The Network Team celebrated our Christmas party December 7th. Employees enjoy the annual gathering, as it gives a chance for us, who all work remotely, to come together and fellowship as well as enjoy each other's company as well as the wonderful hospitality of TNT owner Linda Gaura. The party always includes a time for employees and managers to share what we are grateful for. This year, we expressed gratitude for spouses, the 'community' feel of the company, and our willingness to serve each other.
In a tough fought battle this year, TNT Salesman of the Year was awarded to Tim Sullivan. Tim has been with the company since its inception. He focuses on the Charlotte, Hickory and NC mountains areas.
Project Manager Mike Wilson handed out special awards to the Engineers as well this year.
Dylan Clifford has been promoted to Senior Network Engineer, and awarded the Mountain Mover award. Dylan has been with TNT since 2013 and is known for his strong work ethic, immense networking knowledge, and willingness to 'tell it like it is.'
Joey Grissom received the Dedicated servant award. Customers know Joey is dependable, loyal, and hard-working. Joey joined TNT in 2014, and continues to grow his skills each year. He, too has stepped up in major ways this year to improve the engineering functions of TNT.
Vitaly Greben was awarded the "Consider It Done" award. As Mike likes to say, he only has to mention a task to V, and he can 'consider it done.' V has been with TNT since its inception, and has worked with Jeff Gaura in Networking for more than a decade.
Courtney Jessamy, who joined the team just a few short months ago, earned the "Rookie of the Year" award. In her short time with TNT, she has impressed managers, co-workers and clients alike with her
The Department of Homeland Security says Cyber crime is the biggest threat to the American Economy. Networking Security can help keep your network safe.
A burglar alarm on your building tells you in real time if and when someone is trying to break into your business. And a security officer can help stop the attack while it's happening, before the thief gets away. But burglary and theft are not the biggest threats to your business.
The Department of Homeland Security claims the greatest threat to the American economy is not the theft of money and property, but cyber crime. It is attackers with no face, name or even traceable citizenship attacking our digital assets. They take our customer information, employee confidential info, and trade secrets and convert the commodities in a market that we don’t know anything about. We never get to see a face, and we get little to no help from law enforcement in finding and prosecuting them. They attack daily, and we don’t even know they are there on most days.
In this video, TNT president Jeff Gaura explains what networking security you need to protect your data using the example of a planned Walmart Heist.
Find the holes in your network, and engage The Network Team to help close them. Contact us today to learn more.
The City of Charlotte is working to ensure it's supporting minority owned businesses to the best of its ability. As part of their efforts, they are studying what percentage of the City's business is routed through minority owned businesses, as well as how many minority owned businesses are available in Charlotte.
The Network Team president Jeff Gaura spoke at the meeting about the challenges TNT (as a woman/minority owned business) has had working with the city. Representatives from construction, pest control, LED lighting, and temporary staffing echoed the same issues.
Here is a transcript of Jeff's talk.
"Thank you for creating a forum for business leaders who represent the under-represented to get a chance to voice their concerns. None of the messages that I am presenting to you today are unique to Charlotte or our region. Indeed, conversations such as this one are being held in municipalities around the country where there are disconnects between what we have always done and what we need to do.
It has been our experience that the City of Charlotte has spent time on trying to include MWSBE (Minority, Women, Small Business Entities) people like The Network Team via construction projects. Construction represents a large portion of the total outlays on expenditures, and we are all grateful that the City has been able to create a program that gives us an opportunity to level the playing field. Thank you for this.
That said, we believe that 20th century thinking with regards to information technology needs to be addressed. Upon a recent conversation with a local project manager for a city project, we posed the question, “why isn’t information technology included in the RFP?” Their answer was by no means scripted, but it accurately describes the geriatric culture in how IT is still viewed through 20th century glasses.
We were told that wiring in the walls is included, but nothing else. We were told that IT, “is like furniture and wall hangings and the occupant is responsible for all of those sorts of things.”
Construction projects include all sorts of trades that are expected to be present and operating before the first full time employee enters the facility to report to work. It is assumed that before anyone enters the building, water is running, there is power available for appliances and systems, heating and cooling are keeping the temperature regulated and the sprinkler systems that keep people safe are working.
All of these assumptions are smart and take public safety into account, but they are also very outdated. Information technology is expected to work, Day Zero, and it is expected to be there, instantly. Communications to support everything need to be a part of all new projects.
Can you imagine a new structure that didn’t have an Internet connection and a firewall in front of it, protecting all computer and mobile phone users from adware, ransomware and viruses? Can you imagine a new facility that is expected to support employees for potentially multiple generations not having wi-fi in the building, all of it using a monitoring application to keep users safe? Lastly, can you imagine a structure without a security system that includes video in appropriate locations and monitoring of key areas where access needs to be controlled?
The City has shown that they can imagine this. These are critical Day Zero technologies that need to be in place before the first worker shows up. However, they are not currently a part of the RFP process nor are they part of INClusion.
