Weekend News and Commentary — August 9-10
The Wall Street Journal reports that more employees are suing their employers under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), with the number of claims rising almost three-fold compared to the previous year. The law guarantees employees as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for family and medical reasons, and bars employers from retaliating against workers for taking it. Experts attribute the sharp rise in claims to workers growing more familiar with the protections offered by the law, and the lower standard of proof required by it (compared to other employment discrimination laws): workers need only show “that the employer somehow deterred him from taking a leave authorized under the act, or interrupted such a leave,” without needing to show the employer’s intent.
A federal district judge in California rejected a proposed settlement in a class action against Google, Apple, and other top tech companies as insufficient. The judge found that there was “ample evidence” of an “overarching conspiracy” between the companies of agreeing since the 1980s not to poach one another’s employees. In taking a step closer to trial, the judge’s order resuscitates what the New York Times calls a public-relations nightmare for the tech companies.
A Wall Street Journal editorial is critical of President Obama’s recently signed executive order, which requires contractors and subcontractors receiving more than $500,000 in federal money to report any labor law violations going back three years. The article thinks that this measure will drastically increase the pressure on these companies to reach settlements when charges are filed against them, since companies would not only have to worry about judgments declared against them but also the loss of vast sums of contract money.
In immigration news, a New York Times editorial argues that President Obama would be acting well within his executive authority if he implements selected protections from deportation for certain groups of immigrants later this summer.
The New York Times reports that that American trucking industry is in desperate need of new truck drivers. The unemployment rate suggests that drivers are out there, and drivers are compensated well compared to other jobs not requiring advanced education. While the article suggests that raising wages would increase the supply of new drivers, it contends that “corporate America has become so parsimonious about paying workers outside the executive suite that meaningful wage increases may seem an unacceptable affront.”