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Business in brief: Deaconess nurses ratify pay raise

Fri., March 9, 2007

Registered nurses at Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center ratified a pay raise this week.

The vote affects more than 800 nurses at the two Empire Health Services hospitals.

The raises came during the middle of the contract the unionized nurses have with Empire to alleviate concerns that pay disparities were harming the hospitals’ recruitment and retention efforts.

The vote was 98 percent in favor. The average increase is more than 9 percent of base pay, depending on years of experience and the nurse’s job, according to a press release by union SEIU 1199NW.

Alexandria, Va.

Jury rules Vonage infringed patents

Internet phone company Vonage infringed on three patents held by Verizon Communications and must pay $58 million plus possible future royalties to its competitor, a jury said Thursday.

The judgment by the eight-person jury is far less than the $197 million Verizon had requested, and was even slightly less than what Vonage had suggested would be fair if it were found liable.

Still undetermined is whether Holmden, N.J.-based Vonage will be barred from using Verizon’s technology or how the verdict might affect the Internet phone company’s 2.2 million subscribers.

Following the decision, attorneys for New York-based Verizon requested a permanent injunction barring Vonage from further use of the patented technology.


Center Partners named in lawsuit

A former Center Partners employee is suing the company, alleging that she was forced to quit her job after a co-worker sexually harassed her.

According to the suit, Laura L. Ward was subject to repeated and unwelcome sexual advances from the co-worker during the 11 months she worked for Center Partners, including requests for sexual favors. Ward was forced to resign in September 2005 due to a hostile work environment, the suit said.

According to the suit, Ward told managers that she was being harassed, but they failed to take action.

Ward is seeking a judgment in excess of $75,000 for economic damages and emotional distress.

Calls to Center Partners’ corporate office in Fort Collins, Colo., were not returned Thursday afternoon.


Households hit record net worth

The net worth of U.S. households climbed to a record high in the final quarter of last year, boosted mostly by gains on stocks, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

Net worth – the difference between households’ total assets, such as houses and bank accounts, and their total liabilities, such as mortgages and credit card debt, totaled $55.6 trillion in the October-to-December quarter.

For all of last year, households’ net worth rose by 7.4 percent, a slower pace than the 7.9 percent increase registered in 2005.


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