Today’s News & Commentary — June 22, 2015
France’s taxi unions have called for a nationwide, unlimited strike starting June 25, demanding that the French government crack down on, Uber’s use of independent contractors as drivers, Bloomberg reports. In response to the unions’ mounting concerns, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve asked the country’s police and tax fraud office last Wednesday to more closely monitor Uber’s drivers, leading to more than 400 legal filings against taxis who are allegedly using the Uber app. The San Francisco-based company already faces strong resistance from almost every other European country in which it operates, including Portugal, Belgium, and Germany. As discussed last week, Uber is also facing troubles in its home state, where a hearing officer for the California Labor Commissioner recently ruled that an Uber driver is an employee, not an independent contractor.
The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that businesses can fire employees who use marijuana during their off time, even if they have a legal prescription. Brandon Coats, the plaintiff in the suit, claimed that defendant Dish Network, LLC terminated him because of his state-licensed use of medical marijuana during nonworking hours and that such use of marijuana was protected under a statute prohibiting an employer from terminating an employee for “lawful activity.” Holding that the term “lawful activity” means activity that is “not restricted in any way,” including under federal law, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the state Court of Appeals’ ruling that Coats did not state a claim for relief.
The Ninth Circuit upheld a District Court’s ruling that Washington’s prison system didn’t engage in gender-based discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it created female-only jobs at women’s prisons. The gender-specific positions were created in 2009, at a time when the agency was being bombarded with sexual abuse allegations. In 2011, the Teamsters Local Union No. 117 filed a suit against the agency, alleging that the department improperly designated many positions as female-only without “undertaking a proper analysis of those positions to determine whether being female was, in fact, a bona fide occupational qualification for each designated position.” In affirming the district court’s summary judgment for the agency, the Ninth Circuit panel held that the agency was justified in making certain positions female-only in an effort to reduce rampant abuse of inmates.
Last Wednesday, Hillary Clinton proposed a new tax credit for businesses that hire and train apprentices in an effort to increase employment of young adults, the Wall Street Journal reports. Clinton proposes to offer businesses a tax credit of $1,500 per apprentice, with additional benefits if they hire young adults. Clinton’s announcement comes in the midst of a wave of recent criticism of unpaid internships.
Earlier this month, Oregon became the fourth state to pass a Paid Sick Day law. Senate Bill 454 requires employers to implement a sick time policy allowing employees to earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. According to Support Paid Sick Days, an organization lobbying for sick day legislation around the country, nearly 40% of private sector workers do not have paid sick days to care for their own health, including more than a third of working women and nearly half of all Latino and African American workers.