Relax and let Bill Steigerwald do the driving as he refutes a bad new book that bashes Uber and the gig economy.
- Obama pay reporting rules: “Forget for a moment that the whole purpose [is] to provide litigation attorneys a database they can mine to legally harass businesses. The reporting requirements here are incredibly onerous.” [Coyote, earlier here and here]
- This seems so French: “Man Sues Former Employers for Boring Him” [Atlas Obscura, Paris; but compare 1994 Canadian story of attorney Paul Ebbs]
- Second Circuit: managers, supervisors can be individually liable for Family and Medical Leave Act violations [Daniel Schwartz, Jon Hyman] Can one of those managers dismiss an employee who’s exhausted the allotted FMLA leave and not come back? Given the presence of the ADA in the background, you might have to guess [Schwartz]
- Invincible myths of the pay gap [Robin Shea, Hans Bader/CEI, Claudia Goldin 2014 via Marc Andreesen, earlier]
- Yes, a legislature does advance important state interests when it pre-empts local employment regulations [Hans Bader, CEI, on one element of North Carolina HB 2 law, on which earlier]
- Here come “ban the box” bills restricting private, not just public, employer inquiries into criminal records of job applicants [Daniel Schwartz, Connecticut; Aabid Allibhai, On Labor]
At Workforce.com, attorney/blogger Jon Hyman, often linked in this space, follows up on the Mercatus Center report on the high cost of the Obama administration edict ordering overtime for mid-level salaried workers. He writes:
I’d like to focus on one such unintended consequence — lack of workplace flexibility.
From the report:
If employers are forced to record and measure employee hours, they will shift away from allowing employees to telecommute because the cost of monitoring hours for telecommuting is significantly higher, although not impossible given new technologies. The proposed regulation would create a scenario whereby telecommuters have an incentive to work overtime because they would get paid 1.5 times the regular rate and, knowing this, employers have an incentive to make sure employees do not work overtime. A mechanism will be needed by which the employer is able to track the work hours of employees such that the employer knows when an employee is working overtime. Showing up at work and clocking in is the mechanism by which employers normally track employees’ hours. With telecommuting, it is difficult for an employer to track the number of hours worked. As a result, employers may require telecommuters to start physically showing up for work so that they to track and monitor the number of hours these employees work.
Employees like being exempt. They like the flexibility of not having to track their hours. They like the flexibility that comes with a salary that compensates an employee for all hours worked in week, whether it’s 30 hours this week, or 65 hours next week, or 47 hours the week after. The new regulations will strip 5 million employees of this flexibility and convert them to time trackers. Does this change benefit employees? I bet if you polled the 5 million, you’d find that most would prefer to keep their flexibility instead of trading it in for whatever minimal additional compensation (if any) they expect to recover from a switch to non-exempt.
…one of the hottest ideas among lawmakers right now is to ban employers from running credit checks on job applicants. Since 2007, eleven states, as well as Chicago and New York City, have passed such laws….
But a new study from Robert Clifford, an economist at the Boston Fed, and Daniel Shoag, an assistant professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, finds that when employers are prohibited from looking into people’s financial history, something perverse happens: African-Americans become more likely to be unemployed relative to others….
“Employers have many screening measures to narrow down who they want to hire,” Shoag says. “If you take one away, they’ll put more weight on the others.” … Whatever the new criteria were, they seem to have put black applicants at a disadvantage.
[Jeff Guo, Washington Post “WonkBlog”] Shoag gets the best line of the piece: “This reflects a general movement of legislators monkeying around with the hiring process without thinking about the consequences.” A contrary view: Robert Hiltonsmith and Sean McElwee, US News.
Most major retailing chains have been sued under one or another of two California laws providing that workers who otherwise would spend most of the day on their feet must be given suitable seating when “the nature of the work” permits it. The scope of the law’s application had been ambiguous, but now the California high court has ruled and trial lawyers are apparently pleased with its answers. [Lisa Nagele-Piazza, BNA Daily Labor Report] More: Coyote.
