January 12, 2018
Source: Dana Dovey, Newsweek
A new Pew Research Center survey gives a glimpse of what it’s like to be a black person working in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) job. The self-reported survey, which was published Monday and is based on a sample of 4,914 adults ages 18 and older, shows drastic differences in how workers of different races feel their ethnicity affects their current position. Results revealed that black workers report far more racial discrimination than other ethnic groups. Overall, black STEM workers were more likely than other workers to report that their race or ethnicity had made it harder for them to excel in their career, with 40 percent reporting that their race made it harder to succeed in their field. Only 31 percent of Asians, 19 percent of Hispanics and 5 percent of whites said the same.
Source: Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post
The Labor Department revived 17 opinion letters to employers issued during the final days of George W. Bush's second term, a move that represents a shift in how the department will enforce compliance with overtime and other wage requirements. The letters from the Wage and Hour Division, which were withdrawn once Barack Obama took office, provide interpretations of how the Fair Labor Standards Act applies in individual cases. The Obama administration stopped issuing these letters altogether, instead releasing broader "Administrator's Interpretations" that laid out how the department viewed employers' specific obligations under the law.
January 11, 2018
Source: Nancy Cook and Marianne LeVine , POLITICO
The #MeToo movement has created an atmosphere of zero tolerance for any claims of sexual harassment involving prominent men in entertainment, the media, business and Congress — but so far it seems that rule doesn’t apply in the Trump administration. Latest case in point: The White House is considering finding a role for Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump’s first pick for labor secretary, who withdrew his nomination in February after old allegations of domestic abuse resurfaced, according to three people familiar with the discussions. It’s not clear what role Puzder might take in the administration, these people said, though it would have to be a non-Senate-confirmed slot given his withdrawal as labor secretary. Puzder, who denied the abuse allegations made by his ex-wife in a 1990 appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” also acknowledged employing an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper before dropping out.
Source: Jack Nicas , The Wall Street Journal
Former Google female employees last week sued the company for allegedly discriminating against women. On Monday, former male employees sued Google for allegedly discriminating against conservative white men. The dueling lawsuits illustrate the increasing tensions over differences in how men and women are treated in the workplace, an issue that has exploded as revelations of inequality and sexual harassment have rocked industries ranging from tech to entertainment to media.
January 10, 2018
Source: Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times
With labor unions seeing their influence wane, more than 200 organizations have sprouted nationwide to help low-wage workers. But nearly all these groups say they are hampered by a lack of dependable funding because, unlike unions, they cannot rely on a steady flow of dues.
Source: Shirin Ghaffary , Recode
About three-quarters of women who work in computer programming and other computer-related jobs say they’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center today. The study revealed a high percentage of women working in a wide swath of computer-related jobs suffered some form of discrimination, including sexual harassment. That compares with just 16 percent of men.
January 9, 2018
Source: Corinne Purtill , Quartz
Later this year, a new law will go into effect in New York City, allowing workers to use paid family leave to care for anyone they personally define as family, regardless of whether that relationship falls into neat biological categories. These changes are small but significant steps towards rectifying a dire situation in the US, where, in 2017, only 15% of employees had access to paid family leave. They’re especially important because they recognize a shifting social landscape in which the traditionally-defined “nuclear family”—a married man and woman and their minor children—describes an ever-shrinking number of US families’ actual living arrangements. They also acknowledge the breadth of human relationships that has always existed, and the reality that we don’t always have biological ties to the people we count on the most.
Source: Suzy Khimm , NBC News
The number of federal workplace safety inspectors has fallen under the Trump administration, according to new data obtained by NBC News, raising questions about the government's efforts to protect workers and the long-term impact of the White House's move to slow hiring. In the months after President Donald Trump took office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lost 40 inspectors through attrition and made no new hires to fill the vacancies as of Oct. 2, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. OSHA's reduced staff reflects Trump's broader effort to slow the growth of the federal bureaucracy and is a part of the mass departure of civil servants across the government, from the Internal Revenue Service to the Environmental Protection Agency.
January 8, 2018
Source: Geoffrey Riley, April Ehrlich, John Baxter, Jefferson Public Radio
We get a primer on sexual harassment and discrimination from Paula Brantner, former executive director and now Senior Advisor at WF.
Source: Sydney Ember , The New York Times
Source: John Dillon, VPR
January 5, 2018
Source: Jeff Daniels, CNBC
Two California state lawmakers Wednesday introduced a bill that would require hotels to provide housekeepers with a "panic button" to prevent violent assaults and sexual harassment. Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, jointly introduced the so-called hotel maid "panic button" bill with Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward. If it gets passed, it would make California the first in the nation to have a statewide law requiring hotels to provide employees working alone in guest rooms with a panic button. Also, the California bill would impose a three-year ban for any guest accused of violence or sexual harassment against an employee and keep a list of those accusations for five years.
Source: Simon Lazarus , The American Prospect
Argued on October 2, this case could strip foundational safeguards in place for over 80 years, essential to ensuring millions of low-wage and non-union workers of their right to fair pay, job security, workplace safety, nondiscrimination, and other guarantees protected by state and federal law. The case gives the Roberts Court, with its newly reconstituted 5-4 conservative majority, a chance to escalate its pro-corporate activism to levels unmatched even by the famously anti-regulatory pre-New Deal Court of a century ago. If the Court reaches the result sought by business advocates, this would, as elaborated by two Seton Hall professors in a 2014 law review article, “effectively end the labor laws.”
