News & Commentary

September 12, 2016

Emily Miller

Emily Miller is a student at Harvard Law School.

Inmates from correctional facilities across several states including Florida, South Carolina, and Texas went on strike Friday over wages and working conditions in prison, reports the Guardian.  The strikes, organized in part by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (working under the Industrial Workers of the World) took place on the 45th anniversary of the riots at New York’s Attica prison.  At least two facilities in Florida have gone on lockdown in response.  According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, prisoners at federal facilities make between 12 and 40 cents an hour, while state prisons in Texas and Arkansas do not compensate inmates for their work.

International labor groups have ramped up pressure against the Bangladesh government after a fire caused by a boiler explosion at a factory near Dhaka killed 30 people on Saturday.  The garment industry accounts for nearly 80% of Bangladeshi exports, with infrastructure and safety regulations lagging behind the rapidly growing industry according to the Wall Street Journal.  The government of Bangladesh has been working with the International Labour Organization and other groups since a factory collapse in 2013 killed more than 1,000 garment workers.  On Saturday, the Worker’s Rights Consortium, the International Labour Rights Forum, the Clean Clothes Campaign, and the Maquila Solidarity Network released a joint statement, saying “The boiler explosion and resulting fire and structural collapse at the Tampaco Foils factory in Bangladesh demonstrates the ongoing dangers to industrial workers in that country and the failure of global corporations to take meaningful steps to protect the safety of workers in their supply chains.”

Just days after the EEOC released its most recent Guidance on retaliation under federal employment statutes, the Second Circuit issued a ruling which expanded employer liability for the retaliatory acts of its employees.  JD Supra reports that the new Guidance outlines the types of worker activity which are protected, what constitutes an adverse employment action, and the separate “interference” provision under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  After the guidance was issued, the Second Circuit ruled in Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Inc. that employers may be liable if they negligently adopt an employee’s retaliatory animus against a coworker and that coworker suffers an adverse employment action.  According to the EEOC, retaliation is now the most common basis for complaints, accounting for 45% of complaints filed.  A fact sheet outlining the highlights of the Guidance can be found here.


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