Today’s News & Commentary — January 16, 2018

Published January 16th, 2018 -  - 01.16.1816


The Department of Labor released new guidance that makes it easier for companies to hire unpaid interns.  As we discussed here, the dividing line between ‘employee’ and ‘intern’ has been contested.  Finding Obama-era DOL guidance too strict, the Second Circuit in 2016 created a ‘primary beneficiary’ test for analyzing the worker-employer relationship: where the worker benefits more, the worker is an intern; where the employer benefits more, the worker is an employee.  The DOL has now adopted this ‘primary beneficiary’ test and rescinded the Obama-era guidance, leaving unpaid internships at for-profit companies on strong footing.

In response to shareholder activism by Arjuna Capital, Citigroup has released data on the gender and racial pay gaps in the company’s U.S., UK, and German workforces.  The data shows women making 99% of what men do and employees of color making 99% of what their white coworkers do.  The data compares workers with the same title and responsibilities; it doesn’t reflect the different demographics at different levels in the company.  Citi announced plans to increase pay for women and minorities in response to these findings.  More data describing Citigroup’s UK workforce will follow before April 2018, when new annual reporting requirements kick in.

Where the Obama Administration audited employer paperwork to identify unauthorized workers, the Trump Administration has sent ICE officers to workplaces like 7-Eleven.  The New York Times notes that this reprise of Bush-era raids creates fear and compromises workplace organizing.  “It’s not motivating people to self-deport,” in the words of Mariela Martinez, organizing director of the Los Angeles Garment Worker Center.  “It’s motivating people to not use their labor rights.”

Equal pay and paid sick leave are two key priorities for incoming New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.  The Washington Post reports on his plans to make the state a progressive beacon, including support for immigrants and legalization of marijuana.

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