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Our Programs In the News

Articles on workplace-related issues from newspapers and Internet news sources around the country.

June 18, 2018

Starbucks Discriminates Against Older Workers, According To Former Employees

Source: Angelina Chapin , HuffPost

In the past four years, Andrea has applied for 29 jobs within Starbucks, in areas like human resources and recruiting, that would allow her to spend less time on her feet. She’s been rejected from all of them, and only once landed an interview, even though she’s been with the company for 15 years, was voted manager of the quarter for her district in 2016 and earned a degree through the Starbucks scholarship program at Arizona State University.

Trump’s attacks on federal employee unions, pay and benefits draw bipartisan rebukes

Source: Joe Davidson , The Washington Post

President Trump’s aggressive efforts to upend the long-standing federal labor-management landscape by undermining government unions increasingly are the target of bipartisan rebukes. His workplace policies, including restrictive executive orders and proposed retirement cuts, are being hit politically and legally, from Republicans and Democrats and by multiple union lawsuits. The latest salvo in the broad-based rejection of Trump’s performance as boss in chief is a letter from two dozen House Democratic leaders asking him to rescind three executive orders that appear designed “to completely eradicate unions from the federal workplace.”

June 15, 2018

Spurred by #MeToo, a Harassment Task Force Reconvenes

Source: Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks , The New York Times

Ms. Nalls was one of several legal experts, entrepreneurs, nonprofit workers and labor advocates who spoke Monday at a meeting held in Washington by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In light of the #MeToo movement, which has shaken Hollywood, politics and other industries, the commission reconvened a task force it had created two years ago as part of a broad investigation into workplace harassment.

The Supreme Court case that could kneecap public sector unions, explained

Source: Dylan Matthews , Vox.com

2018 has generally been a good year for labor activists working in the public sector. A wave of teachers strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado has led to pay raises even in red states with Republican governors where teachers can’t collectively bargain. The strikes seem to suggest that public sector labor organizing, and labor unions, could be revitalized.

June 14, 2018

Cheesecake Factory held liable in $4M wage theft case

Source: The Associated Press , The Associated Press

California regulators have found the Cheesecake Factory and two of its contractors owe about $4 million to hundreds of janitorial workers in a wage theft case. The state Labor Commissioner’s Office said Monday that the 559 workers were underpaid at eight locations in Orange and San Diego counties. The office says the employees generally worked eight-hour shifts beginning at midnight but weren’t released until Cheesecake Factory kitchen managers conducted walkthroughs, which frequently led to more, unpaid work.

A minimum-wage worker can’t afford a 2-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S.

Source: Tracy Jan , The Washington Post

The economy’s booming. Some states have raised minimum wages. But even with recent wage growth for the lowest-paid workers, there is still nowhere in the country where someone working a full-time minimum wage job could afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

June 13, 2018

Tesla Cutting About 9% of Global Workforce

Source: Tim Higgins, The Wall Street Journal

Tesla Inc. on Tuesday said it will cut about 9% of its workforce in an effort to deliver its first profit during a make-or-break period of building a mass-market electric car.

If the Robots Come for Our Jobs, What Should the Government Do?

Source: Neil Irwin, The New York Times

Some of the potential answers are big, bold ideas that have gained traction in particular ideological circles. A universal basic income — the idea that the government simply give each citizen enough money every month to support basic needs — has fans among both free-market libertarians and socialists.

June 12, 2018

Teens face a gender pay gap, too. Here’s how to help them navigate it.

Source: Joanna Nesbit, The Washington Post

In the informal sector, parents had different expectations of female and male babysitters, including expecting girls to do more household tasks and spend more unpaid time in before-and-after conversations with parents. They also paid boys more.

A brief (and depressing) history of LGBT workers’ rights

Source: Lydia Dishman, FastCompany

Today, memorials, events, and pride parades happen all month long in an effort to recognize the impact that LGBT individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. However, in the absence of sweeping federal legislation (and several recent legislative measures that aim to curtail rights), LGBT workers are still under threat on the job.

June 11, 2018

Roseanne’s hard lesson: The First Amendment protects you, not your job

Source: Maria LaMagna, MarketWatch

Managers could take issue with social media posts and potentially discipline an employee, she said. “Right now, a lot of people are speaking out about things they didn’t speak out about before. Generally in terms of our political debate, that’s a good thing,” Brantner said. “But if you’re doing it at work, there are risks.”

Wage theft settlements by top US companies amount to billions

Source: Valerie Bolden-Barrett , HR Dive

Large U.S. corporations have paid out billions in recent years to resolve claims that they denied workers overtime pay, forced them to work off the clock and engaged in other activities that shortchange them, according to a co-authored report by activist group Good Jobs First and Jobs With Justice Education Fund, a nonprofit.

Musk Fails to Quell Safety Doubts With Head-Scratching Data

Source: Josh Eidelson and Dana Hull, Bloomberg

Tesla Inc. would need to release more information than Elon Musk gave shareholders to set the record straight on the electric-car maker’s work-safety record, according to former occupational health officials who worked under the Obama administration. The rate of injuries per person at Tesla is 6 percent below industry average so far this year, after being “a little bit above” average last year, the chief executive officer said during the company’s annual meeting Tuesday. The carmaker aims to lower the rate to half the auto industry average, he said, without saying by when or giving more specifics. It’s difficult to assess Musk’s comments without more detail.

