News & Commentary

January 26, 2016

The New York Times profiled the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s efforts to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act’s protections of worker privacy in the face of  the Affordable Care Act’s provisions encouraging employers to institute wellness programs for their employees.  The EEOC has argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employers from forcing their employees to provide health information, prevents employers from requiring their workers from undergoing biometric screenings as a condition of providing health insurance.  An uneasy alliance of employers, Republicans, and the White House have pressured the EEOC from walk back this stance in order to allow private employers greater ability to bring down health costs.  The EEOC’s position has been rejected by federal courts in Wisconsin and Florida.

Disney employees who were laid off and replaced by foreign workers have sued the company and global staffing consultants retained by Disney for violating federal law governing  H-1B visas, according to the New York Times.  In order to obtain an H-1B visa to hire foreign workers, a company must declare to the Department of Labor that the decision to hire workers under the program “will not adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed.”

Browning-Ferris filed an appeal with the D.C. Circuit of the NLRB’s recent decision that it violated federal labor law by refusing to negotiate with the Teamsters after the NLRB decided last year that the company was a joint employer of its contract employees, according to Reuters.  The company’s attorney, Stuart Newman, said that his client “strongly believes that it has rights that require vindication.”  The article noted that the upcoming case may test the mettle of D.C. Circuit, which many expect to tip toward liberal results as a consequence of President Obama’s appointments.

Perhaps surprisingly, The Economist endorsed the President’s proposal to provide wage insurance to workers, which would provide laid off workers with half of the shortfall between their previous job and their new job up to a ceiling of $10,000 for two years if the new job pays less than $50,000.  The publication’s endorsement was halting and pragmatic, viewing it as a means of making the losses workers suffer through globalization more palatable to them as well as an impetus for them to take new, lower-paying work more quickly.  “One benefit of the policy,” the publication noted, “is that once suitably insured, workers might be less inclined to oppose economic liberalisation.”

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