Today’s News & Commentary — June 12, 2019
Five senators signed on to a letter by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) calling on McDonald’s to require franchisees to implement its newly updated harassment policies. The letter points out that “independently owned operations make up the vast majority of the over 14,000 McDonald’s locations across the U.S” and that Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO, has only encouraged franchise operators to adopt the company’s new policies so far. The senators write that it is imperative that McDonalds require franchises to adopt the new harassment policy. The Fight for $15 organization filed 23 harassment complaints against McDonald’s restaurants last month.
In other harassment prevention news, Bloomberg reports that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill requiring hotels with more than 100 guest rooms to provide employees with emergency panic buttons. The bill, S-2986, notes that hotel employees are “particularly vulnerable when working alone in hotel guest rooms . . . [which] places them at risk of assault, including sexual assault, and sexual harrassment.”
The National Union of Healthcare Workers called off a strike of 4,000 Kaiser Permanente employees that was scheduled to begin on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Times reports that the employees, which include clinical social workers, therapists, psychologists, and nurses, have been working without a contract since September. NUHW President Sal Rosselli said in a statement: “We feel that a settlement is within reach, and remain ready to work with Kaiser on a fair contract. But if Kaiser won’t come back to the table, we will bring their proposal back to our 4,000 members with a recommendation to vote it down.”
The Fourth Circuit ruled yesterday in Pense v. Maryland Department of Public Safety that Maryland’s employment discrimination law does not waive the state’s immunity to suit in federal court. Pense alleged that he was fired from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services after he disclosed he is gay and HIV-positive. Bloomberg reports that the panel held that the Maryland’s Fair Employment Practices Act does not contain an explicit statement waiving sovereign immunity to suit in federal court, and the Act’s general waiver of sovereign immunity is insufficient.
Finally, Terri Gerstein and Heidi Shierholz write for the Economic Policy Institute’s Working Economics Blog that a recent report on arbitration by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is “misleading and riddled with errors.” The Chamber of Commerce report emphasizes arbitration’s benefits for workers, including the speed of the process. Gerstein and Shierholz point to the lack of transparency in arbitration and skewed data as major problems with the report.