Today’s News & Commentary — June 19, 2018
In the wake of the Epic Systems decision, U.S. companies are flocking to include forced arbitration and class action waiver clauses in their contracts. Attorney Ron Chapman of Ogletree Deakins helped create an arbitration clause generator on his firm’s website that went live soon after the ruling. “A lot of companies were waiting on the Supreme Court to see whether it was permissible or not,” he told CNN Money, noting that the tool has been used by about 50 businesses so far. Jared Odessky wrote for the National Employment Law Project on how such forced arbitration diminishes LGBTQ workers’ ability to vindicate their rights. In the meantime, students at a number of law schools continue their campaign to make firms that recruit on their campuses drop—or, at a minimum, disclose—forced arbitration agreements for their employees.
Today, voters in Washington, DC, decide the fate of Initiative 77 to apply DC’s minimum wage to tipped workers, who currently receive a subminimum wage from their employers and rely on tips to make up the difference. The National Employment Law Project found evidence from other states to suggest that raising the tipped minimum wage helps alleviate poverty by ensuring higher wages overall. Still, almost every elected official and restaurant in DC (with some exceptions, like the storied Florida Avenue Grill) oppose it, as well as many restaurant workers, especially those at higher end establishments. However, many tipped workers support 77 but fear retaliation for speaking out given their employers’ vocal opposition. Moreover, the restaurant industry has spent significant resources to defeat the ballot measure, much of it coming from anti-worker groups, restaurants that commit wage theft, and PR groups that previously consulted for the Trump campaign.
Confectionery News reported that a lawsuit against Nestlé and Cargill by six former child laborers that began in 2005 took yet another twist as appeal judges ruled that the plaintiffs can sue the companies in the United States after all. A three-judge 9th Circuit panel decided that the six plaintiffs can sue the two manufacturers known for their sweet products under the Alien Tort Statute for alleged child labor violations. The ruling created a circuit split between the 4th and 9th and 2nd and 5th Circuits.
Following the example of #MeToo, New York magazine reports that fashion assistants are using social media to shed light on rampant workplace abuse in their industry. On Instagram, the account @FashionAssistants spotlights problems endemic to the field, following in the footsteps of fashion models and industry interns who have begun organizing in response to poor working conditions, including verbal and often even physical abuse.