Friday, June 6, 2014
The Department of Labor released its May employment data today. The unemployment rate stayed the same at 6.3%, with 217,000 jobs added last month. Many of the other measures were stable, with the labor participation rate staying at 62.8%, workweeks at 34.5 hours, and long-term unemployed at 3.4 million (although that number has declined by almost 1 million over the past 12 months). Average hourly earnings ticked up 5 cents to $24.38/hour.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The EEOC has asked for public comments to its proposed revised management directive in federal sector proceedings. The EEOC acts as an adjudicator for federal sector claims. From the press release,
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that it is seeking public comment on significant revisions to Management Directive 110 (MD-110), which provides federal agencies with EEO policies, procedures and guidance related to the newly revised 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 (federal sector EEO regulations). The full text of the proposed revisions is available on the Regulation.gov website at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EEOC-2014-0001.
These revisions represent the first major changes to MD-110 since 1999; they can be categorized into three areas:
- Implementation of Revised Regulations:
- new procedures for agencies to submit, and the EEOC to approve, requests to conduct pilot projects for processing complaints in ways other than those prescribed in Part 1614;
- revised procedure making an administrative judge's decision on the merits of a class complaint a final decision;
- a new compliance section;
- updated retaliation language in the dismissal section;
- notice to complainant when an agency is untimely in completing an investigation; and
- information on digital filings of appeals and complaint files.
- Conflict of Interest:
- addressing EEO director reporting relationship;
- EEO and HR conflicts;
- complaint processing of matters involving EEO officials or high-level agency officials; and
- conflicts between agency legal and EEO programs.
- General Updates & Clarification:
- revisions to the remainder of MD-110 to reflect current policies, procedures, laws and case precedents.
These revisions are a part of the EEOC's ongoing efforts to improve the federal sector process. The agency encourages interested parties to review these proposed changes and provide feedback for EEOC consideration. The agency specifically urges stakeholders to provide feedback on the conflict-of-interest section, as this is the EEOC's first attempt to provide clarity in this area, and stakeholder input will be valuable in determining the final approach.
Public comments on revisions to MD-110 should be provided through Regulation.gov (http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EEOC-2014-0001) no later than April 25, 2014 for appropriate consideration.
Further information about EEOC is available on its website www.eeoc.gov. The EEOC's Office of Federal Operations also maintains a Twitter handle @EEOC_OFO for general news and information updates.
Friday, August 2, 2013
The Department of Labor released the July employment report. There were 162,000 jobs added and the unemployment rate is down a bit to 7.4%. Previous months' number were revised downward: May from 195,000 to 176,000 new jobs and June from 195,000 to 188,000. Basically, more of the same, as the news is good, but not great.
Friday, June 7, 2013
- Among the reasons for my needing to do a quick roundup is preparations for two summer conferences:
1. The inagural Labour Law Research Network (LLRN) conference in Barcelona next week. The program looks great, present company notwithstanding.
2. The annual Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) conference, Aug. 4-10 in West Palm Beach (and to all those who are thinking boondoggle--yes, it's in a nice place, but we take over an entire Southern Florida hotel in August and, as a result, get incredibly cheap rates). As has been the case for the last several years--primarily due to the work of Michael Green and Paul Secunda--there are numerous labor and employment panels (by my count, six panels with a primary L&E focus, plus many more related). One new feature this year at SEALS is a "New Voices" series that involves a call for papers from scholars with five years or less experience to discuss works-in-progress with more senior faculty--we have a L&E New Voices panel with several great-looking papers.
- The May unemployment numbers are in: 175,000 new jobs, with an 7.6% unemployment rate (up from 7.5% the month before). The numbers look OK--a bit better than projected--and there seems to be a slight decrease in discouraged workers.
- In a case in which Connecticut state employees challenged their dismissal, the Second Cir. granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, holding that the layoffs targeted union members. According to the court, this violated their First Amendment right to association and, in doing so, applied strict scrutiny. Given that the standard for these cases has been a mess of late, expect a cert. petition and a decent likelihood of it being granted.
- An employer recently settled charges that it fired two workers, and sued one of them, for filing charges with the NLRB. In addition to paying $315,000, the employer agreed to drop the suit, rescind a wage-gag rule, and stop paying an attorney to represent employees in a coercive manner (the attorney claimed to represent the employees--allegedly via coercion--and required all contact with employees to go to him first. Even by labor law standards, that's some pretty agressive action.
- An update on the cert. petition and amicus briefs for Noel Canning. The conference is set for June 20. My favorite quote from the Washington Post article:
“This stuff is catnip for law nerds,” Washington lawyer John P. Elwood wrote in a post on the legal blog the Volokh Conspiracy — which, it should be said, is itself catnip for law nerds.