- A good labor economics class lets you see through society’s secular religion [Bryan Caplan first, second, and third (“Why labor fallacies have replaced industrial organization fallacies in society’s secular religion”) posts]
- “Meet The Obama Czars Who Decide How Your Workplace Runs” [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, and thanks for quote]
- Welcome news for employers: Seventh Circuit signals it isn’t buying EEOC’s attack on severance offers in CVS case [Jon Hyman, background]
- Can a unionized Uber or Lyft driver file a grievance over your negative comment as a customer? “It’s not at all clear how union job protection policies can jibe with a community-rating economy.” [Brian Doherty, Reason]
- Riffling through just one day’s BNA Labor Report, Michael Fox finds headlines like Firing After FMLA Request Raises Triable Issues, Recommendation Letter Saves Fired Professor’s Bias Suit, and Commission Seeks Comment on Workplace Murder Case [Employer’s Lawyer]
- Disney exec: here’s our plan to engage in racial discrimination in hiring journalists [Ira Stoll, Future of Capitalism] Have they compared notes with BuzzFeed Canada? [Mediaite]
- On minimum wage, New York Times editors find Hillary Clinton overly tethered to economic reality, urge cutting of final moorings [Charles Hughes, Cato] “The Evidence Is Piling Up That Higher Minimum Wages Kill Jobs” [David Neumark, WSJ]
The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, sometimes gives employers an incentive to reduce the work hours of employees so that they will not meet eligibility thresholds for costly health insurance. Lawyers for employees have responded by arguing that this reduction of hours constitutes “retaliation” under ERISA and is itself unlawful. Now a Southern District of New York federal court seems to have bought the theory, at least to the extent to denying a defense motion to dismiss. [R. Pepper Crutcher, Balch & Bingham on Marin v. Dave & Buster’s, Inc.]
In a 45-page booklet, the U.S. Chamber talks back at the National Labor Relations Board over its push in recent years to forbid, as violations of labor law, a wide range of employer workplace rules:
Through a series of decisions and official guidance, the NLRB has undertaken a campaign to outlaw heretofore uncontroversial rules found in employee handbooks and in employers’ social media policies—rules that employers maintain for a variety of legitimate business reasons… The NLRB has gone to outlandish lengths to find commonsense workplace policies unlawful … the Board’s irrational interpretations of the law have created a serious headache for employers and employees looking for stability and common sense in labor relations.
* Confidentiality of workplace investigations
* Employee misconduct
* Communications and non-disparagement
* Protection of intellectual property and confidentiality of company information
* At-will disclaimers
* Dress codes
The Cato Policy Report invited holiday book recommendations from various people associated with Cato. Here is my contribution:
Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow
In the picture book Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow (1910), little Pelle needs new clothes and begins by shearing wool from the pet lamb he takes care of. He asks his grandmother to card it and she agrees if he will weed her carrot patch. His other grandmother will spin the carded wool into yarn if he will look after her cows in the meantime. The painter says that while paint is no good for coloring yarn, if Pelle will fetch him some turpentine he happens to need from the general store, he can use the change to buy a packet of dye. So Pelle rows off to accomplish that task (yes, rows; this is Sweden, and they might all just live in an archipelago). Amid delicate drawings of village life, this is first a lesson in doing chores with a willing hand, but also a gentle parable in production, exchange, and the division of labor, which includes domestic labor (one of his tasks is to babysit his little sister). At the end, Pelle rejoices in a new suit made by the labor of others — and which he has fully earned.
- Now watch out for the next phase of the “ban the box” effort, which will demand that private employers not be allowed to ask about applicants’ criminal records [Open Society via @georgesoros]
- “We have one restaurant in Seattle, and we probably won’t be expanding there. That’s true of San Francisco and Los Angeles, too.” [Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith via David Boaz]
- New York Times reporting vs. nail salons: the video [Reason, earlier] The other Greenhouse effect, in this case Steven: Times “sees the labor beat as having essentially an advocacy mission.” [Adam Ozimek]
- The lawsuits of September: “the EEOC has once again rushed to file a blitz of federal court complaints just under the fiscal year wire” [Matthew Gagnon, Christopher DeGroff, and Gerald Maatman, Jr., Seyfarth Shaw]
- I was a guest on Ray Dunaway’s morning drive time show on WTIC (Hartford) talking about cop fitness tests and the blind barber suit, you can listen here:
- NYC Commission on Human Rights — with an assist from Demos and New Economy Project — runs public ads saying “There’s no evidence that shows a link between credit reports and job performance. That’s why NYC made it illegal to use credit reports in employment decisions.” The “Suburbanist” responds: “We will punish those who depart from our null hypotheses regarding their business. Human rights indeed.”
- What are the biggest legal questions facing employers? “What is work?” and “Who is an employee?” are a start [Jon Hyman]