News & Commentary

July 20, 2015

More than 1,000 airport workers are preparing to strike at JFK and LaGuardia airports, SEIU announced Sunday evening. The workers allege that a subcontractor, Aviation Safeguards, retaliated against workers when they demanded a higher hourly wage. The strike vote will take place today and the strike itself is likely to begin on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against UPS, alleging that the company discriminated against a class of applicants and employees whose religion conflicted with the company’s uniform and appearance policy. According to the agency’s press release, UPS prohibits male employees in customer contact or supervisory positions from wearing beards or growing their hair below collar length; as a result, it has failed to hire or promote individuals whose religious practices conflict with the policy. One class member, a Muslim man who applied for a driver helper position in New York, was told that he had to shave his beard, worn as part of his religious observance, to get the position. A UPS hiring official allegedly told the worker, “God would understand.”

Last week, employees sued Wal-Mart, alleging that its prior policy of denying health insurance to the spouses of gay employees violated gender discrimination laws. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the employees by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. During the administrative hearings on Wal-Mart’s policies, Wal-Mart argued that, because federal anti-discrimination laws did not apply to gay employees, it was not obligated to provide benefits to their spouses.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the National Labor Court, the highest appellate court specializing in labor law and social security in Israel, ruled on Sunday that three Palestinians working in a factory in the West Bank were not entitled to work conditions equal to Israeli workers’. In reaching its decision, the court had to resolve whether the workers’ rights were determined by Israeli law or 1967 Jordanian law—the applicable law before the Israeli occupation. Although Israel has taken the position that Jordanian law applies to Palestinians in a number of areas since 1967, the High Court of Justice held in 2007 that Palestinians living in the West Bank were protected by Israeli labor laws ensuring equal work conditions with Israeli workers. However, in the most recent case, the court ruled for the employers, holding that the industrial zone where the factory was situated falls into a special category because it is part of a joint effort agreed under the Oslo Accords, a set of agreements between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization made in 1993 and 1995, one purpose of which was to supply jobs to Palestinians.

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