News & Commentary

June 10, 2016

Leora Smith

Leora Smith is a student at Harvard Law School.

Widespread strikes continue in France as Air France pilots get ready to stop work this weekend, right in the midst of the European soccer championships which are projected to bring two million visitors to the country.  Groups of workers have been striking for over a month in response to new laws that make it easier to fire people, and loosen standards around benefits, but the New York Times Editorial Board thinks its time for workers call this whole thing off.  Meanwhile, former Le Monde editor Sylvain Cypeland argues in the New York Times that  while French lawmakers say the new standards will help create more jobs, working people are afraid it will just create “more firings”.

On the domestic front, Louisiana just became the 24th state to “ban the box” by enacting a law that prohibits state employers from asking about criminal history on initial job applications.  The move is intended to give applicants a fair chance at obtaining an in-person interview (where questions about criminal history are still permitted).  NELP is keeping a comprehensive list of all cities, counties and states who have banned the box.  They estimate that over half of the U.S. population now live in “fair-chance” jurisdictions.

And continuing the theme of changing laws – Politico reports that waste management company Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) submitted their opening brief yesterday for an appeal to an important NLRB decision that reset the legal definition of joint employers.   The August NLRB decision marked a return to an older and more expansive definition that does not require joint-employers to exert direct authority over employees, but only to “reserve the authority to do so.”  BFI’s brief argues that the Board’s definition contradicts the Taft-Harley Amendments to the NLRA which define “employer” as someone with “direct and immediate control” over employees.  Whichever way this case is decided it will have significant impacts on millions of workers employed by temp agencies.

Finally, in Fight for $15 news, a New York appellate court upheld the state’s order to gradually raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15/hour.  The wage order was challenged by the National Restaurant Association. Read the court’s full decision here.

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