Today’s News & Commentary — July 3, 2018

Published July 3rd, 2018 -  - 07.03.183


After long campaign by thousands of app-based drivers with the Independent Drivers Guild, New York City released a report today analyzing a proposal to establish a minimum pay rate for app-based for-hire vehicle drivers.  The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, which would enact and implement the pay standard, contracted with Dr. James Parrott of the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs and Dr. Michael Reich of the University of California, Berkeley, for a report on the need for and effects of a minimum pay standard that would apply to the more than 65,000 NYC drivers affiliated with Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno.  The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which advocates on behalf of professional drivers including traditional yellow cab drivers, criticized the proposal for accepting the app-based ride industry, which they argue has created a race to the bottom that hurts both app drivers and taxi drivers.

On Sunday, Mexico elected Andrés López Obrador, a leftist and outspoken opponent of the Trump administration’s immigration and trade policies, as its next president.  López Obrador has criticized NAFTA for its devastating effects on small Mexican farmers and publicly called for raising Mexico’s minimum wage.  During his campaign, he spoke often about poverty alleviation as a way of reducing violent crime, and these promises are what propelled him to observers many described as a “landslide victory that upended the nation’s political establishment.”

Police departments in U.S. cities with large Hispanic populations attribute a significant decline in reports of certain crimes by Latino communities to increased fear among immigrants, as the Trump administration escalates its “zero tolerance” policies toward immigrants. Last year, Houston saw a 16% drop in domestic violence reports from Hispanics, which police blame on S.B. 4, Texas’ anti-sanctuary city law, saying it has made undocumented immigrants more reluctant to report crime for fear of being deported. “Undocumented immigrants and even lawful immigrants are afraid to report crime,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, making immigrants more vulnerable to illegal and abusive treatment in their workplaces.

In the wake of #MeToo, confidential settlement agreements made by state governments for sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination claims are finally coming to light after taxpayers have footed the bills for years. Over the past ten years, Delaware paid $663,000 to settle claims from state employees, according to The News Journal. Since 2009, Louisiana paid $5.1 million to settle at least 84 sexual harassment lawsuits, according to The Advocate. New York paid over $10 million over nine years to settle 88 cases of sexual harassment and discrimination, Newsday reported. And California paid more than $25 million in the last three years alone to settle claims against state agencies and public universities, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Last week, the Fifth Circuit ruled in a Title VII case brought by a nurse that assisted living facilities can be held responsible for severe and pervasive sexual harassment of their employees by residents. In Gardner v. CLC of Pascagoula, Circuit Judge Gregg Costa wrote that the case presented “one of the more challenging situations in which to apply this principle that an employer can be liable for a hostile work environment created by nonemployees.” Ultimately, his opinion reversed the district court’s ruling and found that the employer violated its duty to reasonably protect its employees once it became aware of abusive behavior by failing to undertake measures to attempt to remedy it.

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