June 8, 2018

McDonald’s Plans Corporate Job Cuts, ‘Eliminating Layers’

Source: Julie Jargon , The Wall Street Journal

McDonald’s Corp., battered by price wars and struggling to revive its U.S. burger business, said it will cut layers of managers as part of a half-billion-dollar plan to shrink administrative expenses by the end of next year. The latest reorganization comes as the fast-food chain has been working to turn around its crucial U.S. division for more than three years.

California cites Bay Area restaurants for $10 million wage theft

Source: Natasha Mascarenhas, SF Gate

Showing an aggressive approach to the multibillion-dollar problem of wage theft in California, state investigators have cited seven Bay Area restaurants for more than $10 million in stolen wages.

June 7, 2018

4.3 million Texan workers don’t get paid sick leave, report finds

Source: Allie Morris , Austin Bureau

An estimated 4.3 million Texans who make up roughly 40 percent of the state’s workforce don't have access to paid sick days, raising the likelihood they show up to the job ill or let sick children go to school, according to a new report from an advocacy group. Hispanic, low-income and part-time workers in Texas are the least likely to be able to accrue paid sick leave, according to the report by the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

America may soon face its biggest labor strike in decades

Source: Chris Isidore , CNNMoney

The Teamsters and UPS could be heading toward the nation's largest strike in decades. On Tuesday, the union announced that members voted more than 90% in favor of going on strike, if a deal is not reached before the current labor contract expires on August 1.

June 6, 2018

Report shows big banks shell out large sums in wage-theft disputes

Source: Aaron Elstein , Crain's New York Business

People who stock shelves, bus restaurant tables or pitch in on commercial-waste-collection routes are more vulnerable to getting stiffed on wages, but it's an issue among higher-paid workers as well. A study released today by Good Jobs First, an advocacy group, showed that banks, insurance firms and drugmakers have shelled out tens of millions of dollars to settle such disputes.

When Working in Disney World Means Being Stuck Living in a Cheap Motel

Source: Michael Sainato , Vice

The dozens of motels lining a 15-mile stretch of US Highway 192 just outside of Disney World have a secret inside: For the past two decades, they’ve increasingly served as home for many Disney World employees. Sometimes workers stay in the motels temporarily while they find permanent housing, others are forced by poverty and other circumstances to live in them for months or even years.

June 5, 2018

Fast-food workers demand pay increase: Are unions the answer?

Source: Frank Witsil , Detroit Free Press

Jamika Ruffin is a part-time Burger King cashier trying to make ends meet on about $9.25 an hour. "The money they pay me is not worth what you have to put up with when it comes down to these customers," said the single, 25-year-old Highland Park mother of two, adding that after taxes and child care expenses there's not much left. "It needs to go up more."

Former Houston Texans cheerleaders sue claiming harassment and unfair pay

Source: Ahiza Garcia, CNNMoney

Five former NFL cheerleaders are suing the Houston Texans for alleged harassment and unfair pay practices. "We were harassed, we were bullied and we were body-shamed for $7.25 an hour," said former cheerleader Ainsley Parish, who is among the five who are suing.

June 4, 2018

Workplace Navigator: I Work at a Nonprofit and I Want My Money

Source: Karla Miller, Enterprise

Nonprofit organizations that depend on external funding sources often contend with unpredictable income fluctuations, according to Paula Brantner, senior adviser at the nonprofit Workplace Fairness...But whatever the reasons, floating paychecks is unacceptable from multiple angles...
your nonprofit employer’s board of directors has a fiduciary duty to ensure the organization is managing funds properly and not committing labor violations. Many boards have a whistleblower policy to protect workers who report such issues, Brantner said.

Hey, D.C.: Reject the misleading signs and raise tipped workers’ wages

Source: Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg , The Washington Post

If you’ve dined out in the District lately, you may have run into a sign urging local diners to “Save Our Tips” and “Vote No on Initiative 77.” This campaign is partially supported by the other NRA: the National Restaurant Association, a powerful, deep-pocketed lobbying organization that opposes higher minimum wages. Their goal is to convince voters that there’s a sinister plot afoot to deprive workers of their earnings. Well, there is a deceptive plot afoot. It comes from the NRA and others opposed to Initiative 77, which would raise the pay of low-wage, tipped workers. Here are the facts of which voters should be aware.

Union activity ramps up ahead of Supreme Court decision on dues tied to collective bargaining

Source: Kris Maher , The Wall Street Journal

As organized labor braces for a Supreme Court ruling that could make it easy for public-sector workers to stop paying some dues, unions across the country are reaching out to hundreds of thousands of members to persuade them to keep paying dues.

June 1, 2018

Trump Moves to Curb Federal Employee Labor Protections

Source: Kalena Thomhave , The American Prospect

If an administration wanted to destroy the power of labor unions, it might first attack unions that are subject to executive orders. President Trump headed in that direction late last Friday, when he signed three executive orders that place new restrictions on federal employee labor unions.

Should D.C. restaurants pay minimum wage? The ballot measure debate gets heated.

Source: Fenit Nirappil , The Washington Post

Initiative 77 would phase out the lower “tipped wage” that allows restaurants and bars to pay those workers a low hourly rate as long as customer tips reach minimum wage. If it passes, the current $3.33-an-hour minimum wage for tipped workers would steadily rise to $15 by 2026.