January 4, 2018
Source: Aine Cain, Business Insider
Reactions to the Republicans' new tax plan have indicated that many believe it favors the wealthy over everyone else. Business Insider's Bob Bryan reported that 8.5 million people may see their taxes increase this year, while 4.6 million middle class Americans might see a spike in taxes by 2025. In the short term, Business Insider's Lauren Lyons Cole reported that take-home pay is set to rise under the tax reform plan for most workers, but the majority of Americans won't get a ton of extra money. How much you save depends on how much you currently earn. Following is a look at how blue collar workers in a number of occupations, from fast food cooks to electrical power-line installers and repairers, could see their taxes change next year.
January 3, 2018
Source: Tanvi Misra, CityLab
Hospitality and domestic workers suffer staggering rates of sexual harassment and assault. But they are among women still largely omitted from the #MeToo movement—and many federal protections.
Source: Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press
Government safety agencies, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, recommend employers monitor the physical condition of workers and make sure they drink enough to stay hydrated. In cold, people tend to drink less.
Source: Andrew Khouri, The Los Angeles Times
Complaints over immigration-related retaliation threats surged last year in California, according to the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Through Dec. 22, workers had filed 94 immigration-related retaliation claims with the office, up from 20 in all of 2016 and only seven a year earlier.
January 2, 2018
Source: David Robb, Deadline
It was a good year for Hollywood’s unions, except for two things: Donald Trump and the ever-widening sexual harassment scandal that came to involve many of their members as both victims and perpetrators. How the unions responded tested their mettle like never before and will continue to do so in the year and years to come. It was a year that saw the Writers Guild come perilously close to an industry-crippling strike, only to be averted with a last-minute deal that saved its failing health plan. It was a year that saw the end to the longest strike in Hollywood’s history – SAG-AFTRA’s 340-day walkout against the video game industry — and a year that saw the election or re-election of new presidents at all the major guilds and unions.
Source: Jessica Mason , Slate
Working people in New York state will ring in the new year with an important new right on the job: up to eight weeks of paid family leave (increasing to 12 weeks by 2021). Here’s what workers in New York—and advocates for paid leave across the country—need to know about paid leave in the Empire State.
January 1, 2018
Source: Andrea Miller, ABC News
“Having all this come to light sent a message that wild, free-wheeling days in Silicon Valley are over” said Paula Brantner, executive director of Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit organization working to preserve and promote employees’ rights.
Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times
The new tax law is likely to accelerate a hotly disputed trend in the American economy by rewarding workers who sever formal relationships with their employers and become contractors. That’s because a provision in the tax law allows sole proprietors — along with owners of partnerships or other so-called pass-through entities — to deduct 20 percent of their revenue from their taxable income.
Source: Richard Mulvaney , New York Daily News
As the New Year brings us closer to a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME, many labor professionals are wringing their hands at what could be the biggest anti-union judicial pronouncement in 40 years
December 29, 2017
Source: Peter Waldman and Kartikay Mehrotra, Bloomberg
“Sanitation workers face some of the harshest and most dangerous conditions in American industry, and there’s no outcry because they’re largely low-paid immigrants hidden away on the graveyard shift,” says Deborah Berkowitz, senior fellow at NELP and a former OSHA chief of staff. “That’s the cost of American consumers wanting cheap protein and the meat and poultry industry demanding huge profits.”
Source: Emily Sullivan, NPR
As midnight strikes on New Year's Eve, many minimum wage workers will have an extra reason to celebrate: They'll be getting a raise.
December 28, 2017
Source: Kevin Drum, Mother Jones
So what’s responsible for the increase? Part of it is voluntary: as we’ve become healthier and longer-lived, some people just don’t want to retire. They like their jobs. The other part is involuntary: some workers can’t survive on Social Security and have to work to make ends meet.
Source: James Grimaldi and Paul Overberg, The Wall Street Journal
A significant number of fake comments appear among thousands criticizing a proposed federal rule meant to prevent conflicts of interest in retirement advice, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
December 20, 2017
Source: Cole Lauterbach, Illinois News Network
Employment lawyer Paula Brantner, senior adviser with the nonprofit Workplace Fairness, wouldn’t suggest a victim of harassment use the process lawmakers put in place to report misconduct, even in light of Madigan’s new law.
“This is not a process that I would recommend going through unless they had no other choice,” Brantner said.
Source: Irina Ivanova , CBS MoneyWatch
Bringing claims of harassment or other malfeasance against an employer just got a little harder because of a change in federal labor rules. The National Labor Relations Board last week reversed a two-year-old decision that made companies and franchisers jointly responsible for workers managed through temporary agencies and franchises. In 2015, the NLRB decided that, when an organization hires workers through a staffing agency or franchisee, both companies can be considered "joint employers."
Source: Susan Chira and Catrin Einhorn, The New York Times
Their story reveals the stubborn persistence of harassment in an industry once the exclusive preserve of men, where abuses can be especially brazen. For the Ford women, the harassment has endured even though they work for a multinational corporation with a professional human resources operation, even though they are members of one of the country’s most powerful unions, even though a federal agency and then a federal judge sided with them, and even after independent monitors policed the factory floors for several years.
