Posts Tagged ‘employment at will’

Obama: let’s step up federal cop subsidies

It’s like a parody of one’s worst expectations: President Obama refuses to curtail the federal police militarization program, instead calling for a big hike in federal spending on aid to local departments with the usual micromanaging strings attached. [The Guardian] The administration has now gathered some useful information on the Pentagon’s 1033 surplus-gear program, but still has no plans to improve data gathering on police use of lethal force [Washington Post editorial] More from USA Today: “The Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, has waged an intense lobbying campaign to keep the surplus equipment flowing,” and its executive director specifically speaks up in favor of the transfer of armored vehicles and personnel carriers. More: Trevor Timm.

Related: Conor Friedersdorf gathers stories of cops reinstated in union arbitration from Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Sarasota, and other cities. He concludes:

I’d rather see 10 wrongful terminations than one person wrongfully shot and killed. Because good police officers and bad police officers pay the same union dues and are equally entitled to labor representation, police unions have pushed for arbitration procedures that skew in the opposite direction. Why have we let them? If at-will employment, the standard that would best protect the public, is not currently possible, arbitration proceedings should at a minimum be transparent and fully reviewable so that miscarriages of justice are known when they happen. With full facts, the public would favor at-will employment eventually.

You can’t tackle the excessive force problem credibly unless you tackle the power of the police unions. Period.

“It’s getting harder to climb the ladder”

Is the American job market becoming less fluid, as a new paper by Steven Davis and John Haltiwanger argues, with less job-switching and fewer vacancies opening up at established employers? And to the extent this is an unwelcome trend, which policies might be contributing to it? [The Economist; some possibly contrary data points from Alex Tabarrok]

Adventures in employment agreements

The town of Stratford, Connecticut entered an employment agreement with its director of human resources, stating that his employment would be entirely at-will and further providing:

Based upon the annual performance evaluation, and at the [m]ayor’s sole discretion and recommendation, the base salary may be increased on July 1 of each fiscal year, subject to the approval of the [council], which by Charter fixes the salaries of all mayoral appointees.

Subsequently, the town council voted to reduce the manager’s salary, and the dispute went to litigation. Both a trial court and a Connecticut appeals court agreed with the manager’s argument that even though the document prescribed an at-will relationship, by specifying that the base salary “may be increased” it was implicitly promising that it would never be decreased. [Daniel Schwartz; Adams on Contract Drafting]

“Drug dealer gets €11k over Tesco sacking”

Annals of European employment law: “The Irish arm of supermarket giant Tesco has been ordered to pay a convicted drug dealer €11,500 for unfair dismissal.” The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) found that the market should have considered sanctions less severe than dismissal given that the employee had cooperated with its process and that a manager admitted there was no evidence of public awareness of the employee’s legal troubles, which eventuated in a guilty plea and a suspended jail sentence. [Evening Herald (Ireland)]

“Costa Concordia captain sues for wrongful termination”

“Francesco Schettino, former captain of the Costa Concordia, has sued, claiming wrongful termination from his job after the accident, according to his lawyer.” [L.A. Times] “As you may recall, there were a few questions about whether Schettino’s conduct was entirely up to snuff on the night of the accident. First, there was the whole running-into-a-rock problem, of course, but he was also criticized for then fleeing the ship before all the passengers were evacuated.” [Lowering the Bar]

Labor and employment law roundup

  • Gov. Walker’s public sector labor reforms popular with Wisconsin voters, and have saved taxpayers a fortune [Morrissey, Fund, Marquette poll (public favors new law by 50-43 margin] What would FDR say? [Dalmia, The Daily]
  • “Why you should stop attending diversity training” [Suzanne Lucas, CBS MarketWatch, following up on our earlier post]
  • The gang that couldn’t regulate straight: “Court rebuffs Labor Department on sales rep overtime” [Dan Fisher, Forbes] Lack of quorum trips up NLRB on “quickie”/ambush elections scheme [Workplace Prof]
  • Not all claimed “gun rights” are authentic, some come at expense of the vital principle of at-will employment [Bainbridge]
  • Brace yourself, legal academics at work on a Restatement of Employment Law [Michael Fox]
  • “Why Delaware’s Proposed Workplace Privacy Act Is All Wrong” [Molly DiBianca]
  • USA Today on lawyers’ role in growth of Social Security disability rolls [Ira Stoll]

Labor and employment law roundup

Great moments in law firm management?

According to the Sun-Sentinel, managers at the Deerfield Beach, Fla. real estate law firm of Elizabeth Wellborn fired 14 employees on Friday for wearing orange clothing. According to the report, an executive had been informed that the workers were wearing orange as a protest, but several employees told the newspaper that they knew of no protest and that they customarily wore orange on paydays so that they would appear as a group at a happy hour after work.

If the story checks out as reported — the law firm was recorded as having declined comment — expect to hear rumblings about how it refutes the American legal principle of “employment at will,” though it doesn’t actually refute that principle any more than the tale of a wastrel heir refutes the principle of inheritance.

Spain adapts around employment tenure laws

Spanish law makes it difficult and expensive to dismiss conventionally employed workers, but the market has managed to route around that to some extent [J. Servulo Gonzalez, El Pais via Tyler Cowen]:

Temporary contracts were introduced in a labor reform approved in 1984 by the Socialist government of Felipe González, and they have remained in favor ever since – even more so during times of crisis, such as those currently being seen in Spain, where 93 out of every 100 contracts signed of late have been temporary.

Although the Spanish government has attempted to re-regulate temporary employment, as by forbidding renewal of temporary contracts — a step that obviously works to the disadvantage of some of the workers affected — it has also been forced to trim back some of the elaborate tenure protections for private-sector workers, who may now walk away with a maximum of two years’ salary as severance, down from three and a half years’.