May 31, 2018

“What did you make at your last job?”: why the salary question is bad for women and people of color

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell , Vox.com

Asking applicants how much money they earned at previous jobs has long been a routine part of the hiring process. But this seemingly harmless question is a key culprit in the persistent gender wage gap in the United States, according to a growing number of civil rights groups and legal experts.

Lowe’s Is Making Managers Sign Arbitration Agreements If They Want Their Bonuses

Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post

Lowe’s has a message for its store managers: Sign this or else. Salaried managers and assistant managers at the big-box home improvement retailer are being required to enter binding arbitration agreements under the threat of losing their valuable bonuses, according to

May 30, 2018

Trump Moves to Ease the Firing of Federal Workers

Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times

Seizing on a longtime ambition of many Republicans, President Trump on Friday overhauled rules affecting at least two million federal workers, making it easier to fire them and rolling back the workplace role of their unions.

Unions, anticipating Janus case Supreme Court loss, jump-start recruiting drives

Source: Lynn Sweet , Chicago Sun-Times

Long anticipating an adverse outcome, the public sector unions in Illinois and other states have been ramping up drives to retain members and recruit new ones.

May 29, 2018

These U.S. Workers Are Being Paid Like It’s the 1980s

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg

Thanks to a web of loopholes and limits, the federal government has been green-lighting hourly pay of just $7.25 for some construction workers laboring on taxpayer-funded projects, despite decades-old laws that promise them the “prevailing wage.”

Half of Walmart's workforce are part-time workers: labor group

Source: Nandita Bose , Reuters

Part-time workers account for half of Walmart Inc’s (WMT.N) workforce, up from 20 percent in 2005, according to a labor group report on Friday that examined the company’s increased shift away from more expensive full-time employees.

May 28, 2018

Times Up: How to Handle Sexual Harassment at Work

Source: Senée Mobley, Jacksonville Magazine

Paula Brantner, a senior advisor at the non-profit organization, Workplace Fairness, says, "Even before something happens it's good to familiarize yourself with the companies policies" on sexual harassment. She offers the following steps that employees can take to address sexual harassment in the workplace...

Senate passes harassment bill as civil rights groups slam it

Source: Rachael Bade and Elana Schor , POLITICO

The Senate on Thursday easily passed a bipartisan deal to overhaul Capitol Hill’s sexual harassment system even as civil rights and women’s groups joined House members in knocking the bill as too easy on lawmakers accused of inappropriate workplace behavior.

Here is the federal labor complaint the United Auto Workers just filed against Tesla

Source: Robert Ferris , CNBC

The United Auto Workers say Tesla CEO Elon Musk allegedly broke national labor laws by tweeting. A complaint dated Wednesday and filed with the National Labor Relations Board says Musk violated the National Labor Relations Act when he sent out a tweet the union alleges threatened to take away stock options from any employees attempting to unionize.

May 25, 2018

There Is Power in a Union

Source: Mike Konczal , The Nation

But a groundbreaking new paper, “Unions and Inequality Over the Twentieth Century: New Evidence From Survey Data,” written by the economists Henry Farber, Dan Herbst, Ilyana Kuziemko, and Suresh Naidu, proposes a different engine for that broad prosperity: unions.

Unpacking Elon Musk’s daylong Twitter rant on unions and US history

Source: Michael J. Coren , Quartz

One of Musk’s tweets showing off the SpaceX crew capsule in a vacuum chamber led, somehow, two days later, to the Tesla CEO invoking the American Revolution in taking on critics portraying his company as intent on crushing workers’ rights. Let’s unpack this thread a bit.

May 24, 2018

Should political campaigns be unionized? This one is trying.

Source: Evan McMorris-Santoro, VICE

The Campaign Workers Guild is a new effort to "unionize" the people who make campaigns run on the ground. It contracts to provide workplace perks like paid sick days, reimbursements and harassment reporting procedures — office basics that are, nonetheless, virtually unheard of in normal campaign jobs.

Severely injured worker sues Tesla: ‘I’m not who I used to be’

Source: Will Evans, Reveal

Son Nguyen was working as a contractor at the Fremont, California, factory on June 5, 2017, when an explosion called an arc flash threw him back 15 to 20 feet and engulfed him in flames. Nguyen’s lawsuit says Tesla should have cut electricity to the equipment he was working on, but refused to because the company didn’t want to temporarily stop production.

May 23, 2018

Cheating workers out of wages is easier than ever

Source: Elizabeth C. Tippett , The Conversation

Two features alone, “rounding” and “automatic break deductions,” could result in the loss of up to 44 minutes a day – or US$1,382 a year at the federal minimum wage. Timekeeping software was the focus of a study I co-authored last year documenting how it could be used to facilitate wage theft. But it left a lingering question: Did companies actually use these features to shortchange workers?

Neil Gorsuch Just Demolished Labor Rights

Source: Mark Joseph Stern , Slate

The Supreme Court issued a 5–4 decision Monday in Epic Systems v. Lewis allowing employers to deprive their workers of their right to sue collectively. Its ruling, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, blasts a massive hole through post–New Deal labor law, hobbling employees’ ability to recover in court when their employers underpay them. It is difficult to overstate how devastating Epic Systems is to labor rights in America—and how far Gorsuch strays from federal law in order to implement his preferred economic policy.

