News & Commentary

April 5, 2019

Alisha Jarwala

Alisha Jarwala is a student at Harvard Law School and a member of the Labor and Employment Lab.

ICE conducted its largest workplace raid in over a decade this week, arresting over 280 employees of CVE Technology Group in a suburb of Dallas, Texas.  The arrested individuals are predominantly women from countries including El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela.  Families were left waiting for several hours for their loved ones to be released and have been seeking legal help from Texas nonprofits, including Raices and United We Dream Texas.  Katrina W. Berger, who leads investigations for Homeland Security in Dallas, stated that the arrests were part of a broader criminal investigation into CVE Technology, and that businesses that “knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses . . . They take jobs away from U.S. citizens.”

(But do they?  As we noted yesterday, The New York Times found that employers in the building and agriculture industries are concerned about labor shortages and the impact that restrictive immigration policy will have on their workforces.)

The BuzzFeed News Union said on Twitter that BuzzFeed executives refused to show up for a scheduled meeting on Thursday.  From the union: “This meeting was a crucial opportunity to make progress in agreeing on a bargaining unit, after more than 7 weeks of frustratingly slow communication with BuzzFeed.  Instead, they abandoned today’s negotiations.  BuzzFeed management is engaging in clear union-busting.”  BuzzFeed News staff formed a union with NewsGuild of New York in February, after 15% of BuzzFeed staff were laid off at the start of the year and not paid earned paid time off.  Other newsroom unions have responded with criticism for Buzzfeed executives’ behavior.  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in, reminding Buzzfeed executives that “New York City is a union town.”

Quartz reviewed more than 90 pages of emails from female employees at Microsoft, which detail dozens of women’s frustrations with discrimination and sexual harassment at work.  The email chain includes allegations of sexist comments, name-calling, and dismissive responses from HR, including telling one woman who reported being propositioned to “get over it.”  An employee on the email chain wrote, “This thread has pulled the scab off a festering wound.”  Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s head of HR, responded to the email chain, stating, “It is very painful to hear these stories and to know that anyone is facing such behavior at Microsoft . . . I will personally look into the situation with my team.”

Finally, a new study from Northeastern University, USC, and the advocacy group Upturn has found that Facebook’s advertising algorithms deliver ads for employment in ways that affirm gender- and race-based stereotypes.  The authors found that despite requesting that their job ads reach a diverse audience, “Facebook delivered our ads for jobs in the lumber industry to an audience that was 72% white and 90% men, supermarket cashier positions to an audience of 85% women, and jobs with taxi companies to a 75% black audience even though the target audience we specified was identical for all ads.”  The study concludes that policymakers must “carefully consider the role of the ad delivery optimization run by ad platforms themselves” when trying to prevent discrimination in digital advertising.  This news comes at a bad time for Facebook—the company is currently facing charges from HUD for violating the Fair Housing Act through its advertising platform.  The complaint in the HUD case alleges that advertisers can dictate who sees their housing ads on Facebook based on unlawful criteria including race, sex, and disability.

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