Today’s News & Commentary — September 4, 2019
Leif Olson, a Department of Labor official appointed by the Trump administration last month, resigned after a Facebook post he wrote was made public. Four hours after Bloomberg Law requested comment from the White House and DOL about a 2016 post in which Olson referenced anti-Semitic stereotypes, the department said he had resigned. Olson said the post was “sarcastic” but declined to comment further. As a senior policy adviser in the Wage and Hour Division, Olson worked on deregulatory actions to limit corporations’ shared liability with affiliated companies and clarify overtime pay calculations during his 18-day tenure. His previous work at his eponymous law firm in Houston included challenging the legal rights of married same-sex couples after Obergefell.
Los Angeles Times business columnnist Michael Hiltzik reported that gig economy giants Uber, Lyft, and Doordash have contributed a combined $90 million to mount a campaign for a California ballot initiative that would protect them from having to classify their drivers as employees. At the same time that Uber and Lyft claim their drivers are independent contractors who have the ability to work for multiple platforms, a Freedom of Information Act request rejected by the city of Chicago revealed that both companies successfully argued to city officials that the names of their drivers should be treated as “trade secrets.” In a letter reviewed by Bloomberg, the city explained that it would not release drivers’ names for use in an academic project because it “would cause competitive harm specifically by allowing their competitors to target and ‘poach’ their drivers.” Meanwhile, drivers who are injured or even killed on the job—like Waheed Etimad, the sole provider for his wife and seven children, who was killed in a car accident while driving for Uber earlier this year—are ineligible for worker’s compensation because they are not employees.
The New York Times profiled Marjorie Salmon, a home health aide for a 77-year-old man with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. “Marjorie’s job is called home health aide,” wrote the Times, “but the term does not begin to encompass her duties. She is social worker, housekeeper, behavioral-modification expert, dietitian, diaper changer, day planner, de facto case manager, warden and more.” Salmon earns $160 a day plus room and board for working up to 16 hours a day, for 26 or 27 days out of the month—which comes out to about $10 an hour.
After nine months without pay, the Jamaican women’s national soccer team announced that they are on strike. The players, known as the “Reggae Girlz,” launched a campaign called “No Pay, No Play” on Monday, refusing to compete or train until they are paid the money they’re owed. Earlier this year, the team became the first Caribbean country to compete in the Women’s World Cup. Meanwhile, U.S. women’s national team players continue to fight for equal pay after mediation talks with U.S. Soccer ended last month. A trial date in the team’s lawsuit against U.S. Soccer for “institutionalized gender discrimination” has been set for May 5, 2020.