May 22, 2018

McDonald’s workers block headquarters and chant, 'We can see your greedy side'

Source: Danielle Paquette, The Washington Post

About 150 cooks and cashiers blocked the entrance Monday to the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago, protesting what they call unfairly low pay at one of the world's largest fast-food chains. The protest was organized by Fight for $15, a campaign funded by the Service Employees International Union that has been pressuring McDonald’s and other employers to lift wages since 2012. “We are cooks and cashiers who work behind the company’s counters, grills and fryers across the country,” the protesters said in a letter they delivered to the company ahead of its annual shareholder meeting Thursday. “And we are calling on McDonald’s to use its massive power and wealth to lift up people of color and our communities rather than keep us locked in poverty.”

Supreme Court Decision Delivers Blow To Workers' Rights

Source: Nina Totenberg , NPR

In a case involving the rights of tens of millions of private-sector employees, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, delivered a major blow to workers, ruling for the first time that workers may not band together to challenge violations of federal labor laws.

May 21, 2018

Civil Discourse - Talking politics at your dealership--or on social media--could cost your business employees and customers.

Source: Brittany Bungert, Iowa Auto Dealer

“A lot of people will say ‘It’s my First Amendment right to
say this opinion,’ and in most situations, it’s really not,” said
Paula Brantner of Workplace Fairness, a non-profit organization
that advocates for employee rights. “That’s not what the First
Amendment is about, and your employer typically has the
ability to shut those conversations down up to discipline and
termination if the employer considers them disruptive to the
workplace or, honestly, if they disagree.”

Uber Should ‘Do the Right Thing’ for All of Its Workers

Source: E. Tammy Kim , The New York Times

On Tuesday, the ride-hailing company Uber announced that it would no longer require its employees, drivers or passengers to submit to arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault.

Labor Department Sues Home Care Companies

Source: Chris Opfer , Bloomberg Law

The Labor Department filed a handful of lawsuits against home care providers for wage-and-hour violations, signaling that the DOL isn’t likely to soon revisit an Obama era rule that entitles domestic service workers to minimum wages and overtime pay.

May 18, 2018

Is Burgerville Union Success a Bellwether for Fast Food?

Source: Jaclyn Diaz , Bloomberg Law

Three weeks after a landmark vote that created the country’s first union for fast-food workers, a second group of Burgerville employees decided to join an affiliate of the Industrial Workers of the World. The win at the chain’s Gladstone, Ore., location adds about 20 members to the Burgerville Workers Union, but organizers hope that small number belies a growing movement in the industry.

Men like Bill O’Reilly get to make a comeback. Women who speak up about harassment lose their jobs.

Source: Anna North , Vox

Talk of a comeback for O’Reilly lays bare one of the crucial inequalities that has yet to be fully addressed as part of the #MeToo movement: A powerful man can cost his company millions as a result of harassment allegations and still land himself a new, highly visible job. But women, too often, are silenced, booted from their industry, and blackballed.

May 17, 2018

Let’s deliver the mail, not myths

Source: Mark Dimondstein , The Boston Globe

This is a good opportunity to underscore some important facts regarding the Postal Service, a national treasure belonging to all the people of the United States. Tax dollars do not fund Postal Service operations. Instead, it operates on earned revenue from postage and other products and services. As a self-funding independent agency, the Postal Service provides universal service at uniform and reasonable rates, delivering to 157 million addresses six (and sometimes seven) days a week, no matter who customers are or where they live.

Uber filed a motion to compel alleged sexual assault victims to settle some claims under arbitration

Source: Johana Bhuiyan , Recode

Uber announced today that it would no longer force plaintiffs alleging sexual assault to arbitrate their litigation against the company, but it still plans to enforce arbitration in other cases — which includes preventing riders from filing class action claims.

May 15, 2018

A New View of Antitrust Law That Favors Workers

Source: Cass R. Sunstein, Bloomberg

The most ambitious antitrust essay in recent years, and potentially the most important, comes from Chicago’s Eric Posner, along with Microsoft’s E. Glen Weyl (long associated with Chicago as well) and Columbia’s Suresh Naidu. Their central argument is that in the United States, many labor markets are not competitive. Employers have a ton of market power. They use it to suppress wages, often harming low-income workers in particular.

Healthcare, freelanced: Where will gig economy workers get coverage?

Source: Chris Taylor, Reuters

More Americans than ever are falling into that second category, a scrappy mix of the self-employed, solo entrepreneurs, freelancers and contract workers. More than 57 million Americans, or 36 percent of the workforce, freelance, according to a recent study by the Freelancers Union.

May 14, 2018

What Makes Retail Workers Uniquely Vulnerable to Sexual Harassment

Source: Nandita Raghuram, Racked

Paula Brantner, a Senior Advisor at Workplace Fairness — an organization that promotes the fair treatment of workers — says similarly that typically harassers are not peers. Instead, they tend to be older, more advanced, or a manager. That can pose a problem because they control the schedule, how many shifts someone is working, or if they are scheduled to work when people tend to spend more money, she says. “They literally can decide whether or not you make enough money to live on.”

This may make workers feel as if they must endure the harassment because “they’re dealing with a person who has that much control over their financial stability and well being,” says Brantner.

Wells Fargo owes $97 million to California workers

Source: Matt Egan , CNN

A federal judge has ordered Wells Fargo to pay $97.3 million in damages to mortgage workers in California who weren't paid enough for their breaks. The judgment, handed down late Tuesday, comes after the court ruled in January that Wells Fargo (WFC) violated California's tough labor laws. The damages in the class action lawsuit are almost quadruple what Wells Fargo argued it should owe. The ruling applies to Wells Fargo mortgage consultants and bankers who worked at the bank in California between March 2013 and August 2017.

