News & Commentary

April 5, 2017

Maia Usui

Maia Usui is a student at Harvard Law School.

Title VII protects LGBT workers from discrimination, a federal appeals court ruled for the first time yesterday.  The plaintiff in the case, Kimberly Hively, alleged that she had been fired from her teaching job because she is a lesbian.  In an 8-3 decision, the full Seventh Circuit held that “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination” prohibited under Title VII.  The decision — which LGBT advocates have called a “gamechanger” — makes the Seventh Circuit the highest federal court to reach this conclusion.  It comes only weeks after the Eleventh Circuit arrived at a contrary ruling, setting up a circuit split for potential Supreme Court review.  The New York Times has more.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blasted Washington for losing sight of workers’ interests, in a public address on Tuesday.  Trumka criticized the Trump administration for not fulfilling its campaign-trail promises — he called for more drastic changes to NAFTA than the President’s initial plans suggest — and encouraged workers to bargain with their employers for better wages and better working conditions, “whether [they] have a union or not.”  NPR reports.

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day, as noted on the blog.  This year it fell on April 4, meaning that women had to work an extra three months to catch up with their male counterparts — only a slight improvement over last year, when Equal Pay Day was on April 12.  The Christian Science Monitor looks at the numbers, finding that far too little progress has been made on closing the gender wage gap in the last decade, and that the gap is even larger for women of color.

T-Mobile must shut down its internal employee complaint program, an NLRB administrative judge ruled yesterday.  The judge found that “T-Voice” — an internal program that allows company-selected representatives to hear employee grievances — is a labor organization under T-Mobile’s control, making it a violation of the NLRA.  The ruling is a win for the Communications Workers of America, which has pursued unionization efforts at T-Mobile for over a decade.  Bloomberg reports.

And finally, in case you missed it, Andrew Puzder — President Trump’s failed nominee for Labor Secretary — has a new editorial in The Wall Street Journal this week, arguing that the minimum wage won’t help workers because businesses will turn to automated labor instead.

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