- Speaking of the dysfunctional state of NLRB appointments, former member Peter Hurtgen suggests a temporary compromise of having only two Democratic and two Republic members. I admire Hurtgen, but I'm not sure that having the White House give up its normal prerogative to have a majority on the NLRB solves anything--seems like it simply gives the minority party more incentive to block nominations.
- Also, in NLRB news--the Board refused to adopt the General Counsel's suggestion to change the Spielberg/Olin arbitration deferral standards. The GC wanted more limited deferral, to occur only when it is shown that the arbitrator adequately considered the statutory rights at issue. Not entirely clear why the NLRB didn't agree, but it shows that descriptions of the NLRB as being a hack for union interests isn't accurate.
- The Fourth Circuit recently issued a decision in a sexual harassment case in which the alleged harasser commited suicide after the accusation was made. The court affirmed summary judgment for the employer in yet another case that shows, in spite of popular opinion, how difficult it is to win sexual harassment claims.
Hat Tip: Jonathan Harkavy, Patrick Kavanagh, and others.
Friday, May 3, 2013
The Department of Labor released its April unemployment report today and, overall, it was a good one. The unemploymetn rate went down a tenth of a percent, to 7.5% on an increase of 165,000 last month. The revised numbers for the past two months were also quite good, with an overall increase of 114,000 jobs. And the rate wentdown despite an additional 210,000 entering the job market last month. The job increases were also broadly spread out with only construction and government (yet again) showing job losses.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The EEOC has just issued its "African American Workgroup Report," which paints a picture of the many obstacles faced by black federal workers. The report is organized around seven main obstacles, with background information and recommendations for each. The obstacles:
- Unconscious biases and perceptions about African Americans still play a significant role in employment decisions in the federal sector.
- African Americans lack adequate mentoring and networking opportunities for higher level and management positions.
- Insufficient training and development assignments perpetuate inequalities in skills and opportunities for African Americans.
- Narrow recruitment methods negatively impact African Americans.
- The perception of widespread inequality among African Americans in the federal workforce hinders their career advancement.
- Educational requirements create obstacles for African Americans in the federal workforce.
- EEO regulations and laws are not adequately followed by agencies and are not effectively enforced.
You can also read the Washington Post's take on the report here.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Today, the Department of Labor released its February employment numbers and (I'm not sure the last time I wrote this) they were quite good. The headline figures: 236,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate down .2 of a percent to 7.7%. Revisions of the previous two months' new jobs' numbers were down by a total of 15,000 jobs, leading to an average monthly job gain over the past three months of 195,000. Average earnings ticked up a few cents this month, with gains over the past year at 2.1%. Also, the construction industry was one of the biggest job gainers, perhaps indicating that the housing industry is finally back.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
And for some reform links, from the add paid leave camp: National Partnership for Women and Families Agenda for the 113th Congress. And from the reform abuse of leave camp: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Absence abuse and Medical Leave.
Friday, February 1, 2013
The Department of Labor issued its January employment data today. The big numbers: 157,000 jobs added, with the unemployment rate at 7.9% (from 7.8% the previous month). But perhaps the more important figures from the report were revisions in previous months' data, with significant uptick. The DOL revised its November data to show that 247,000 jobs were added in that month and 296,000 jobs in December--an additional 127,000 jobs than initially reported in those two months. Most sectors saw job gains, with one of the exceptions being public-sector jobs, which continues to be a drag on employment. The number of discouraged workers also dropped by 255,000 in a non-seasonally adjusted comparison to last year. All in all, that's not bad, particularly the previous months' revisions.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The Department of Labor released its data on union density for 2012 and the news was not good for unions. Among the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your view): private sector membership dropped from 6.9% to 6.6%; public sector membership dropped from 37% to 35.9%; and the number of union members fell by 400,000, despite a 2.4 million increase in jobs. Moreover, both Wisconsin and Indiana saw huge drops following their anti-union legislation. Steven Greenhouse, at the New York Times, has a good article exploring those state issues as well as the overall trend.
For those of you interested in comparing the historical numbers and other breakouts of the data, I'll put a plug in for unionstats.com (full disclosure: my father is one of the authors), which provides a more user-friendly version of the DOL stats (it obviously hasn't been updated with the new numbers yet).
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are apparently going to announce tomorrow that they are lifting the ban on women serving in combat positions with a goal towards integration by 2016. In November, four servicemembers represented by the ACLU sued to lift the ban, arguing that women were already serving in most combat roles but just weren't getting recognized for it. Advancement to the highest levels of military service depends on service in combat.
This move comes via a recommendation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which earlier this month issued a "Women in Service Implementation Plan" calling for this change; that memo stated in part, "[t]he time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service."
For more information see the news stories here, here, here, and here. Mandatory regisration with the Selective Service Administration does not appear to be addressed by the recommendation; perhaps that is not widely enough seen to be a gender-based barrier to service.