Get Your Mom a Flexible Workplace and Paid Leave for Mother's Day

Source: Alicia Adamczyk , Lifehacker

Among the many sacrifices parents make when they have children, one of the most pressing for working families is the financial hit a mother’s lifetime earnings take. A working paper published in January from Princeton University found that “the arrival of children creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20 percent in the long run, driven in roughly equal proportions by labor force participation, hours of work, and wage rates.” (While this study used data from Denmark, the country’s wage gap is “nearly the same size” as America’s.) The wage gap exists, and a significant portion of it can be credited to motherhood.

May 11, 2018

The Trump administration wants to give teens more chances to work with dangerous machinery

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell , Vox

The new rule would expand the agency’s current exemption, which lets teens do some hazardous work only as part of an apprenticeship or student learning program — usually no longer than an hour a day. The new rule would remove the time limit, according to Bloomberg. The idea is to give teens more training, and businesses more flexibility, in apprenticeships. But critics say it will lead to more teen deaths and injuries at work, which generally had been declining.

At the VA, a Law Meant to Discipline Executives is Being Used to Fire Low-Level Workers

Source: Jasper Craven , The Nation

Instead, the law appears to have been used primarily to discipline low-level employees, according to VA data—and it has resulted in a weakening of due process for those recommended for removal, as well as the curtailing of their right to appeal, effectively superseding worker protections secured by unions in collective-bargaining agreements.

May 10, 2018

When Black Men Are Harassed

Source: Adia Harvey Wingfield, Slate

But as black men, some of them also faced unique forms of sexual harassment that heavily affected the ways they navigated professional work environments.

How a Supreme Court Decision This Spring Could Cut Union Rolls by 726,000

Source: Eric Morath, The Wall Street Journal

Labor unions could lose hundreds of thousands of members if the Supreme Court determines this spring that public employees cannot be required to pay union dues, a new study finds.

May 9, 2018

Alleged Sexual Predators Don’t Need Letters Of Support

Source: Angelina Chapin, Huffington Post

When influential players in a workplace openly side with the accused, it becomes difficult for other employees with relevant information or other harassment allegations to come forward.

“’You think, ‘Wow, 65 of my peers are going to hold that against me or think I’m lying,’” said Brantner. “It really sends a strong message about the futility of speaking out.”

University Of California Workers Start 3-Day Strike

Source: Associated Press , Associated Press

Thousands of custodians, security guards, gardeners and other service workers at University of California campuses have started a three-day walkout to address gender pay inequalities and demand higher wages. Strikers gathered at sunrise Monday on the 10 campuses throughout the state, wearing green t-shirts and carrying signs that call for “equality, fairness, respect.”

In corporate America, too many bosses tell employees who to vote for

Source: Ganesh Sitaraman, The Guardian

When corporations monitor whether employees engage in political activities (and Hertel-Fernandez says that some do), employees are also more likely to respond to managers’ wishes.

May 8, 2018

Treating Workers Fairly at Rent the Runway

Source: Jennifer Y. Hyman , The New York Times

I am ashamed to say that until recently I was part of the majority: I am the chief executive of a company that gave different benefits to different groups of employees.

End of the gig economy? Don’t read too much into a California court ruling

Source: Elizabeth C. Tippett , PBS

Gig economy companies, like Uber and Lyft, overwhelmingly classify their workers as independent contractors. As a result, they don’t comply with basic employment laws, like minimum wage and workers’ compensation insurance. If courts decide these workers are misclassified and actually meet the legal test for employee status, gig companies can be on the hook for back pay or unpaid insurance premiums, as well as penalties for past noncompliance. So does this mark a turning point for the gig economy? Maybe not.

May 7, 2018

Why Fair Scheduling Laws Will Be The New Minimum Wage Battle

Source: Eillie Anzilotti , Fast Company

For states like Connecticut, which in recent years renewed its efforts to attract new businesses to the state, there’s been pushback to the legislation. Corporate lobbyists maintain that paying workers better or advancing just scheduling practices will cause the state to lose its competitive edge in attracting companies, says Zack Campbell, media and outreach director for CT Working Families.

How a California Court Ruling Might Affect Minor League Players

Source: David Waldstein , New York Times

On the surface, the plight of delivery drivers doesn’t seem to relate to minor league ball players; they are, after all, already considered salaried employees and not independent contractors. But in their ruling, the judges defined “work” according to the so-called “ABC” test, a broad standard that could also be applied to the players and enable them to be paid back for spring training, off-season workouts and overtime.

May 4, 2018

A loophole in federal law allows companies to pay disabled workers $1 an hour

Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell , Vox

Rock River Valley Self Help Enterprises, an Illinois nonprofit, billed itself as a vocational training program for people with disabilities. But it essentially operated as a subcontractor for local factories, providing menial tasks to workers with developmental disabilities.

Saying #MeToo Is Harder for Low-Wage Workers

Source: Lia Russell , The American Prospect

Restaurant workers, home-care aides, and domestic workers and others in the service industry often put up with abusive patrons and managers—but unlike Hollywood actors, they have far fewer employment opportunities to available to them.

