Women in the low-wage workforce are increasingly subject to unpredictable and inflexible work schedules that make it incredibly difficult to balance family or school responsibilities or try to hold down a second job to make ends meet. Many of these jobs also only offer part-time work, despite many workers’ need for full-time hours to support themselves and their families. Read more »
On October 7, 2015, the White House will host the White House Summit on Worker Voice, a historic event that will bring together “workers, employers, unions, organizers and other advocates and experts to explore ways to ensure that middle class Americans are sharing in the benefits of the broad-based economic growth that they are helping to create.”
Lifting up workers’ voices means lifting up the voices of women. Women make up two-thirds of the low-wage workforce, working as home health aides, child care workers, fast food workers, cashiers, restaurant servers, and maids and housekeeping cleaners. Strengthening the voices of working people to ensure that they share in the benefits of economic growth means organizing for fair wages, flexible schedules, family and sick leave, and child care. Read more »
This term, which begins next Monday, the Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could raise new obstacles for individuals who faced intolerable discrimination in the workplace that forced them to quit their jobs.
Green v. Donahoe(now listed as Green v. Brennan)asks the Court to decide whether, under Title VII, the clock for bringing a constructive discharge claim begins to run when an employee resigns or at the time of an employer's last discriminatory act prior to the resignation.
A constructive discharge occurs when an individual’s work environment has become so intolerable that the worker has no real choice other than quitting. She hasn’t been officially terminated, but leaving her job is a reasonable response to extreme and unchanging hostility or harassment at the workplace. Read more »
Only a week and a half after Labor Day, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Bobby Scott are already making good on the history and promises of the holiday. Today, Senator Murray and Representative Scott introduced the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act to strengthen protections for working people who join together with their co-workers—either through a union or otherwise—to win improvements at work. The bill is designed to discourage employer retaliation against employees who exercise their right to organize for improvements in their workplaces. It is also designed to assure prompt and fair remedies for those whose right to organize has been denied. Read more »
In May, the Department of Labor proposed a new rule that would update how overtime pay works. If the rule becomes permanent, it would be a great thing for hardworking families across the country.
Overtime is simple, right? If you work more than 40 hours a week, you get time-and-a-half for those extra hours. Employers are incentivized not to overwork their employees, employees can pick up a few hours if they need to make some extra money, and things work out for everyone. What could go wrong?
But as it turns out, there’s a large group of employees who aren’t entitled to overtime pay. Employees with annual salaries over a certain threshold, who work in managerial or professional jobs, don’t have to be paid for their extra hours. In theory, this is fine—managers and other professionals might work more hours, but if they get paid enough, it all evens out.
Imagine this scenario: you work in an environment riddled with pervasive hostility and abuse based on your sex, or your race, or both. In an effort to ameliorate the situation and preserve your job, you attempt to work out the issue internally. When those efforts offer no avail, you are forced to resign from your position and seek recourse in the courts. Read more »
Today the Supreme Court issued a major victory for civil rights in its 8-1EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores [PDF] decision. More surprising than the favorable decision or the fact that it was nearly unanimous, is the author of the majority opinion: Justice Scalia. According to Justice Scalia and the majority of the Court, Abercrombie may have violated a job applicant’s civil rights when it rejected her application because she wore a hijab, even though her religious beliefs never came up in the interview.
The case focused on Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim who had applied for a sales position with Abercrombie Kids. Following an interview with the store manager, who rated her as qualified for hire, the store manager was concerned that Samantha’s head scarf might violate the store’s Look Policy, which prohibited employees from wearing “caps.” The district manager told the store manager that all headwear, religious or not, violates the store’s Look Policy, and directed the store manager to therefore not hire Samantha. Samantha filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the EEOC sued Abercrombie on Samantha’s behalf for violating her religious rights under Title VII. Read more »
Today, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announced that the Department of Labor has drafted a rule to reform overtime pay protections. Along with raising the minimum wage—which would rise to $12 an hour by 2020 under the Raise the Wage Act which was introduced in Congress last week—requiring that workers with modest salaries are compensated for all the hours they work would boost the earnings of millions of hard-working women and men and strengthen our communities and economy.
A little history: the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, in addition to setting a minimum wage, established the basic 40-hour workweek. Hourly workers and workers with salaries below a specified threshold, set by regulation, are entitled to overtime pay—at least time-and-a half their regular rate of pay—for hours in excess of 40 per week. The Act exempts more highly paid professional and managerial employees from the overtime rules. Read more »
Last week, the Supreme Court unanimously decided in Mach Mining v. EEOC that while courts can review the EEOC’s conciliation process, the scope of that review is extremely limited, in order to give the legislated deference to the agency and protect confidentiality in negotiations.
What does that mean, why is it important, and what are its implications?
What it means.
This case began when a woman filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging that Mach Mining violated Title VII by refusing to hire her as a miner based on her sex, evidenced in part because Mach Mining had never actually hired a female miner before (and did not even have a women’s bathroom on its mining premises). As required under Title VII, the EEOC first attempted to conciliate the dispute—meaning that it first attempted an informal resolution with the employer before filing a lawsuit—but, reaching no resolution, it sued the company in court. Read more »