Today’s News & Commentary — March 20, 2018

Published March 20th, 2018 -  - 03.20.1812


President Trump required senior white house employees to sign nondisclosure agreements in early 2017 the Washington Post reports.  The agreement, which prohibits staffers from revealing confidential information and stipulates damages for breach of the agreement, is meant to extend beyond President Trump’s time in office.  Per a draft of the agreement, staffers are prohibited from divulging any nonpublic information they learn over the course of their employment in any form, including works of fiction.  According to the author, no other president has required staffers to sign a far-reaching confidentiality agreement.  The author argues that the NDA is not merely excessive, but unconstitutional.  The nondisclosure agreement may infringe on public employees’ First Amendment rights.

The $1.3 trillion spending bill Congress is considering this week may include a provision exempting Minor League Baseball players from federal labor laws.  Over the past two years, Major League Baseball has been lobbying to preempt lawsuits by minor league players alleging that they have been underpaid.  MLB has claimed exemptions for seasonal employees and apprenticeships, which allows them to pay some players below what is required by federal minimum wage and overtime standards.  The MLB has increasingly faced legal challenges over its exemption practices.  As a result, it has spent significant time lobbying for a written exemption.  According to the president of Minor League Baseball, litigation challenging exemptions threatens the sustainability of minor league clubs.  The lobbying push follows a failed attempt to pass the Save America’s Pastime Act in 2016, which would have created an exemption for minor league players.

Two Chicago police officers have filed separate lawsuits against the city of Chicago alleging sex discrimination.  In the first suit, Lt. Allison Schloss alleged that she was harassed by her boss and eventually demoted.  Lt. Schloss was appointed the commander of a unit that included very few female officers.  Upon Schloss’ appointment, the suit alleges that her supervisor resented the fact that a woman was commander, and harassed her over the next two years.  The harassing behavior included purposefully assigning her busy work, denying her additional training opportunities, and overriding her decisions.  The harassment culminated in Schloss’ demotion and eventual transfer to a different unit.  In a subsequent suit, Officer Maureen Bresnahan alleged that she was passed over for a promotion because she is a woman.  After interviewing and completing a series of aptitude tests, Bresnahan was denied a promotion, while two male officers with the same scores were promoted.  The law suit claims that there is systemic discrimination against women seeking promotions in the Special Functions Division, the same division in which Lt. Schloss worked.  The suit could change how positions are filled in the Special Functions Division.

Ola, a popular Indian ride-hailing company, has expanded to Australia.  The move is a test of Indian start-ups’ viability abroad.  Until now, Uber has had no significant competition in Australia.  Drivers have noted that they are eager for Uber to have some viable competition in the hope that Uber will be forced to adopt more driver-friendly policies.  The competition may also have benefits for Uber.  Under Australia’s stringent labor laws, Uber may be required to treat drivers as employees and, as a result, provide them with a host of benefits.  Uber has already faced legal challenges over the classification of Australian drivers.  If drivers also drive for other services, it may be easier for Uber to argue that the drivers do not qualify as employees in future litigation.  Ola is trying to attract drivers by taking a smaller percentage of fares.

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