December 19, 2017
Source: Benjamin Mueller , The New York Times
For employees of the Peninsula and other hotels, allegations point to the mistreatment women endure alone in suites all the time. There is no evidence Mr. Weinstein abused hotel workers. But employees say hotels too often put discretion and deference to powerful customers before the well-being of women who work there, a claim that is catching hold in an industry under mounting pressure to protect workers. Housekeepers in Chicago recently seized on the Weinstein allegations to celebrate passage of a City Council bill that will require hotels to provide them with panic buttons so they can summon help. Seattle has a similar measure, and New York City’s biggest hotel operators agreed in 2012 to provide unionized workers with panic buttons after a housekeeper there said the French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her; the charges against him were dismissed.
Source: Daniel Wiessner , Reuters
A U.S. labor agency on Friday made it tougher for workers to form so-called micro unions made up of small groups of a company’s employees, reversing an Obama-era decision that had been sharply criticized by companies. It was the fifth time this week that the five-member National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Republican majority, which has been in place since late September, upended a decision issued during the Obama administration that business groups said unfairly favored unions. Forming smaller bargaining units can be a key organizing strategy for unions, particularly when they lack support from a majority of an employer’s workforce. But business groups say that smaller bargaining units fracture workplaces.
December 18, 2017
Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times
The National Labor Relations Board on Thursday overturned a key Obama-era precedent that had given workers significant leverage in challenging companies like fast-food and hotel chains over labor practices. The ruling changes the standard for holding a company responsible for labor law violations that occur at another company, like a contractor or franchisee, with which it has a relationship. The doctrine also governs whether such a corporation would have to bargain with workers at a franchise if they unionized, or whether only the owners of the franchise would have to do so.
Source: Michelle Chen , The Nation
In a society where shopping is a national pastime, why is selling stuff such a dreadful job? Economic forecasters are warning that retail jobs are going extinct, citing chainstore shutdowns and mass layoffs across the country. Retail doom is actually far from inevitable. There’s still an ongoing demand for brick-and-mortar jobs, which, unlike factory jobs, can’t be shipped overseas. And that could make the industry a laboratory for redefining the service sector to provide sustainable livelihoods. Neither political nor private sector institutions will be moved without creative organizing from below, which is one area where the US labor movement is actually making some progress. US labor can also borrow tactics from European counterparts, especially by working together across borders to raise conditions. But worker-led campaigns like the UFCW’s OUR Walmart are not a formal union, and the initiative has been frustrated by flagging political momentum and a lack of organizing clout across the supply chain. Driving policy agendas may prove more fruitful: Jobs with Justice San Francisco pioneered local fair scheduling policies with the Retail Workers Bill of Rights.
December 15, 2017
Source: Stephen Whyno , AP
Leaders from the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball players associations helped unveil a universal declaration of player rights that is designed to establish a new approach to governing sports and protecting athletes. Among the 17 articles laid out in the declaration are rights to unionize and collectively bargain, express opinions freely and receive equal pay for equal work. The declaration was made Thursday by the World Players Association, which is affiliated with 100 organizations that represent 85,000 professional athletes.
Source: Michael Corkery, The New York Times
Instead of waiting two weeks between paychecks, Walmart workers can now use an app to access a portion of wages for hours they have already worked. But Walmart’s new service also highlights, albeit unwittingly, the financial struggles of the low-wage workers in the retail and service industries. Even as the economy strengthens, many workers in stores and restaurants are not earning enough to make ends meet.
December 14, 2017
Employers would pocket $5.8 billion of workers’ tips under Trump administration’s proposed ‘tip stealing’ rule
Source: Heidi Shierholz, David Cooper, Julia Wolfe, and Ben Zipperer , Economic Policy Institute
And although the bulk of tipped workers are in restaurants, tipped workers outside the restaurant industry—such as nail salon workers, casino dealers, barbers, and hairstylists—could also see their bosses start taking a cut from their tips. We estimate that under this rule, employers would pocket $5.8 billion in tips earned by tipped workers each year.
Source: The New York Times, The New York Times
As revelations of sexual harassment break, women have been discussing the fallout and how to move forward. Here, women from across the working world take on this complicated conversation.
December 13, 2017
Source: Todd Zwillich , WNYC
Last year, 180 million Americans got their healthcare from their jobs. While this may seem like a great employment perk, millions don't seek new opportunities because they're afraid to go without benefits. Employer-sponsored insurance is a system so familiar today, it may seem to many like the natural order of things. But it's actually a century-old invention designed to save U.S. hospitals. In the first two decades of the 20th century, there was a medical care revolution.
Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffPost
Three years ago, federal officials overhauled the way union elections proceed in the workplace, streamlining the process to give employers less time to pressure workers not to join. The reform was long sought by labor groups who hoped the changes could make it a little easier to unionize. But now, President Donald Trump has reshaped the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that oversees union elections. With a new conservative majority, the board is considering scrapping the worker-friendly reforms from the Obama years and bringing back the system that employers were fond of.
