Today’s News & Commentary — December 5, 2017
The Department of Labor has published a proposed change to the rules around tip pooling. In 2011, the Obama Administration clarified the Fair Labor Standards Act regulations to reflect the Wage and Hour Division’s long-standing policy – based on 1974 FLSA amendments – that employers could never require staff to share tips, regardless of whether the employer paid a tipped or full minimum wage. The Trump Administration now proposes to repeal the Obama-era rule. While the restaurant industry welcomes repeal, which is consistent with the position they have taken in litigation over the 2011 rule, critics observe that it will leave wait staff with less take-home pay: employers are now free to require tipped workers, such as bartenders, to subsidize the pay of “back of the house” staff, such as bus boys, or to keep the tips for themselves, as long as they pay tipped workers at least $7.25 per hour. Saru Jayaraman of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United points out that tipped workers are majority women, and employer control over tips would exacerbate their vulnerability.
In the New York Times’ opinion pages, Sallie Krawcheck reacts to recent coverage of workplace sexual assault by connecting workplace sexual assault and gender bias to the overrepresentation of men in private sector leadership. Studies show that this homogeneity at the top hurts a company’s bottom line. The Associated Press shows a second way that business leaders are reacting to recent reporting on sexual harassment: many more companies plan to have alcohol-free holiday parties this year than last.
In May of this year, Uber cut prices in Nigeria by 40%. Drivers responded by protesting and by moving en masse to the Estonian ride sharing app Taxify, which takes less commission. Holdouts at Uber were reportedly told that they could qualify for an additional payment to compensate for the 40% cut, but only if they accepted 80% of requests and drove one trip per two hours. The LA Times reports on the aftermath of these changes—and their impact on drivers in the precarious position of renting the cars they drive for work.
Three years after Chicago passed an ordinance gradually raising the minimum wage to $13 per hour in 2019, the Chicago Tribune finds that enforcement has been limited. The city exempts from the ordinance workers like security guards, barbers, nail technicians, and locksmiths, who are regulated by Illinois. Pay outs are not big enough to incentivize much enforcement by private attorneys, and the city has not allocated significant resources to enforcement. The workers’ rights organization Arise Chicago is advocating for creation of a city office specifically dedicated labor standards. The city is working to improve language access.