News & Commentary

April 8, 2018

The Washington Post reports that Target has agreed to a $3.74 million settlement with black and Latino job applicants who claimed that the company’s criminal background check policy was discriminatory.  The NAACP Legal Defense Fund had filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the workers, claiming that the background check policy relied on criminal records that, in turn, reflected significant racial disparities in the criminal justice system.  The plaintiffs’ attorneys asserted that the policy was “out of step with best practices and harmful to many qualified applicants.”  The suit itself grew out of a 2006 complaint by an applicant in Connecticut who initially received an offer to work as an overnight stocker, but then lost the job after a background check revealed two misdemeanor convictions.  The Post notes that Target has faced a number of similar race- and gender-based discrimination claims in recent years and is adjusting its hiring policies in response.

On Saturday the New York Times continued to probe deeper into the rules of NFL cheerleading.  On the occasion of this weekend’s start of auditions season, the Times asks, “Is it Time to Rethink the Rules for N.F.L. Cheerleaders?”  Coverage of the cheerleaders’ workplace conditions began late last month with the news that former New Orleans Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis had filed an EEOC complaint alleging gender discrimination.  As yesterday’s article suggests, a next stage of the #MeToo movement, which has centered on individuals’ abusive misconduct, might include a broader indictment of the working conditions women, particularly, endure.

Vox reports that Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) seemingly “radical” “codetermination” idea may be mainstream.  Common in Europe, codetermination empowers public company employees by giving them a direct say in the management and values of the corporate board – by vote, they appoint one-third of the board members.  In a recent poll of a political cross-section of U.S. workers, 53 % of respondents support the proposal.  The effects of codetermination are debated. Optimists lean Democratic, while the cynics are more heavily Republican; the poll, therefore, put forth the partisan associations by presenting the proposal in terms of Democratic positive views and Republican negative.  As Vox’s commentary notes, this conceit may cast doubt on the meaning of the results.  Nevertheless, it seems clear that more than a “radical” few in the U.S. may favor boosting worker voice and sway in corporate decision-making.  Open question whether another recent survey, described in Time, reveals something fundamentally different about worker needs and priorities: LendEDU’s poll found that 35% of workers would permanently forfeit their electoral voting rights for a 10% annual pay raise.

Seeking higher pay, plus improved funding for their classrooms, Oklahoma’s largest teachers union continued its strike through Friday.  Oklahoma Education Association named specific demands, which, as a discussion on Saturday’s episode of PBS Newshour indicates, are driven by concerns about educational quality and resource allocation as much as by teacher salaries.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that teachers are among the public servants who were not being served by the federal public service loan forgiveness program.  Congress recently created a $350 million fund to help those indebted public employees who were unwittingly left out of the program due to its byzantine management.

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