December 12, 2017
Source: Adam Liptak, The New York Times
The Supreme Court said on Monday that it would not hear an appeal in a case that could have resolved whether a federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against gay and lesbian workers. The case concerned Jameka Evans, who said a Georgia hospital discriminated against her because she is a lesbian. She sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex. In March, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled that Title VII’s reference to sex did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Source: Mark Joseph Stern , Slate
On Wednesday night, the Trump administration declared war on public sector unions. In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice reversed its position on the constitutionality of mandatory fees for public employees. The DOJ now believes that public sector unions may not charge these “fair share” fees, which support collective bargaining, to non-union members. It urged the court to strike down fair share fees as “compelled subsidization of speech” in violation of the First Amendment. Conservative politicians have long dreamed of imposing these “right-to-work” rules on the entire American public sector, and the Supreme Court’s conservative justices have prepared for this moment. In 2018, they’ll almost certainly answer the Trump administration’s prayers and permanently hobble U.S. unions.
December 11, 2017
Source: Michelle Chen , The Nation
Chicago hotel housekeepers will report to work with a new piece of gear in the coming months: not buckets and gloves, but a small electronic alarm, which they can sound if they encounter the occupational hazard that’s haunted them silently for years: a sexual attack.
Source: Jeanna Smialek and Jordyn Holman , Bloomberg
Black Americans have been gaining ground in the labor market this expansion, narrowing the gap with white workers to a historic low. Yet there are reasons to interpret that progress cautiously.
December 8, 2017
Source: Eric Morath, The Wall Street Journal
A long economic recovery and historically low unemployment pulled many Americans back into the labor force in recent years—and now there are few left on the sidelines.
Source: Jessica Testa, Buzzfeed
Reentry is difficult for anyone who’s spent time in prison. For women especially, life after incarceration isn’t just the uphill battle they’d been warned about as inmates. It’s a cliff.
December 7, 2017
Source: Annalisa Nash Fernandez , Quartz
Complaining about your boss and pay is a favorite pastime of everyone from assembly-line workers to corporate cubicle neighbors. But what if you work from home? Or drive an Uber? If you don’t even know who your fellow employees are, how can you commiserate with them?
Source: Michael R. Sisak and Yvonne Lee, AP
Women who say they were sexually harassed or mistreated by powerful men in television news have banded together to form a support network aimed at changing a newsroom culture they say has given men a free pass to misbehave for decades.
Source: Daniel Villarreal, Hornet
Most workplace flirtation — left there — isn’t sexual harassment, but only because it has to be “severe or pervasive.” But that’s just the legal standard, and we’re not going to change the culture of harassment unless we start before something is a legal problem. So dial down the charm and focus on interacting professionally about work matters — not flirting all day long.
December 6, 2017
Source: Reuters, Reuters
CVS Health's proposed purchase of Aetna will change the way many major U.S. corporations buy health coverage for employees and raise new questions over the cost of those benefits, benefit consultants said.
We Got Government Data On 20 Years Of Workplace Sexual Harassment Claims. These Charts Break It Down.
Source: Lam Thuy Vo, Buzzfeed
BuzzFeed News received a trove of data on every sexual harassment claim filed between fiscal years 1995 and 2016 with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces laws meant to protect workers from discrimination.
December 5, 2017
Source: Robin Young , WBUR
Workers' advocates and some state departments of labor are starting to pay attention to employees who work full or part time, but only after signing agreements that free their employers from keeping them safe. Here & Now's Robin Young talks with Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, about worker safety in the so-called gig economy.
Source: Reuters, Reuters
The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday proposed eliminating an Obama administration rule that allowed restaurant employees to keep their tips instead of being forced to share them with non-tipped workers, saying the rule had contributed to pay disparities between servers and other staff like cooks and dishwashers. Employers who pay the tipped minimum wage, which is lower than the standard minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, cannot pool tips and share them with non-tipped workers under federal wage law. The Obama administration rule, which was adopted in 2011, also banned the practice for businesses that pay the higher minimum wage. The ban on tip-pooling is the latest labor regulation that was seen as helping workers to be targeted by the Trump administration.
December 4, 2017
Source: Maria Lamagna, MarketWatch
Workplaces might do well to take ideas from college campuses and after-school programs by adding better lighting, cameras and security personnel , said Laura Palumbo, the communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a nonprofit based in Harrisburg, Penn. This, plus open plan offices, might deter workers from having sexually explicit or offensive conversations, said Paula Brantner, a senior adviser at Workplace Fairness, an employment law nonprofit.
Source: Ginia Bellafante, The New York Times
However much we’d like to believe that the patriarchy is toppling because Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer have been expunged from television, there is still a great distance to go before the many remnants hit the ground. There is a special resonance to the fact that New York City schoolteachers, most of them women, do not receive paid parental leave. They are forced to hoard sick days or rely on the good luck that they will give birth at the end of June. The low regard in which teachers are held has been an expression of collective misogyny for decades. Into the 1960s, teachers hid pregnancies as long as they could because the law mandated that they tell principals as soon as they discovered they were expecting and begin unpaid leave right away.
Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffPost
During the Barack Obama years, the National Labor Relations Board took a broad view of worker rights, expanding protections for employees who try to join a union or come together to improve their working conditions. Under the Trump administration, those rights are being reined in to help out employers. In a memo dated Friday and obtained by HuffPost, the NLRB’s new general counsel, Peter B. Robb, orders board officials around the country to consult his office on cases that involve precedents set on worker rights during the last eight years. The move effectively strips away the discretion of regional board officers to pursue cases against employers based upon Obama-era rulings and policies.
