Weekend News & Commentary — February 17-18, 2018

Published February 18th, 2018 -  - 02.18.1813


According to Liz O’Donnell at The Atlantic there is a looming crisis facing America’s working daughters. While advocates already face challenges with regards to paid family and medical leave, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are currently 44 million unpaid eldercare providers in the United States and the majority are women. With few formal or informal support systems, women with aging parents are debating taking time off to care for the elderly, just at the time in their careers when they should be setting themselves up for professional success and their own retirement.

A teacher at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School in Miami was fired days after marrying her wife. Parents at a Catholic school in Miami said they were astounded that administrators had fired a first-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi. “Mary Ross Agosta, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Miami, said in an email on Monday that Ms. Morffi was fired because she violated a contract stipulating that teachers must abide by Catholic teachings and traditions.” After Ms. Morffi was fired, another teacher at the school said they were called into a meeting with school officials where they were warned that if they wanted to continue working for the school, they could not post pictures or attend events that would be considered supportive of same-sex marriage. Ms. Morffi is considering what legal action is available.

The Wall Street Journal explores how even low paid workers in the world’s developing countries are vulnerable to automation, now that machines and robots are reaching into trades that previously seemed immune. “In Bangladesh, Nazma Akter, a union leader, says savings from automation has emboldened factory owners to resist worker demands. In one recent labor dispute, she says, factory owners threw up their hands and said that if workers wouldn’t agree to management’s plans, they would simply automate jobs away.”

Alison Frankel argues that when corporations silence employees through mandatory arbitration provisions in employment contracts, they not only hurt employees, but also institutional shareholders. Citing New York University law professor Cynthia Estlund’s forthcoming article for the North Carolina Law Review, Frankel notes that as many as 722,000 claims were subject to mandatory arbitration.

Institutional shareholders, in particular, frequently proclaim that they care about corporate governance and want the money placed in their trust to be invested in companies with good corporate cultures. If institutional investors are truly putting their money where their mouths are – and I hope they are – the market should already be rewarding companies that follow the rules and punishing those that allow employees to be abused.

But that’s true only if the market knows about the mistreatment. And if employees working under mandatory arbitration clauses truly aren’t bothering to raise allegations, as Estlund’s paper argues convincingly, the market isn’t operating with the information it needs to operate efficiently.

In the era of #metoo, mandatory arbitration means that claims of sexual harassment may never see the light of day.

Judge Catherine C. Eagles of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ordered Uber to provide the “names and contact information for a nationwide class of drivers who may be eligible to join a lawsuit that says the company misclassified them as independent contractors.” In other litigation, Uber has asserted that its driver information should be protected as a ‘trade secret.’ “Eagles’ order says potential class members will have 90 days to opt into the collective action. After the deadline, the drivers leading the lawsuit and their lawyers will be prohibited from contacting potential class members who don’t opt in.”

The 2018 campaign cycle is gearing up and a few Democratic candidates have announced that their campaign staffs are unionizing. “Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce’s campaign workers shocked the political world when they became the first congressional campaign to announce that they had unionized.” The organizing drive was led by the Campaign Workers Guild. And now campaign workers for Jess King’s congressional candidacy in the 16th District of Pennsylvania have announced that they too are unionizing.

On Friday a lawyer from the NLRB concluded in an advice memo that Google did not violate Federal labor law when it fired James Damore after he circulated a memo within the company arguing in part that women were not as biologically capable at tech jobs as men. “Damore dropped the NLRB complaint last month to instead focus on a class action lawsuit he and another former Google employee brought against the company accusing it of discriminating against white, male, and conservative employees.”

 

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