December 4, 2004
More on Bush - "The Kisser"
A few days ago I blogged about President Bush's "practice" of kissing women Cabinet appointees when announcing their nominations (here).
Jeann Pattenson from the Chicago Tribune provides us with first a picture of the kiss, and with further thoughts on whether it was appropriate for the President to show this kinf of affection:
"Was the kiss just a kiss--a spontaneous expression of affection and congratulations? Or was it a breach of protocol? Or a chauvinistic misstep?
No surprise in these divisive times: Opinion is divided.
In the case of Bush and Rice, "I think it's fine," says Peggy Post, great-granddaughter-in-law of etiquette guru Emily Post and author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business."
"They have a good working relationship. The kiss was a congratulatory gesture. It was nothing improper," she says.
Generally, it is better to shake hands in a business or formal setting, Post says.
"But it's situational. It depends on how well people know each other, what the occasion is, what the event is. When people know each other well, a brief hug or air kiss is fine."
Etiquette expert Leah Ingram of New Hope, Pa., disagrees.
"I felt like that photo demeaned Rice," she says. "When I saw it on the cover of my newspaper, it's like some internal alarm went off inside me. It felt wrong.
"You can kiss your wife, you can kiss your daughter, but don't kiss your secretary of state. Did Bush ever kiss Colin Powell? I don't think so."
December 3, 2004
Hooters Discrimination Lawsuit
Testimony continues in a sexual harrassment case filed by a Hooters' employee (Joanna Ciesielski) alleging that, "restaurant management did nothing to stop co-workers from grabbing her and watching her change clothes through peepholes drilled in changing room walls."
According to reports, "defense attorneys argued that Ciesielski is in it for the money. During cross-examination, they attacked her motives. Hooters attorney Ray Passopento said Ciesielski never made any attempt to contact the corporate office of the company, despite an extensive anonymous procedure for doing so. They also questioned her videotapes, suggesting they might have been recorded later than what Ciesielski testified."
December 2, 2004
The Economic Policy Institute reports that in response to what some perceive to be lack of interest at the federal level in raising the minimum wage,
"states are stepping in to make sure that workers in their states don't suffer from federal neglect. Since 1997, when the federal minimum was raised to $5.15, the number of states with higher rates than the federal has gone from five to 13. On November 2nd, voters in Florida and Nevada overwhelmingly (71% in Florida and 68% in Nevada) approved ballot measures to join these states in setting minimum wages above the federal level. They also joined two states—Washington and Oregon—in requiring moderate annual adjustments to the state minimum wage to account for changes in the cost of living."
Thanks for Joe Hodnicki for the tip.
Howard Chang on Immigration Restrictions
Professor Howard Chang (University of Pennsylvania Law School) is presenting, "Cultural Communities in a Global Labor Market: Immigration Restrictions as
Residential Segregation" as part of the Georgetown Law Center's Law and Economics Worshop Series, tomorrow December 3.
December 1, 2004
More on Wal-Mart
An article on Wal-Mart as a leader is establishing "employment practices"
With 1.2 million employees -- the nation's largest employer -- Wal-Mart is, in the words of historian Nelson Lichtenstein, a "template firm" for U.S. companies -- and thus has received much media scrutiny for its employment practices. Here is a closer look at the issue of Wal-Mart and unions, and a roundup of some of the charges that have been made in court against the retailer and the company's defense. Plus more on Wal-Mart's plans for becoming a "a leader in employment practices." Is Wal-Mart a Bargain for its Workers?
Also from Frontline, Is Wal-Mart Good for America?. This reports explores:
"the relationship between U.S. job losses and the American consumer's insatiable desire for bargains in "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" Through interviews with retail executives, product manufacturers, economists, and trade experts, correspondent Hedrick Smith examines the growing controversy over the Wal-Mart way of doing business and asks whether a single retail giant has changed the American economy."
A website about efforts in Canada to organize Wal-Mart's stores
The United Food and Commercial Workers' website has a section on
In, Wal-Mart Seeks to Get Class Status Overturned, the LA Times reports that:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. asked a federal appeals court Monday to throw out a lower court ruling approving the largest employment class-action lawsuit in history, filed on behalf of as many as 1.5 million women.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based discount retailer urged the appeals court in San Francisco to remove class-action status for the suit, which seeks billions of dollars in back pay for alleged discrimination.
In its 61-page appeal, Wal-Mart argues that U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins improperly ignored a study by experts for the company that showed no disparity in pay or promotions between men and women in 90% of its 3,400 stores in the U.S.
Conference Board's Report
"88 percent of the 540 global business leaders interviewed designate speed, flexibility, and adaptability as a top priority for their companies. Some 42 percent consider this issue “of greatest concern” (the strongest challenge rating). The report, in its fifth year, covers CEO views in 40 countries."
Some of the other Report's findings are:
“Business leaders realize that their top executives need to be continually learning while at their jobs,” says Barrington. “The ability to innovate based on newly acquired knowledge is the key to keeping companies competitive.”