December 1, 2017
Source: Ben Penn, Bloomberg
Management-side attorney John Ring is going through a final White House background check to fill an upcoming Republican vacancy on the National Labor Relations Board, sources briefed on the process tell Bloomberg Law. If Ring clears the White House vetting, he would be tapped to fill the seat of Chairman Phil Miscimarra (R), whose term expires Dec. 16. It’s not clear whether Ring, a partner in Morgan Lewis’s Washington office, would also be named chairman of the five-member board. That role could instead go to one of other two GOP lawyers already on the board. Ring represents businesses in an array of industries who are facing union representation issues and unfair labor practice charges before the NLRB, according to his firm’s online bio.
Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation
According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), both forced arbitration and NDAs have in many workplaces become a standard tactic to preempt workers from taking legal action or disclosing sexual-harassment and -assault charges. These agreements force workers to sign away their rights in exchange for a job, by making them agree to settle future disputes outside the courts through an opaque negotiation process controlled by management and lawyers—effectively sentencing women to silence before they ever step into a courtroom.
November 30, 2017
Source: Alicia Garza, Buzzfeed
Thanks to #MeToo creator Tarana Burke, we now have a language to talk about the consequences of what happens when powerful people abuse their influence to diminish the dignity of others. The dam has broken — people are telling their stories, naming their abusers, and demanding change. As we support survivors, we cannot forget that abuse also thrives in low-wage sectors like domestic work, a fast-growing field that will take up a growing share of the workforce as our population ages. These workers, who are disproportionately women of color and immigrant women, are highly vulnerable to sexual harassment and sexual violence, working in private homes where even the minimal social restraints of white-collar office culture are not present.
Source: Janell Ross, The Washington Post
As the nation faces the frequency of sexual harassment and assault at work, both experts who study the problem and the agency that enforces laws against it say that it’s women at the bottom of the labor market who suffer sexual harassment most often and are least likely to see anything like justice. Their experiences also suggest that the lines between predators and complicit cover artists don’t fall neatly along gender lines — often, the stories include women who overlooked sexual assaults or even facilitated harassment of female workers with less power to fight it.
November 29, 2017
Source: Julia Carrie Wong , The Guardian
The group’s work – which has included establishing guidelines for “healthy nail salons” – was recognized in November 2016 when the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of environmental justice awarded it a $120,000 grant over two years to pilot a micro-loan program.
Source: Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, FiveThirtyEight
Speier is right to point to workplace environment as a key predictor for harassment; research shows that Congress has many of the ingredients for a work environment where sexual harassment is tolerated or even encouraged.
November 28, 2017
Source: Jeff Spross , The Week
So what about all the female workers being harassed by men with power over them, but not enough power to be a juicy target for broad public outrage? For those women, a more old-fashioned solution may be in order: unions and labor organizing. The intensely hierarchical nature of American capitalism extends up and down the wealth and income ladder. Indeed, it gets worse for the lower rungs: poor and working-class Americans put up with far fewer benefits, far less leave, lower wages, more chaotic schedules, more safety violations, and a host of other indignities. These workers have to get by in an economic environment where they're treated like disposable widgets. Needless to say, being treated like a disposable widget extends to sexual predation — by customers and co-workers as well as by supervisors.
Source: Harriet Agerholm , The Independent
Amazon workers are so exhausted by long hours and relentless targets they are falling asleep on their feet, according to a new investigation. Employees reportedly had timed toilet breaks and some were made to do compulsory overtime, meaning some were working a 55-hour week ahead of the Christmas period. Pictures taken by an undercover reporter captured workers asleep standing up as they reportedly had to process a parcel every 30 seconds.
November 27, 2017
Source: Jim Puzzanghera and Don Lee, The Los Angeles Times
Gary Cohn, the top White House economic advisor, was onstage making the Trump administration’s case that a huge cut in corporate taxes would trigger a surge of business investments. Then came an off-the-cuff question to business leaders listening to Cohn at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting last week: How many will increase investments if the Republican tax plan is enacted?
Source: Emily Peck , HuffPost
To the droves of women speaking up about sexual harassment and discrimination, the Trump administration’s message is clear: Shut up. Behind the scenes, and mostly through executive orders, the White House is making it harder for women to report sexual harassment and fight sex discrimination. The clearest example came in March. It received little coverage at the time. President Donald Trump reversed an Obama-era order that forbid federal contractors from keeping secret sexual harassment and discrimination cases. The 2014 rule prohibited these companies, which employ about 26 million people, from forcing workers to resolve complaints through arbitration, an increasingly common method businesses use to settle disputes out of the public eye.
November 24, 2017
Source: Russell Hubbard, Omaha World-Herald
“Companies have definitely insured against the risks of harassment lawsuits,” said Paula Brantner, an attorney for the Maryland-based employee advocacy group Workplace Fairness. “You can in some ways say they have put a price tag on it.”
Source: Danielle Paquette, The Washington Post
The casting couch. The holiday party. The black car. The setting for sexual harassment in the news and popular culture lately is Hollywood or Silicon Valley or Capitol Hill - but researchers say women who work in restaurants and clothing stores tend to encounter more predatory behavior than those in glitzier professions. "It's a story people haven't focused on enough," said Jocelyn Frye, who studies women's economic security at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank in Washington. "Low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment."