May 3, 2018

How a Common Interview Question Fuels the Gender Pay Gap (and How to Stop It)

Source: Claire Cain Miller , The New York Times

Aileen Rizo was training math teachers in the public schools in Fresno, Calif., when she discovered that her male colleagues with comparable jobs were being paid significantly more. She was told there was a justifiable reason: Employees’ pay was based on their salaries at previous jobs, and she had been paid less than they had earlier in their careers. Ms. Rizo, who is now running for the California State Assembly, sued. In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in her favor, saying that prior salary could not be used to justify a wage gap between male and female employees. It’s the latest sign that this has become the policy of choice for shrinking the gender pay gap.

Uber, Lyft and other gig jobs may face a shakeup under new California work rules

Source: Andrew Khouri and Tracey Lien , Los Angeles Times

The rise of independent contracting has delivered benefits for some, such as greater flexibility for workers and lower costs for employers. But it also ensnared some people in low-wage jobs without benefits, working schedules that can change daily. Now, following a state Supreme Court ruling Monday, businesses across California could be forced to reclassify swaths of their workforces as employees, with profound effects on workers and companies. By toughening requirements for when a worker is actually an employee, the California Supreme Court won praise from labor advocates who say the move will put more dollars in the pockets of previously misclassified workers.

May 2, 2018

What to do if you’re forced to toe the company line on a sexual harassment case

Source: Meera Jagannathan, Moneyish

Employment attorney Paula Brantner, a senior adviser to the nonprofit Workplace Fairness, argued that the power dynamics of a work environment mean that such a letter “just can’t be truly voluntary.” “You’re always part of a power structure and a supervision structure, so you always have to worry about your loyalties and what you need to do to protect your job,” she told Moneyish.

California Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gig Workers

Source: Bryan Menegus , Gizmodo

In a unanimous decision yesterday, California’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of independent contractors seeking employee status from a last-mile delivery service in a case that could have wide ramifications for Uber, Lyft, Amazon, Instacart, and other companies buoyed by the sweat of the gig economy. First filed in April of 2005, the suit alleged that drivers for Dynamex had been misclassified as independent contractors.

May Day protesters demand better rights for workers

Source: Sheena McKenzie and Sarah Tilotta , CNN

Demonstrators across the globe took to the streets on Tuesday to demand better working conditions, as part of rallies marking International Workers' Day. Held on May 1 each year -- known as May Day -- the rallies date back to the 1880s. At the time, labor movements around the world were campaigning for safeguards such as eight-hour workdays and trade unions.

May 1, 2018

A New York company must pay $5.1 million for demanding religious practices from employees

Source: Gene Marks, The Washington Post

According to the original lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2014, United Health Programs employees were being forced to follow an internal “Harnessing Happiness” system started by an aunt of the owners in 2007 that required them to engage in activities such as prayers, religious workshops and “spiritual cleansing rituals.”

How Wall Street Bought Toys ‘R’ Us And Left 30,000 People Without Jobs

Source: Leticia Miranda, Buzzfeed News

As other private equity–backed companies like Toys ‘R’ Us fail to pay down debt in a rapidly changing retail environment, experts are predicting that more minimum-wage retail workers may soon find themselves without jobs.

April 30, 2018

Sex Harassment Complaints in New York Fall Into an Enforcement Maze

Source: Vivian Wang, The New York Times

There is no single investigative body or agency charged with hearing complaints of sexual harassment or abuse by state officials. Nor is there a uniform statewide definition of sexual harassment.

High Hopes, Hazy Role for Labor Department’s Second-in-Command

Source: Ben Penn, Bloomberg Law

Employers and conservatives are familiar with and optimistic about Patrick Pizzella, who was sworn in as deputy labor secretary April 17. Pizzella endeared himself to management lawyers while a senior DOL official in the George W. Bush administration and during his more recent term as a member of the panel that settles federal workforce labor disputes.

April 27, 2018

Arizona teachers want more than a raise. They want public schools funded again.

Source: Alvin Chang , Vox

Arizona teachers are planning a walkout on Thursday if the governor and state legislature don’t increase teacher pay, restore education funding, and promise not to implement more tax cuts. They would join a wave of teacher groups striking across the nation, from West Virginia to Oklahoma to Kentucky.

Amazon and Tesla Facilities Named Among the Most Dangerous Workplaces in America

Source: Melanie Ehrenkranz , Gizmodo

On Wednesday, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) released a report singling out 12 companies that most put their workers at risk, and Amazon and Tesla both made the list. “Every day there are workers who don’t come home to their families because of tragedies we know could have been prevented,” Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH, said in a statement. “This year, we’ll identify several companies who received specific warnings about safety hazards and failed to correct them. Workers paid the ultimate price for these failures.”

April 26, 2018

Estée Lauder is now paying employees $10,000 to adopt and giving parents 20 weeks of paid leave

Source: Leanna Garfield , Business Insider

Starting May 1, Estée Lauder employees in the US who choose to have, foster, or adopt a child will get 20 weeks of paid leave— regardless of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. And if they conceive of that child themselves, they will receive an additional six to eight weeks of paid time off. The new offerings are part of the company's expanded family-benefits program. Employees at Estée Lauder can now also seek up to $10,000 for adoption fees. Both hourly and salaried employees are eligible, as long as they work at least 30 hours per week and have been with the company at least three months.

How Big Is the Minimum-Wage Workforce in Your State?

