Today’s News & Commentary — July 25, 2017
A New York Times piece covers the impact of drug tests (and drugs) on the economy. In particular, it profiles various manufacturing companies in the Midwest, revealing the challenges they face filling jobs due to the proportion of applicants who fail drug tests. As one employer stressed, one wrong move with the equipment can result in death, so there is a pressing need to ensure that employees are not under the influence—a need reemphasized by these employers’ insurers. For employers that provide health insurance, a rise in drug use can also impose an additional financial strain. The article describes a fabricating and machining company that covers health insurance for all of its 150 employees and their families. The company has paid for five dependents to go through drug treatment in the past three years, as well as a month of intensive treatment for an employee’s baby found to have been born addicted to opiates. We have touched on the impact of what has been termed the “opioid crisis” on the labor market here and here.
Oral argument in David Hylko, Jr. v. John Hemphill, et al. (6th Cir.) will take place this Thursday (July 27, 2017). Hylko (Plaintiff) appeals a lower court’s decision to dismiss his sexual harassment claim against a former co-worker (a man) and his former employer, U.S. Steel Corporation. According to Hylko, his co-worker consistently engaged in sexual conversations with him, and made inappropriate gestures and jokes. In granting defendants’ motion for summary judgement, the lower court reasoned that Hylko failed to make the required showing for a same-sex harassment claim that the harasser (1) acted out of sexual desire, (2) was motivated by general hostility to the presence of members of his or her own sex, or (3) treated men and women differently. Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998). The EEOC will appear on Hylko’s behalf to argue that the list provided in Oncale is illustrative but not exhaustive.
The Washington Post reports that Three Square Market, a Wisconsin company, will offer to implant microchips into its employees starting August 1, 2017. Each employee will be given the choice to have the RFID chip implanted between her thumb and forefinger. The chips would enable participating employees to store medical information, pay for purchases, and log into their computers “all with a wave of the hand.” As the article notes, the chip does not have “GPS tracking capability … yet.”
Across the pond, some of BBC’s highest-profile female presenters signed an open letter to Tony Hall, BBC’s Director General, imploring him to address the gender pay gap between male and female presenters. BBC had previously published presenter salaries in its annual report, which revealed that the top-paid male presenter was paid more than four times what the highest-paid female presenter was paid.