Given the number of military reservists who are now leaving their jobs for active duty status, many people have questions about the job rights of National Guard and Reserve members. The Department of Labor has recently published a helpful “Frequently Asked Questions” or FAQ guide for Reservists Being Called to Active Duty. The guide covers a servicemember’s rights under USERRA, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which requires that the period of military duty be counted as covered service with the employer for eligibility, vesting and benefit accrual purposes. Activated reservists and their family members who need continued health insurance benefits are also covered by COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) and HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Although these questions normally do not arise so often, they now have been brought to the forefront by the nationwide activation of military reservists, so this guide will help you brush up on the topic, whether you’re a reservist or family member with questions or a lawyer advising reservists.
Here is an interesting development about overtime rules: Employers Seek Change in Comp-Time Rules. It will be an interesting debate to come, to see how the needs of workers who want the flexibility of comp time are balanced with those who have grown accustomed to earning paid overtime. It’s obvious that employers want the flexibility and cost savings of comp time, but some workers also want the option and feel hampered by the FLSA’s existing provisions. Others claim that employers will pressure workers into unwillingly accepting comp time rather supplementing their inadequate incomes with paid overtime. Given the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s involvement, this issue is guaranteed to be on the front burner in the next few months.
A great New York Times op-ed by Bob Herbert ran recently: Jobless, and Stunned. While unemployment claims may have fallen according to today’s reports (see Jobless Claims Fall in Latest Week), the statistics obviously do not tell the full story, especially for those who have exhausted their eligibility for benefits. And the unemployment benefits extension just passed by Congress and signed by the President doesn’t help those the estimated one million Americans who have already exhausted their benefit eligibility. See Bush Signs Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits.
If you’re looking for a fresh perspective on women’s issues and coverage of issues that you won’t find anywhere else, I recommend Women’s E-News. Women’s E-News was founded in 1999 by the National Organization for Women as “an Internet-based news service for all women, with a special emphasis on being a resource for commercial media,” but for the last year has operated as an independent news agency (an inspiration for Workplace Fairness’ future media efforts!). Noteworthy features include “Uncovering Gender,” which looks at gender bias in media coverage, “Outrage of the Week,” which is guaranteed to enrage any progressive-minded person, and extensive coverage of international human rights issues such as genital mutilation and the post-Taliban treatment of Afghani women. All articles are available at the website, but site visitors can also opt for a daily e-mail or weekly digest of the site’s featured stories. You won’t have to deal with advertising or pop-up ads; the site is funded by foundations and individual contributors. Check it out–you’ll like what you see.
This is my first entry in the Workplace Fairness “blog,” short for weblog. In the course of my work as WF’s Program Director, I read many news articles and visit many websites that I believe would interest our site’s visitors, and I would like to pass them along to you in a timely fashion. The blog’s content will focus on legal and political information relevant to employee rights and fairness issues in the workplace. Whether you’re a plaintiff’s lawyer trying to stay on top of the latest case developments and workplace trends without surfing the internet all day long, a worker wanting to know more about what’s happening around the country, or a policy advocate looking for additional information on trends and activism, I hope you’ll find something useful here.
Please contact me via e-mail if you have any questions or comments about the site’s content. While any opinions expressed here will not be the official position of Workplace Fairness as an organization, I anticipate that they’ll be in line with WF’s mission as a
non-profit organization that provides information, education and assistance to individual workers and their advocates nationwide and promotes public policies that advance employee rights.
If you haven’t yet visited the rest of the Workplace Fairness web site, I encourage you to do so, as we are constantly adding new information and features to the site, and believe there’s something there for everyone. Filling the site with content has been a vast undertaking, and is not even close to what WF considers “complete” (if a web site that’s worth its salt can ever be considered complete!) We have reached a point, however, where we’re happy to share it with others, and hope that the vast majority of our site’s current average of 1,000 daily visitors find something useful there. I will occasionally mention new site developments here, but for a more extensive list of site developments, see our What’s New page.
Thanks for your interest in Workplace Fairness, whether it’s the organization or the ideal.