In addition, 66 percent of the CEOs surveyed say that the availability of talented managers is a top priority, while 26 percent say it is of greatest concern to them.
Availability of skilled labor is also a top priority for leaders across the globe. Sixty-six percent of Asian business leaders say it is a leading company priority, compared with 51 percent of CEOs from Europe and 42 percent from the U.S.
Joan is a prolific writer in the labor and employment law area. She recently joined Professors Sam Estreicher and Michael Harper in the publication of the 5th Edition of Labor Law: Cases, Materials and Problems.
November 30, 2004
Nondisclosure agreements at Homeland Security
The Washington Post reports that:
"Leaders of two government unions called on Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to stop requiring all 180,000 department workers to sign nondisclosure agreements that prohibit them from sharing sensitive but unclassified information with the public."
The nondisclosure agreements restrict:
"disclosure of several new types of government information beyond classified data, the category "law enforcement sensitive."
The form defines as "sensitive" any information that could "adversely affect the national interest or the conduct of federal programs," a much lower barrier than damaging national security. The definition also includes information that would violate a person's privacy."
My colleague Leonard Bierman (Texas A&M Univ.) and I have recently written on the related topics of pay secrecy rules ( Pay Secrecy/Confidentiality Rules and the National Labor Relations Act, 6 Univ. of Pennsylvania J. of Labor & Employment Law 121, 2003) and employee information exchanges (The Law and Economics of Employee Information Exchange in the Knowledge Economy, 12 George Mason L. Rev. 651, 2004)
Oral argument today in Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of Education
The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral argument today in Jackson, Roderick v. Birmingham Board of Education. The case raises the important issue of whether the private right of action for violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq., encompasses redress for retaliation for complaints about unlawful sex discrimination?
Nina Totenberg discusses the case in NPR's Morning Edition (here)
From IRRA to LERA
Check the newly updated website of the previously known Industrial Relations Research Association, now know as the Labor and Employment Research Association.
According to the website:
By better than a 3-1 margin, the IRRA general membership has voted the name of the Industrial Relations Association will be changed to the Labor and Employment Relations Association. The new acronym would be LERA. The vote tally was 77% for the change and 23% against the change. The change was recommended by the Executive Board and follows nearly a decade of debate and dialogue within the association. The new name was suggested by the Special Strategic Membership Committee (SSMC) as one of several new initiatives addressing membership issues in a special report presented to the Executive Board in June 2003.
John Burton, chair of the SSMC, explained the move was prompted by the increasingly narrow way in which the term "industrial relations" has come to be used. Burton's response to hearing that the membership had ratified the change was, "The vote of the members to change our name to the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) is an important confirmation of the organization's relevance and vitality in the 21st century. The new name best conveys our long-standing commitment to all aspects of labor, employment, and the workplace. The realignment of our name, in conjunction with recent efforts that have added services for our practitioner and academic members, means the future for LERA is auspicious."
November 29, 2004
Increase in number of wage and hours complaints
According to Newsday.com:
Workers' complaints about being denied overtime pay, wages and job leave guaranteed by law rose this year to the highest level in four years, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Penalties for violations and awards of back wages fell.
The department's Wage and Hour Division received 31,786 worker complaints in the federal budget year that ended Sept. 30. That compared with 31,123 complaints in 2003.
Worker Complaints of Labor Violations Rise (LEIGH STROPE)
More on the NBA
The New York Times reports that the NBA Player's Union filed a grievance challenging the suspensions issued by the Commissioner. According to the article:
"The union requested that an arbitrator hear its grievance contesting the authority Stern had to make the decision."
"The league says there is no need for an arbitrator because under the collective bargaining agreement, the commissioner has sole authority to discipline players for their on-court actions."
It looks to me that the suspensions must be upheld. Art. XXXI, Sec. 8(a), seems to give the Commissioner pratically unilateral power in cases of "on court" infractions--see subsection (iii). It seems likely that "on court" means game-related (as opposed to drunk driving, say), and logically would cover going into the stands (think of the bad incentives if it covered on-court fights but not fights in the stands). Even if that failed, Art. XXXI Sec. 5(c)'s language about "public confidence in the game" would seem to apply, in which case the arbitrator could only use a "arbitrary and capricious" standard of review.
Professor Slater's take appears to be right on target, I think.
November 28, 2004
More on English-Only rules - In France?
A few days ago I blogged on the reported increase in legal challenges to workplace English-only rules (see here).
The Guardian reports a similar claim being filed by french workers against a U.S, company in France. According to article (French staff sue US multinational for making them use English)
French employees will accuse a US multinational in court today of discrimination, claiming that they are being forced to speak English.
They say General Electric Medical Systems is sidelining the large proportion of its workforce who speak little or no English. It encourages them to work with company documents and instruction manuals written in English."
The employees argue that:
"the company is in breach of the 1994 Toubon law, which says that all documents vital to an employee being able to work effectively must be in French. If the work ers succeed, it will create a legal precedent which will force many other US companies in France to change their practices."
Thanks to Paul Caron for the tip.