Today’s News & Commentary — August 10, 2017

On Wednesday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders filed a lawsuit against President Trump and other government officials in charge of implementing Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. The five “Jane Doe” service members have nearly 60 years of combined service in different military branches. The lawsuit touches on the potential consequences of such a ban on the employees’ benefits. Jane Doe 4, who has served in the Air Force for nearly 20 years, fears that the ban will result in her being discharged before she can reach the critical 20-year mark – leading to a substantial decrease in retirement payment.


CNBC’s The Profit, takes a look at five businesses hoping to succeed in California’s newly minted marijuana market. California passed prop 64 legalizing recreational marijuana last November. “By 2026, California’s marijuana market is expected to be valued at around $6 billion; will generate around $1 billion in taxes; and create over 100,000 jobs.”


The responses to the controversial memo by a former googler continue. Over at Fortune, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki writes a very personal essay in which she responds to her daughter’s question: “Mom, is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership?” Wojicicki responds, in part, that:

Time and again, I’ve faced the slights that come with that question. I’ve had my abilities and commitment to my job questioned. I’ve been left out of key industry events and social gatherings. I’ve had meetings with external leaders where they primarily addressed the more junior male colleagues. I’ve had my comments frequently interrupted and my ideas ignored until they were rephrased by men. No matter how often this all happened, it still hurt.

Wojcicki was aGoogle’s 16th employee, and this is not the first time she has written a personal essay to highlight the industry’s issues with recruiting and keeping women in tech and leadership roles. In March, Wojcicki wrote an essay for Vanity Fair titled “How to Break Up the Silicon Valley Boys’ Club” after Susan Fowler released her essay about her experience at Uber. While the Department of Labor has been investigating whether Google has discriminated against women in the workplace, the law firm of Altshuler Berzon LLP and James M. Finberg are advertising to find women for a potential class action.


The Washington Post also uses the Google memo to remind readers that we generally do not have free speech rights at work. “Many people assume that you have First Amendment protections, but the First Amendment only protects you from government restrictions of speech,” said Debra Katz, a Washington-based lawyer who often represents employees in discrimination cases. “The cases are legion where employees get fired for saying things that their employer disagrees with.”


And The New York Times argues that Google’s choice to fire James Damore for writing the memo means that the “Culture Wars” apparent in the last election cycle have reached Silicon Valley; while Above the Law published three tips for enhancing diversity from employment lawyer Beth Robinson.


The United States needs more low-skilled immigrants. So says Eduardo Porter over at The New York Times, who writes:

What is critical to understand, in light of the current political debate, is that contrary to conventional wisdom, less-skilled immigration does not just knock less-educated Americans out of their jobs. It often leads to the creation of new jobs — at better wages — for natives, too. Notably, it can help many Americans to move up the income ladder. And by stimulating investment and reallocating work, it increases productivity.


Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin is testing whether the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which President Trump signed in June, will make it easier for him to fire Brian Hawkins, the director of the Washington Medical Center. Under the new law, senior department executives like Mr. Hawkins would no longer be allowed to appeal adverse actions, including demotions and firing, to the independent Merit Systems Protection Board. It is unclear whether Shulkin has the power to remove Hawkins, since the current case against Hawkins predates the June law.

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