Source: Steven Greenhouse , The Los Angeles Times
When you go shopping this holiday season, you’ll no doubt come across smiling cashiers and perky sales clerks. But behind the holiday cheer, many retail workers have very un-merry tales to tell about the craziness of their work schedules. I’ve heard many tales of woe over the last five years — of unpredictable, ever-changing, stress-inducing work schedules — as I’ve researched labor conditions in retail and elsewhere in the service sector. Whether at big-box stores, department stores or specialty stores, many workers complain that their managers have ramped up the scheduling chaos as retail competition has grown ever fiercer, partly because Amazon is eroding the sales of brick-and-mortar retail.
November 23, 2017
Source: The Economist , The Economist
The one-percenters are now gobbling up more of the pie in America—that much is well known. This trend, though disconcerting, is not unique to the modern era. A new study, by Timothy Kohler of Washington State University and 17 others, finds that inequality may well have been rising for several thousand years, at least in some parts of the world. The scholars examined 63 archaeological sites and estimated the levels of wealth inequality in the societies whose remains were dug up, by studying the distributions of house sizes.
Source: Dante Disparte , HuffPost
Uber is truly a fascinating company. The 8-year-old firm is at once the source of strategy and business model admiration, as well as the source of a growing volley of corporate scandals and negative market reactions. The firm has wrestled with a barrage of setbacks culminating most recently with the ouster of its crestfallen co-founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick. There may yet be more trouble ahead. This time, however, for Uber’s drivers, who may face a decline in demand for their side hustling, as Uber recently announced the purchase of a fleet of 24,000 autonomous vehicles from Volvo.
November 22, 2017
Source: Dominic Holden, Buzzfeed
She took her case to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which handles federal civil rights claims in the workplace. The commission concluded that Tudor had a valid claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the law does not address transgender discrimination directly, courts have increasingly interpreted the law’s ban on sex discrimination to cover discrimination against transgender people as a form of illegal sex-stereotyping.
US Congress used $17 million of taxpayers money to settle discrimination suits with its own employees
Source: Annalisa Merelli, Quartz
Over the past 20 years, the fund paid over $17.2 million to settle workplace complaints, according to a document released (pdf, p.2) Nov. 15 by OOC executive director Susan Tsui Grundmann. Grundmann wrote in a letter that she had decided to share a report of yearly payments made by the fund due to “the volume of recent inquiries regarding payment of awards and settlements.”
November 21, 2017
Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffPost
Since the allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein were first revealed last month, more and more women have stepped forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault at work. Their bravery in speaking out has toppled powerful men’s careers in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Washington. But much less attention has been paid to the rampant harassment in blue-collar workplaces, particularly the hotel industry. Many of the stories center on powerful men who preyed on underlings or colleagues in hotel rooms. If famous A-list actresses must deal with unwanted advances in the privacy of a hotel suite, imagine the vulnerability of an immigrant woman cleaning the room alone, for close to minimum wage, plus tips.
Source: Graham Lee Brewer , NPR
About a third of Native Americans say they have experienced discrimination in the workplace when seeking jobs, or when getting promotions or earning equal pay, according to a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Slightly more said they were on the receiving end of slurs or negative comments based on race. In the NPR poll, almost two-thirds of Native Americans living in majority Native areas say the availability of local jobs was worse than other places. About the same amount also say Native Americans are paid less than white people for equal work. The Cherokees are trying to change that.
November 20, 2017
Source: Saru Jayaraman , Buzzfeed
As the job that introduces so many young women to the world of work — more than a third of women say their first job was in a restaurant — the industry doesn’t just normalize sexual harassment as a workplace reality. Its unique pay system actively coerces young women to quietly accept mistreatment as a condition of getting paid. So many professionals who waited tables in their youth – including many high-profile women now sharing their stories of harassment and assault – first experienced harassment as a necessary evil of working life during their restaurant days. This can be traced in large part to the pay system, where servers rely on tips from customers just to earn minimum wage. In 43 US states, employers are allowed to pay restaurant workers a wage far below the standard state or federal minimum, provided they make the rest up in tips.
Source: Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Stacy Cowley and Natalie Kitroeff , The New York Times
Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work.
November 17, 2017
Source: Lolade Fadulu , The Atlantic
Successful apprenticeship programs aren’t impossible. The apprenticeship model thrives in European countries such as Germany, partly because wages vary less across industries than they do in the U.S. In the U.S., apprenticeship programs are difficult to institutionalize because employees are more likely than their European counterparts to leave a job for a different one that offers better wages. Investing thousands of dollars in someone who may leave for a better wage opportunity is a risk few employers are willing to take.
Source: Yuki Noguchi, NPR
As more alleged victims of sexual harassment have come forward in recent weeks, it's clear that they've found strength in numbers. But workers' rights advocates fear that cases before the Supreme Court could end up limiting employees' abilities to bring collective action on harassment and other issues in the workplace. All three cases before the Supreme Court have to do with whether a worker has a fundamental right to face arbitration with other workers — or if that right can be waived when workers sign employment agreements, which are increasingly common.
November 16, 2017
Source: Lora Kolodny, CNBC
Shares of Tesla closed down 2.1 percent on Tuesday afternoon following news of a civil rights lawsuit against the automakers. The proposed class-action suit alleges a racist culture at Tesla, unsafe factory conditions, and failure on the part of the company, including CEO Elon Musk personally, to prevent or investigate race-based harassment and discrimination. Filed on behalf of plaintiff Marcus Vaughn, an ex-Tesla worker, and more than 100 African Americans who worked at Tesla's Fremont factory between November 2016 and November 2017, the suit claims that Tesla allowed factory workers to use racist epithets, failed to take corrective action against harassers and fired black workers who complained.