Source: Mike Maciag , Governing

The last time the federal minimum wage increased, Barack Obama was only a few months into his first term as president and the country was mired in the depths of the Great Recession. Nearly nine years later, a small segment of the workforce is still earning $7.25 an hour or less. The latest Labor Department estimates indicate that just over 1.8 million hourly workers were paid at or below the federal minimum last year. While that's a small part of the overall workforce -- a mere 2.3 percent of hourly workers -- it makes up a larger portion in some states.

April 25, 2018

What Caused the Decline of Unions in America?

Source: Dwyer Gunn , Pacific Standard

The second half of the 20th century brought big, bold changes to the economic status quo in countries all over the world. Globalization and the invention of new technologies meant that companies in developed nations could produce goods for much less money in far-away factories or at home with the help of sophisticated machinery. These forces undoubtedly explain part of the decline in union density and influence in the United States; fewer workers employed in the union-dominated manufacturing sector meant fewer union workers.

The Way We Work Is Killing Us

Source: Brigid Schulte, Slate

In the United States, workers work among the longest, most extreme, and most irregular hours; have no guarantee to paid sick days, paid vacation, or paid family leave; and pay more for health insurance, yet are sicker and more stressed out than workers in other advanced economies.

April 24, 2018

NFL Cheerleaders: Minimum Wage for a Job Where You Don't Even Get to Pick Your Own Hair Color

Source: Suzanne Lucas , Inc.

Can you imagine a job where you have strict rules on what you can wear, what your hair color is, how much you weigh, and with whom you can speak? And with that job comes a minimum wage paycheck? And that women work very hard to get this job? That would describe an NFL Cheerleader, according to an interview at The Daily with Former New Orleans Saints' "Saintsation" cheerleader, Bailey Davis. Davis was fired for an Instagram post where she wore lingerie. Now, admittedly, it's not a whole lot of clothes, but it's actually more clothing than a lot of the uniforms Davis wore while dancing. It's kind of hard to stomach the hypocrisy.

Public Servants Are Losing Their Foothold in the Middle Class

Source: Patricia Cohen and Robert Gebeloff, The New York Times

In recent years, though, the ranks of state and local employees have languished even as the populations they serve have grown. They now account for the smallest share of the American civilian work force since 1967.

April 23, 2018

Another Safety Probe Hits Tesla After Subcontractor Breaks Jaw

Source: Dana Hull and Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

Safety agencies are resource-constrained, so Cal/OSHA’s decision to open the second inspection this week was significant, said Deborah Berkowitz, a former chief of staff for the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

How the Loss of Union Power Has Hurt American Manufacturing

Source: Louis Uchitelle, The New York Times

But the reality is that when organized labor dug in its heels — as it did regularly in the United States until late in the 20th century — manufacturing companies thought twice about shutting a factory and transferring production to another country.

April 20, 2018

Trump is right to want to help workers hurt by trade. But he’s doing it wrong.

Source: Heather Boushey and Todd N. Tucker , Vox

President Donald Trump’s threats to levy sweeping trade tariffs on China and other countries have provoked near-universal condemnation, from Democrats as well as Republicans. These critics say tariffs will raise prices and invite foreign countries’ retaliation while doing little or nothing to bring back the glory days of bountiful middle-class manufacturing jobs. They have a point. But these objections have been a little too knee-jerk and unreflective.

The Teacher Strikes Show That Workers Are Really, Finally, Fed Up

Source: Eillie Anzilotti , Fast Company

First there was West Virginia, where teachers in all 55 counties went on strike for nine days. Now, there’s Oklahoma, where thousands have walked out. And Kentucky. There are rumblings of a teacher strike in Arizona. The strikes share many commonalities: Dissatisfaction over low salaries and constricted benefits have united teachers and public employees, who took to social media channels like Facebook to galvanize and coordinate walkouts to call for raises and improved benefits.

April 19, 2018

The Restaurant Industry Ran A Private Poll On the Minimum Wage. It Did Not Go Well For Them.

Source: Lisa Graves and Zaid Jilani , The Intercept

One of the nation’s most powerful anti-minimum wage lobbying groups tapped a longtime Republican pollster to survey the public about a range of issues impacting the industry. A significant chunk of the survey focused on attitudes toward the minimum wage — and many members of the powerful lobby group aren’t going to like the results. The poll — which was presented on a slide deck obtained by The Intercept and Documented — found that seven in 10 Americans want to see the minimum wage raised even if it means that they’d have to pay more for meals. It also found that the industry’s various talking points against raising the wage are mostly falling flat with the general public.

White House Said to Freeze Labor Board Funding

Source: Hassan A. Kanu , Bloomberg Law

The Office of Management and Budget won’t let the National Labor Relations Board spend money allotted to the agency by Congress because the White House wants to take some of it back, sources familiar with the situation tell Bloomberg Law. The move comes as NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb has cited looming budget cuts to justify controversial proposals to overhaul the labor board and shrink its field office foot print. Robb, who Trump appointed as the board’s general counsel last year, is considering stripping the board’s regional directors of some of their authority and revamping board investigations to speed the process. Sources said the cash freeze won’t force any drastic changes by NLRB leadership to make ends meet. It shows, however, that the Trump administration believes there’s some fat that could be trimmed at the labor board.

