave. H.5591 also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee that exercises rights under the temporary caregiver’s law. Lastly, the bill oddly provides a private right of action to employees that fail to correctly receive Sunday or Holiday pay. RIGL 25-3-9 already gives employees the ability to file a civil suit and, if successful, the employee is entitled to reinstatement, double the amount of back pay, interest, attorney fees and court costs.
New State Holiday for Employers - June 19th, referred to as Juneteenth, may become the newest state holiday for which employers are required to pay holiday pay to employees. H.5380 and S.444, Act Relating to Holidays and Days of Special Observances is scheduled for a vote Monday in the House Special Legislation Committee at 3:45 pm.
Independent Contractor Registration – H.5710 SubA, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Workers Compensation is scheduled for a vote Monday in House Labor. The amended language requires independent contractors to file electronically with the Department of Labor on an annual basis, “regardless of how many forms are filed.” This would seem to suggest an annual filing for each client. The bill currently has an effective date of January 1, 2024. The Senate companion bill, S.427, was amended last week to remove the $50 registration filing fee, but this version does not reference electronic means of filing and takes effect upon passage. The Senate bill is scheduled for a vote Tuesday in House Labor.
Tuesday, June 13th
Non-compete Clauses – S.888, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations eliminates the use of non-compete agreements except when they are used during the purchase and sale of a business. Agreements not to share client lists, trade secrets or business plans are still enforceable under the legislation. S.888 is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee as is H.5929, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations which bans the use of non-disclosure and non-disparage agreements when dealing with alleged violations of civil rights.
This Week’s Cybersecurity Tip of the Week, provided by PacketLogix
IT Security Tip: Be VERY careful of what you put in any e-mail
Never forget that e-mail constitutes a legal record and can be admissible in legal actions, not only in the courtroom, but in the court of public opinion. People sue peoples for all kinds of silly reasons. Family members get into disputes, couples get divorced, consumers sue merchants and vendors can pursue delinquent clients.
Whenever a lawyer is looking for damaging evidence, one of the first things they’ll ask for are e-mail records – and deleting them does NOT save you. Just look at what happened to Hillary!
E-mail is also not private. Employers have the right to monitor employees’ work e-mail; and if you e-mail anything to a “friend,” you have no legal right to prevent them from posting it or forwarding it.
So before you hit “send,” take a minute to make absolutely certain your e-mail doesn’t contain something you don’t want public. Pretend your boss/parent/spouse/religious leader/kids are copied on every e-mail you write. Better yet, pretend your worst enemy is…then edit before you hit “send.”
Cybercrime is at an all-time high, and hackers are setting their sights on small and medium businesses who are “low hanging fruit.” Don’t be their next victim! To download this free report that reveals the most common ways that hackers get in and how to protect yourself today go to www.packetlogix.com
For a very limited time, at no cost to your company, we will conduct a dark web scan looking for your company’s hacked credentials for sale on the dark web. Contact Nikki Manalansan at 401-227-2695 or firstname.lastname@example.org for us to start your dark web scan today.
Thanks for your Time and Consideration
Terrence Boylan, CEO
It was a fun Ribbon Cutting at new member @Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island on Saturday morning at their new Donation Drop-off Center at 705 Metacom Avenue in Bristol. We love our Chamber members!
Wage Theft Bill – Independent Contractor Update– CALL TO ACTION Continues