Source: Heidi M. Przybyla , USA TODAY
Phones are ringing off the hooks in law offices throughout the nation's capital. And lawyers can thank Harvey Weinstein for that. Inquiries to law firms have been rising since harassment and assault allegations about the Hollywood film executive were first reported in early October, according to three Washington, D.C., attorneys who specialize in employment law and sexual harassment. Rising interest in pursuing harassment charges comes after a decade in which the number of allegations had been on steady decline, according to federal figures. The number of sexual harassment complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016 was 6,758, 15% lower than in 2010. That small total that suggests that cases are vastly under-reported, according to the EEOC, which takes in approximately 90,000 complaints a year for all workforce violations. The number might start to rise.
November 15, 2017
Source: Leslie Albrecht, MarketWatch
A few states, including California, have laws granting discrimination protections to independent contractors. Those laws may have helped Lidia, because she was working at a company in Los Angeles, but apparently her college’s career counselor was unaware of them. Washington state and Pennsylvania also protect independent contractors from discrimination. But in most other states, independent contractors are stuck if they want to file a legal complaint about harassment. It’s always best to consult a local attorney for the most up-to-date information on harassment laws in your state, said Paula Brantner, senior adviser with the workers’ rights nonprofit WorkPlace Fairness.
Source: Melissa Stegman, The American Prospect
It’s tough to imagine a more lopsided relationship than an individual and a big financial institution. Or more lopsided results: The CFPB study found that arbitrators side with the financial company more than nine times out of ten.
Source: Daniel Victor, The New York Times
It’s clear on which side doctors come down: They say workers with the flu or a cold should use sick days far more often than they do. Though millions of Americans don’t get paid time off when they’re sick, those who do have the option often don’t take it.
November 14, 2017
Source: Glenn Bain, New York Daily News
The new regulations stop short of prohibiting what’s known as on-call scheduling but require most hourly workers to receive an extra two hours of minimum wage pay for assignments received without two weeks' notice. They also require employers to pay at least four hours for shifts that are cancelled within 72 hours of their start time.
Source: Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg
Reports from Florida during Irma found that despite an evacuation order from the governor, some employers pressured workers into showing up for work. In a survey of 134 people, more than half of respondents said their employers threatened to fire or discipline them for not showing up to work during Hurricane Irma, according to a study by workers’ rights organization Central Florida Jobs with Justice. A librarian said he was told to man the building as a shelter or risk losing his job; a janitor who worked in a nursing home said she was threatened with her job unless she came in the night before the hurricane.
November 13, 2017
Source: Justin Phillips, The San Francisco Chronicle
Many in the restaurant industry describe a culture that has not only failed to eradicate the pervasiveness of sexual harassment but has fostered it. The issue has plagued all types of restaurants, and it’s been embedded for decades. Because of several unique factors — a patriarchal kitchen hierarchy, a transient workforce, an insular community and lack of formal employment standards — the problem is endemic to the industry.
Source: Bryce Covert, Rewire
In early 2013, Natasha Velez says she suffered a fractured index finger after her boyfriend at the time choked her. Even with her finger in a splint, Velez still showed up for her next scheduled shift at a Chipotle in New York City. But at her follow-up appointment, the doctors told her that she had to stay away from work for an additional couple of weeks. When she returned, she says she handed her manager a copy of her protection order that prevented her abuser from coming to the workplace, but her manager still responded by firing her because she had “too many issues outside of work.” This week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law that could have aided Velez had it been in place four years ago. While the city passed landmark paid sick leave legislation in 2013, becoming the largest city at the time with such a policy, it didn’t explicitly include people like Velez who may need paid time away from work to deal with violent situations. That will now change: Starting in May of next year, the new legislation will expand the city’s law to include safe time, or time off to recover from domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking, or sex trafficking.
November 10, 2017
Source: Jason Grant, New York Law Journal
A Manhattan federal judge has denied Bloomberg LP’s motion to stay a class action lawsuit as the business media giant lobbies the U.S. Court of Appeals for permission to appeal orders certifying two classes in the case.
Source: Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post
Did Briskman deserve losing her job for using her finger to exercise her freedom of speech? Also, should an employer fire a worker over a social media posting?
November 9, 2017
Source: Robert Rubin, The New York Times
Too many people lack access to entry-level jobs with good wages, especially in industries like manufacturing, where activity is actually near a high. The reason is that technology has enabled this work to be done by far fewer employees — or it’s not being done at all, because workers don’t have the specialized skills certain jobs demand.
Source: Steven Greenhouse, The Guardian
As labor unions across much of the world struggle to increase their membership, how do workers get their employers to raise wages and assure safe conditions? That’s the question some of the world’s most innovative worker groups are asking. And they’re hopeful they have found a solution. Several of those groups gathered last week to launch an ambitious effort to improve the lives of millions of workers in the corporate supply chains. Meeting at the Ford Foundation to kick off the new effort, these and other worker advocacy groups maintained that corporate self-regulation was not doing nearly enough to assure safety and adequate conditions for the tens of millions of workers in apparel, electronics and agricultural supply chains worldwide. They are pinning their hopes on a new effort that aims to have workers play a central role in developing workplace codes of conduct and in overseeing enforcement of these codes. Their new effort is called the Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network.
