Today’s News and Commentary — August 24, 2016

The Washington Post reported on the backlash from yesterday’s decision by the National Labor Relations Board to allow graduate students to unionize.  The decision has been criticized by both universities and lawmakers, who believe that extending collective bargaining rights to graduate students may undermine higher education.  Peter McDonough, vice president and general counsel at the American Council on Education, said the “misguided decision… would decrease opportunities for campus jobs that help students, particularly those from low- and middle-income families, finance their education and drive up administrative costs.”  Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation or Teachers, however, has argued that graduate students are essential employees within higher education and that “without their labor, classes wouldn’t get taught, exams wouldn’t get graded and office hours wouldn’t be held.”

A federal court in Michigan recently dismissed an EEOC claim that a transgender worker at a funeral home had a right to dress in women’s attire, reports JD Supra.  In defending the claim, the company raised the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, arguing that the home is a Christian ministry, and the worker’s request would substantially burden religious freedom.  In its ruling, the court suggested that the EEOC may have a duty to accommodate a private employer’s religious beliefs within its application of Title VII. Read the full opinion here.

The New York Times reported today that Donald Trump has shifted his tone with respect to immigration, calling for a “fair” plan after months of calling for building a wall along the border of Mexico and deporting those who came to the United States illegally.  Trump’s most recent speech on immigration, scheduled to take place this Thursday, has been cancelled without explanation.