Weekend News & Commentary — August 12-13, 2017
On Friday, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin announced new legislation intended to expand apprenticeships and public-private partnerships. The PARTNERS (Pairing Apprenticeships with Regional Training Networks to Meet Employer Requirements) Act would allow states to obtain money from the Department of Labor to expand existing apprenticeship initiatives or to start new ones. In turn, states that receive funding would provide up to $500,000 grants over the course of two years to fund partnerships between businesses and educational institutions. Senator Baldwin said, “This new legislation will scale up our apprenticeship programs and provide more people with the skills they need to succeed. If we invest in public-private partnerships, we can boost workforce readiness and provide our businesses the skilled workers they need to grow our economy.”
On Thursday, the Second Circuit ruled that an employee at a synagogue may bring suit claiming that she was illegally terminated because she was pregnant despite her employer’s attempt to withdraw her termination in Shultz v. Congregation Shearith Israel of N.Y.C., Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue. The Second Circuit’s decision answers a rarely addressed question: whether or not an adverse employment action that supports a law suit occurs when an employee is notified of termination, or when the termination actually takes effect. Alana Shultz, then a program director at a synagogue in New York, was issued a termination notice on July 21, 2015. Her dismissal was intended to be effective on August 14, 2015, but the synagogue attempted to rescind her termination 10 days later. The Court determined that notice of termination constituted an adverse employment action, and as such, an employee may be entitled to damages. In reaching its decision, the Court referenced Supreme Court precedent that “implies that the notification of termination qualifies as an adverse employment action.” The Court noted that its holding applies only to cases where the challenged adverse action is a notice of termination. The Court also noted that other factors, such as the amount of time that elapsed between the notice of termination and its subsequent retraction may impact whether or not the employment action was an adverse action that may be the basis of a legal claim.
This week, Unite Here, a union representing over 1,000 workers at three different hotels, filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the NLRB against Anbang Insurance Group. Anbang is the Chinese holding company that owns the three hotels. The union claims that Anbang failed to comply with earlier requests for information pertaining to the company’s ownership and financing. The complaint comes on the heels of reports that the Chinese government asked the insurance company to sell its oversea assets, which could adversely affect union members. Anbang has received lots of attention in recent years. In the past three years, the company acquired approximately $12.7 billion in acquisitions, including the Waldorf Astoria. The uptick in acquisitions has prompted more calls for transparency regarding the company’s ownership and financing. Available data only shows that Anbang is owned by a number of interconnected entities. Unit Here’s complaint is the latest in a string of woes for Anbang; the company’s chairman was detained in China in June, and the company appears to be deeply in debt.