Today's News & Commentary — February 25, 2016
On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit upheld a 2011 Labor Department rule prohibiting businesses from collecting tips given to waiters, casino dealers, or other service employees, to share with support staff, such as dishwashers, according to Politico and ABC News. This rule applies even if tipped employees are receiving minimum wage. Seven states have minimum wage statutes that require workers to get the state minimum wage on top of any tips. In upholding the rule, the court overturned district court rulings in Nevada and Oregon.
The New York Times Magazine takes up “the case for blind hiring” in today’s issue. GapJumpers, a software company developed a few years ago to facilitate hiring in Silicon Valley focused on coding challenges and other job-related application tasks, and not by the name of an applicant’s college on a resumé. Now, GapJumpers is turning its focus toward another problem in the tech industry: the lack of diversity. As companies like Google focus on “culture fit” through long, elaborate interviews, hiring results in a relatively homogenous worker set. Studies show that how white an applicant’s name sounds impacts their likelihood to get an interview. GapJumpers’ solution provides a method to screen job applicants without showing employers any biographical information. In its early tests of the program, GapJumpers conducted 1,400 auditions for big companies, and whereas only about one-fifth of applicants who were not white, male, able-bodied elite school graduates made it to a first round interview using the traditional hiring methods, using blind auditions, 60 percent did.
Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post discusses the implications of the rise in high-wage employment since 2013. A recent report by Goldman Sachs pronounced this trend, echoing a report produced by the Department of Labor in October. As DePillis explains, this renewed growth is generally a sign of economic recovery, following growth in low-wage retail and restaurant jobs, and increased consumer activity. Some economists are less optimistic, however. People are still mostly making less money than they were before the recession. Additionally, a large part of the labor force has been left out of the job growth: middle-wage jobs in fields like manufacturing have disappeared and have not been replaced.
The House Oversight Committee is investigating allegations that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has retaliated against employees who reported security lapses, while awarding bonuses to supervisors ignoring warnings, the New York Times reports. According to documents produced by Andrew Rhoades, an assistant federal security director at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a top official in charge of security for TSA was paid over $70,000 in bonuses despite a leaked audit that showed that screeners failed to detect weapons 95% of the time. Rhoades says TSA tried to reassign employees like him who reported the security lapses. Additionally, in another lawsuit filed last Friday, a former deputy assistant administrator for the TSA’s Washington, DC, office of intelligence and analysis, filed a lawsuit against the agency alleging he was demoted and reassigned after objecting to gender discrimination and sexually offensive comments made by male coworkers. Other senior executives have also filed lawsuits alleging discriminatory practices in the agency.
Looking abroad, workers in Russia are protesting President Putin’s cuts on industry and drive to quash a budding democracy movement, according to the New York Times. For years, Russia avoided the international recession using hard currency reserves, but now the economic slump has begun to hit hard. The Russian city that calls itself the “birthplace of trains” has begun protesting; workers have seen wage cuts and layoffs, as they go to work in train factories every day to sit in idle assembly lines. Many workers in the city feel betrayed by Putin and the promises he made when campaigning for the presidency. The city is one of several factory towns across Russia where labor unrest has begun to stir.