November 8, 2017
Source: Kellie Ell, USA TODAY
As the holidays draw closer and holiday hiring is in full swing, industries across the board are feeling the unintended side effects of a falling unemployment rate— now at a 17-year low of 4.1%. But retail, food services and delivery, industries that are an essential part of the holiday grind, are among the most vulnerable.
Source: Dave Jamieson, HuffPost
When billionaire Joe Ricketts on Thursday shut down the Gothamist and DNAInfo news sites he owns, his company didn’t hesitate to identify one culprit: the staff’s successful unionization vote last week. Under U.S. labor law, it’s illegal to tell workers you will shut down operations if they join a union. But it’s not illegal to actually shut down the business once they unionize. Although Ricketts could not have legally laid people off in response to their vote, he was well within his rights to zap the entire company and turn the lights off in part or entirely because of the union. In a 1965 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that, even if threats of layoffs are illegal, a company couldn’t be forced to rehire or shell out backpay to workers at a plant it had closed expressly because workers there had unionized. Theoretically, an owner like Ricketts could still run into trouble if it emerges that he closed the company in order to chill union activity at other properties of his. But Ricketts could certainly chill union activity at sites he has nothing to do with.
November 7, 2017
Source: Ryan Cooper, The Week
The journalism world was shocked and appalled last Thursday, when billionaire Joe Ricketts abruptly shut down a slew of media properties he owned — DNAInfo, Gothamist, DCist, Chicagoist, and a few other sites — throwing 115 people out of work. Worse still, all the archives were immediately removed from the internet, with old links redirecting instead to a letter by Ricketts explaining his decision (though reportedly the archives will come back at some future point). The move comes only one week after Gothamist and DNAInfo voted to unionize, and it is widely assumed that the sites were shuttered as punishment for the vote. It's a perfect example of the capital strike — how wealthy business owners will destroy jobs and production when it suits their politics.
Source: Matt Egan, CNN
More former Wells Fargo employees allege they were fired after they tried to blow the whistle on shady activity at the bank. That's according to a new filing by Wells Fargo (WFC), which disclosed claims of "retaliation" by ex-employees. Wells Fargo has been at the center of a number of scandals over the past year. This filing addresses two in particular -- when the bank forced thousands of customers into car insurance they didn't need and when it wrongly charged homebuyers to lock in mortgage rates.
Source: Dana Barrett, Biz 1190 WAFS
Senior Advisor, Paula Brantner joins Dana Barrett to talk about when and if the law requires employers to give workers time off to vote, and whether your political speech and activity are protected in your workplace.
November 6, 2017
Source: Trent Gillies, CNBC
If you're looking for a job, the current market is the best it has been in years. Last week, the government reported that the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in October, with more than six million open jobs available right now. According to the Labor Department, that's near the all-time high in July of this year when there were 6.2 million job openings. At the low point of the Great Recession in mid 2009, there were just 2.2 million jobs in July 2009. In an economy that appears to be gathering momentum, exactly why are some workers being left on the sidelines?
Source: Andy Newman and John Leland , The New York Times
A week ago, reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union. On Thursday, they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down. For DNAinfo and Gothamist, the staff’s vote to join the Writers Guild of America East was just part of the decision to close the company. The decision puts 115 people out of work, both at the New York operations that unionized and at those in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington that did not.
November 3, 2017
Source: Rachael Bade and Elana Schor, POLITICO
The sexual harassment scandals involving major Hollywood and media figures are focusing new attention on Congress’ procedures, which critics say are woefully inadequate for deterring bad behavior in an institution filled with powerful men and young aides trying to advance their careers. Each congressional office operates as its own small, tightly controlled fiefdom with its own rules and procedures, which makes it that much harder to come forward.
Source: Joann Lublin, The Wall Street Journal
Remote employees perceive greater workplace harm from these problems than on-site employees, including wasted time, more stress, lower productivity and lower morale, the survey found.
November 2, 2017
Source: Noam Scheiber, The New York Times
In the recent wave of reports of workplace sexual harassment, a recurring theme stands out: the willingness of companies’ supposed overseers to ignore credible allegations in order to retain a perceived star. The pattern is so well established that an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission task force, in a report on sexual harassment last year, gave those who benefit from it a name: “superstar” harassers.
Source: Matthew Yglesias, Vox
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is challenging federal antitrust officials to explain what — if anything — they are doing about the impact of corporate concentration on labor markets. Antitrust law normally comes up in the context of monopoly power, the prospect that a company will control such a large share of output that it can raise prices or reduce quality. But it also applies to situations of monopsony power, in which market concentration offers undue leverage over workers or upstream suppliers. His newfound interest in the matter is part of a broader trend to a heightened interest in antitrust matters across a number of fronts — highlighting a potential opportunity to press anti-business and pro-worker themes.
Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish
Confidentiality provisions or clauses within settlement agreements can also mandate an employee’s silence. In the case of a serial violator, NDAs can function as “a way to prevent (employees) from being witnesses for each other, bolstering each others’ cases, or making the information public and shaming the violator and the company,” attorney Paula Brantner, a senior adviser to the nonprofit Workplace Fairness, told Moneyish.
November 1, 2017
Source: Tammy La Gorce, The New York Times
Tipping norms, or the lack of them, may be especially unfair to housekeepers, who arguably do more for guests than park their cars or push the cart containing their dinners.