News & Commentary

September 14, 2020

Mackenzie Bouverat

Mackenzie Bouverat is a student at Harvard Law School.

The Department of Labor has issued a new rule reinterpreting the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which Congress passed in March as part of its coronavirus stimulus measures. Their initial interpretation of the rule–which a Federal judge overruled due to its overbreadth–excluded all workers all types of employees at any health-care facility from the federal paid leave program, which required all employers with fewer than 500 workers provide at least two weeks of paid sick leave to employees affected by the virus and, up to 10 weeks of partially paid family leave for working parents to care for children whose school or day care is closed due to Covid-19. The new interpretation now excludes healthcare workers who are physicians or and those who make medical diagnoses.

The Ninth Circuit has granted partial review of a Louisiana-based financial adviser’s 2017 allegation that she was fired from her job at REJ Properties Inc. in retaliation reporting gender-based bullying she endured at the hands of co-workers was well-plead. In addition to retaliation, her complaint alleged disparate pay, hostile work environment, and breach of contract claims. The court allowed the case to proceed due to a genuine issue of material fact surrounding her harassment claims, holding that a a reasonable factfinder could infer that REJ’s proffered reason for firing her was a pretext for unlawful retaliation against her.

Darmody Enterprises L.T.D. – owner and operator of McDonald’s restaurants in Idaho – has paid $50,000 in civil penalties for their violation of child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at 11 locations across Boise, Meridian, and Nampa. The franchises violated child labor requirements at 11 restaurants by allowed 14- and 15-year-old employees to work more than 3 hours during school days; past 7 p.m. during school days; past 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day; more than 8 hours per day on non-school days; and to operate manual fryer baskets, also a violation. Finally, one of the franchises failed to maintain accurate proof of age of one minor employee, in violation of the FLSA.

In partnership with a local food bank, the World Wildlife Fund is piloting a program, called Second Helping, which aims to reduce food waste and help gig-workers, farmers, and food banks. The program recruits inexperienced participants through online job boards, and does not require background checks. They received training from farmers on-site. Shifts lasted two hours each and participants earned between US$20-40 an hour at US$0.15 per pound, which is the typical rate for tomato picking. When questioned about concerns about worker protection, liability, and fair treatment, a WWF representative alleged that they would not continue to work in the farm labor sector without guarantees of worker protection.

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