April 18, 2018

Senate Bill to Curtail Labor Rights on Tribal Land Falls Short

Source: Noam Scheiber , The New York Times

Organized labor managed an increasingly rare feat on Monday — a political victory — when its allies turned back a Senate measure aimed at rolling back labor rights on tribal lands. The legislation, called the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, would have exempted enterprises owned and operated by Native American tribes from federal labor standards, even for employees who were not tribal citizens.

Tesla says its factory is safer. But it left injuries off the books

Source: Will Evans and Alyssa Jeong Perry , Reveal

An investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that Tesla has failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company’s injury numbers look better than they actually are.

April 17, 2018

Long days and second jobs: How teachers get by

Source: Tim Talley, Melissa Daniels, Michael Melia and John Raby , Associated Press

Hundreds of thousands of American schoolteachers work second jobs to boost their income. They speak of missing time with family, struggles to complete lesson plans and nagging doubts over whether it’s worth the sacrifices to stay in their profession.

NYC will require sexual harassment training for workers

Source: Jackie Wattles and Julia Carpenter , CNNMoney

The largest city in America will soon require employers to put their workers through annual training aimed at preventing sexual harassment.

April 16, 2018

Amazon patents device to track workers’ hands

Source: Ally Marotti, Detroit News

Paula Brantner, senior adviser at employee rights organization Workplace Fairness, said technology is pushing boundaries in the workplace and employees have few rights to deny it.

“Everybody wants those Amazon jobs,” Brantner said. “If you don’t want to wear the wristband, someone else will.”

Giving new moms paid leave is essential. But so is helping them return to work

Source: Kathryn Vasel , CNNMoney

Even though the US remains the only developed nation that does not mandate some sort of paid leave to new mothers, companies have increasingly been taking matters into their own hands. They're also adding other benefits like gradual return to work programs, lactation rooms and more flexible schedules.

With Pickets and Lawsuits, Unions and Developers Go to War

Source: Charles Bagli , The New York Times

Anti-union ads are showing up in the subways and in the newspapers targeting “union boss Gary LaBarbera.” In the courts, the two sides have traded lawsuits and complaints claiming corruption and unfair labor practices. This month, in the most visible skirmish yet, thousands of union lathers, electricians, laborers, ironworkers and carpenters from work sites across Manhattan poured into the intersection of 40th Street and Seventh Avenue near Times Square for a rally against the city’s largest developer, Related Companies.

April 13, 2018

Unions brace for big changes under Republican-led U.S. labor board

Source: Daniel Wiessner , Reuters

As Republicans take control of the U.S. agency that enforces federal labor law, unions are bracing for decisions that could make it harder for them to solicit support and boost their ranks by limiting their ability to contact workers.

Tesla Workers Claim Racial Bias and Abuse at Electric Car Factory

Source: Josh Eidelson , Bloomberg

A federal trial is scheduled to start in 2019. Whether it gets to trial or not, the process threatens to bring unwanted scrutiny and unwelcome disclosures about Tesla’s culture, and the treatment of sub-contracted staff who play key roles in the attempt to meet Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s ambitious production goals.

April 12, 2018

Women Can't Have Prior Salaries Used Against Them, Court Says In Equal Pay Case

Source: Bill Chappell , NPR

Employers can't pay women less than men just because they made less at a previous job, a federal appeals court has ruled. The continuing gender pay gap is "an embarrassing reality of our economy," the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its opinion. The court said a woman's prior salary, whether considered on its own or along with other factors, can't be used to justify paying a female employee less than her male counterpart. To do so perpetuates discrimination, the court's majority opinion said. Citing studies that show American women lose some $840 billion annually because of the wage gap, the court wrote, "If money talks, the message to women costs more than 'just' billions: Women are told they are not worth as much as men."

In Historic Move At Labor-Skeptic 'Chicago Tribune', Newsroom Pushes To Form Union

Source: David Folkenflik , NPR

One of the nation's oldest and most prestigious regional newspapers, The Chicago Tribune, could soon have a unionized staff. On Wednesday morning, journalists from its newsroom informed management that they are preparing to organize and that they have collected signatures from dozens of colleagues.

April 11, 2018

Women Can't Have Prior Salaries Used Against Them, Court Says In Equal Pay Case

Source: Bill Chappell, NPR

Employers can't pay women less than men just because they made less at a previous job, a federal appeals court has ruled. The continuing gender pay gap is "an embarrassing reality of our economy," the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its opinion.

Pro Cheerleaders Say Groping and Sexual Harassment Are Part of the Job

Source: Juliet Macur and John Branch, The New York Times

But they quickly learn that performing at sporting events is only a small part of their job description. They are also required to fulfill what often is the unsavory side of the job: interacting with fans at games and other promotional events, where groping and sexual harassment are common.

April 10, 2018

Women Harassed at Uber May Finally Get a Payday. But How Much?

Source: Peter Blumberg, Bloomberg

Like the drivers’ case in Los Angeles, Sagafi’s complaint was brought under a California law that gives employees the right to step into the shoes of the state labor secretary to bring enforcement actions over labor code violations. He said workers bringing harassment claims would ordinarily be required under their contracts to resolve disputes through arbitration. But complaints based on the state’s Private Attorneys General Act can’t be forced into arbitration, he added.

Men account for nearly 1 in 5 complaints of workplace sexual harassment with the EEOC

Source: Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post

Some male celebrities, including former NFL player Terry Crews, have come out as survivors of sexual misconduct. But overall, few men have spoken out about their day-to-day experiences of sexual harassment at work, though surveys and other data show it is not uncommon for them.

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