Well, they need to be. Other cities have modernized their construction process to include adding critical IT services in their new construction RFPs. Charlotte should do the same.
My 2nd point is in regards to how procurement is done. TNT recently submitted a bid for $200K worth of networking equipment for a county entity. We were told by our contact that we had the lower bid. We had experience with the public entity and had proven our ability to assist with complicated networking issues. Unfortunately, someone decided that all procurement of this nature had to use a State Level IT contract. With good reason, public entities like the predictability of a state contract that requires no bidding. However, this state contract discriminates against small businesses and minority owned businesses. Most importantly for all taxpayers, the state contract created a price that was approximately $40K more than our fixed price bid.
Indeed, today, there are no small or minority owned businesses on any of the state contracts that cover the technology in question. We recommend that the City have its own IT contracts that include opportunities for The Network Team and other MWSBE to provide requested services."
We're eager to learn the findings of the study, and will share them once they are available.
In less than 4 months, monumental changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act compliance, go into effect. After attending an informative presentation on the FLSA changes hosted by the Union County Chamber of Commerce, The Network Team realized IT has the ability to help employers with the FLSA, perhaps for the first time, ever.
What happened with the FLSA changes that I should care about?
The Fair Labor Standards Act was put into place to create accountability for both employers and employees with regards to how pay was calculated and how people got paid. It includes provisions for minimum wage, overtime requirements, limitations on minors and rules about record keeping that every business knows about.
Employers have sought to classify workers who potentially work more than 40 hours as “exempt” since this rule was created. Exempt means that they are not subject to one or more FLSA requirements. Nearly every company has had employees who received a salary, and the company and does not track their hours, as there are definitions for executives, administrative and professional employees who are given an exemption.
Keep in mind that these rules haven’t gone through revision in a long time. Fundamental to that assumption was that these people who were exempt from overtime requirements had an annual salary of at least $23,660. That isn’t much, these days. The government announced on May 18th of this year that the salary must now be $47,476 ($913/week) to keep this exemption. They also announced that they will increase this new number again in 2020.
What does that mean?
The FLSA changes mean anyone who makes less than this new $913/week number now must be paid overtime; even if the employer and employee both think that they should be on salary. The government provided a few work arounds to help employers get their employees who used to exempt up to this new number.
Discretionary bonuses based on profits and performance, incentive payments, and commissions, can be used to help add up to the new $913/week number. However, they all must be paid on a quarterly or more frequent basis.
Unfortunately, specifically ruled out are catch up payments and discretionary bonuses paid at year end.
To make matters worse for employers, none of these other compensation methods can add up to more than 10% of their total pay. To translate: If your employee doesn’t have a base pay of $42,728.40 per year, you will have to treat them as non-exempt and pay them overtime.
The courts have already ruled repeatedly in favor of employees who should have been paid overtime and were not done so by the employers. In these cases, here is what happens:
The employee gets what is due them.
They automatically are entitled to liquidated damages. That means that they get double what was due them.
The employer is responsible for some if not all legal bills, no matter how outrageous the former employee spends on attorneys
As an example, in the case of Williams vs. New Hope Foundation, the court threw out most of the employee’s claims. However, it upheld that the employee was due $36 in compensation in the form of travel reimbursement. New Hope was then told to write a check for $25000 for Williams’ attorney’s fees needed to recoup their missing $36. New Hope thought this ruling to be ludicrous and they appealed to the NC Court of Appeals. They appeal court upheld the lower court’s ruling.
Imagine if a couple of disgruntled employees were let go, and they had sent items that showed several times a week they were answering questions from their supervisors or the customers that they serve after hours. Here is a chart.
Although many companies attempt to create a policy that states “don’t do these things,” those policies mean nothing if they are not enforced. More than one employee has been told that they are fired after working overtime, only for the company to learn that they are responsible for paying the employee for the overtime that the employee worked before being reprimanded and then subsequently terminated.
Why do you need IT to fix this?
The courts have already ruled that time spent sending and receiving emails, and accessing company files after normal work hours is a compensatory activity that you have to account for in the employee’s calculation of number of hours worked. They have also ruled that time spent on the phone discussing work, or talking to other employees about work, is compensatory. Previously employers have assumed that time spent commuting to and from work was not compensatory, as there are specific provisions that state the contrary. However, those rules were written before the advent of smart phones, and the rules have now changed.
TNT can assist your attempts to monitor these actions by creating an application for you that will send you weekly reports showing:
- All attempts to send and receive email, after hours
- All attempts to access the network and the data on it, after hours
Although these logs won’t prevent you from paying overtime, they will alert you as to when an employee has started performing tasks that you don’t want them to do at that time and give you an opportunity to reprimand them before you find yourself in a deep hole of overtime pay due.
Our applications are offered as a per employee per month offering, with a one-time setup fee. Contact us today to learn more about this offering to help you with the FLSA changes.