The Supreme Court grappled Monday with the growing problem of employers retaliating in the workplace after an employee complains of sex or race discrimination. Several justices were sympathetic to the plight of railroad forklift operator Sheila White, who was suspended without pay for 37 days in 1997 after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. But the conservative trio of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito voiced concern about what legal standard should be used to evaluate the seriousness of changes in employment made by supervisors who may be angry over a worker's discrimination complaint. Read the full story.
Brenda Schoonover, 38, is nearly the last of her breed: a female underground coal miner. There are thought to be only two in Eastern Kentucky, and perhaps half a dozen more in Western Kentucky. It is a long fall from the 1970s and 1980s, when dozens, maybe hundreds, of Kentucky women, backed by formidable verdicts in federal sex discrimination lawsuits, went to work mining coal. It became a national movement. The absence of women in Appalachia's deep mines and in miner-certification training classes puzzles those who helped open coal-mine portals for women in the 1970s. Read the full story.
Without any fanfare or philosophical debate, millionaires and middle-class Americans now pay taxes at almost the same rates. Has leveling out federal income tax rates produced a cornucopia of financial benefits? The answer is probably yes--if you're a millionaire. And probably no--if you're almost anyone else. Flattened, and thus lower, tax rates have contributed to huge increases in the wealth of the wealthy, but so far most people haven't seen significant economic improvement. Average family income fell by 2% between 2001 and 2004 after adjusting for inflation. In the previous three-year period, average family income grew by 17%. Read the full story.
Serious criminal charges once typically reserved for drug traffickers and organized-crime figures are increasingly being used to target businesses that employ illegal immigrants. The little-publicized approach, which can include charging such employers with money laundering and seizing their assets, amounts to a strategic shift in the enforcement of immigration law in the workplace. A single criminal investigation last year resulted in settlements and forfeitures of $15 million, an amount that surpassed the sum of administrative fines--the traditional tool of workplace enforcement--from the previous eight years. Read the full story.
We all have real things to worry about at work: job stability, a raise, making sure there are no mistakes on that big project. But what is it that really gets us stressed out and fired up? When someone walks away with our pen. A colleague who talks too loudly on the phone. The pod-mate's cellphone. Workplace pet peeves--they're just too silly to complain to anyone about. But after a while, those little peeves permeate our day and grate on us to the point where we want to pull our ears over our heads and hide with the dust bunnies under our desks. They may seem like little problems that we blow up into big issues, but those pet peeves can actually make us feel that we are about as important to our co-workers and bosses as those dust bunnies. Read the full story.
As Congress debates an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, several economists and news media pundits have sounded the alarm, contending that illegal immigrants are causing harm to Americans in the competition for jobs. Yet a more careful examination of the economic data suggests that the argument is, at the very least, overstated. There is scant evidence that illegal immigrants have caused any significant damage to the wages of American workers. Read the full story.