This is a big step forward potentially for sex equality in the military, although full implementation will take some time. I hope that part of that implementation involves addressing the serious problem of sexual violence in the military as part of a comprehensive plan. I also think that the effect of this change in policy does a lot to expand women's rights more broadly in this country. To the extent that military service is one of the responsibilities of full citizenship, and I think most people agree that it is in at least some cirumstances, allowing women to serve the same way men do solidifies our claim to citizenship and authority to set national policy.
Friday, December 7, 2012
The Department of Labor released its November employment data today. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7% (from 7.9%), with 146,000 jobs added. However, some of the drop in unemploymetn appears to be because of people not looking for work. The previous two months' gains were revised downward by 49,000 jobs. Basically, we remain in a slow and steady improvement.
Friday, November 2, 2012
In case you hadn't heard, the Department of Labor released its October employment figures today. Overall, it was better than expected. Job gains were estimated at 171,000 and the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point to 7.9%; the unemployment rate is largely viewed as positive because of the increase in people looking for work. Perhaps more important were revisions to the previous months, which were revised up by a total of 64,000 jobs. The trend lately of upward revisions suggests that there may be continual improvement in the labor market as the early job estimates are unable to fully capture th eincrease in jobs. But we'll have to see if it keeps up.
Friday, October 5, 2012
If you've managed to find your way to this post, you've no doubt already seen that the unemployment rate dipped fell below the 8% psychological barrier to 7.8% (from 8.1% the previous month). This does not appear to the result of a people falling out of the job market. According to the Department of Labor, 114,00 jobs were added in September and modest wage increases were seen. Moreover, for the first time in long time, government payrolls actually increased. And, perhaps most significant, the two previous months' job gains were revised upward by 88,000 jobs.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Jon Shimabukuro and Paige Whitaker, both legislative attorneys for the Congressional Research Service, have posted online Whistleblower Protections Under Federal Law: An Overview. Here's the abstract:
Legal protections for employees who report illegal misconduct by their employers have increased dramatically since the late 1970s when such protections were first adopted for federal employees in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. Since that time, with the enactment of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Congress has expanded such protections for federal employees. Congress has also established whistleblower protections for individuals in certain private-sector employment through the adoption of whistleblower provisions in at least 18 federal statutes. Among these statutes is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act).
In general, claims for relief under the 18 federal statutes follow a similar pattern. Complaints are typically filed with the Secretary of Labor, and an investigation is conducted. Following the investigation, an order is issued by the Secretary, and a party aggrieved by the order is generally permitted to appeal the Secretary’s order to a federal court. However, because 18 different statutes are involved in prescribing whistleblower protections, some notable differences exist. For example, under the Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1987, individuals employed by defense contractors who engage in whistleblowing activities file complaints with the Inspector General rather than the Secretary of Labor. Under some of the statutes, including the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, the Secretary’s preliminary order will become a final order if no objections are filed within a prescribed time period.
This report provides an overview of key aspects of the 18 selected federal statutes applicable to individuals in certain private-sector industries. It focuses on the protections provided to employees who believe they have been subject to retaliation, rather than on how or where alleged misconduct should be disclosed. In addition, the report also includes an overview of the Whistleblower Protection Act. While state law may also provide whistleblower protections for employees, this report focuses only on the aforementioned federal statutory provisions.
Hat tip: Carol Furnish.
Friday, September 7, 2012
The Department of Labor released its employment data for August today and it was more of the same--not awful, but not good either. There were 96,000 jobs added the last month; 103,000 jobs in the private sector and 7,000 less government jobs. The two previous months were revised downward by about 20,000 jobs a month. Given the number of people dropping out of the labor market, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3% to 8.1%.
This may spur the Federal Reserve to take more aggressive actions, but we'll see . . . .
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released for public comment a draft of its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). Comments must be submitted by 5:00 pm ET on September 18, 2012 at firstname.lastname@example.org or received by mail at Executive Officer, Office of the Executive Secretariat, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 131 M Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20507. The Commission plans to vote on the draft plan at the end of this fiscal year.
. . .
For general inquiries about the plan, please email email@example.com or call (202) 663-4070/(TTY: 202-663-4494). For press inquiries, please contact the Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs at (202) 663-4191 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are seeking EEOC information, please call (202) 663-4900 or email@example.com. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
And I got word of this from Commissioner Feldblum's twitter feed. If you don't follow her, you should: @chaifeldblum.
Friday, August 3, 2012
The Department of Labor just released its July employment data. The numbers are still mediocre, but showed an improvement from the last few months. There were 163,000 jobs added in July (compared to a revised 64,000 in June). But because of growth in the labor market, the unemployment rate went up by a tenth of a point to 8.3%.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
As many of you have probably already seen, the Department of Labor released its June employment data on Friday. Things are still muddling on, with an addition of 80,000 jobs and the unemployment rate steady at 8.2%. The average hours per workweek increased slightly, as did hourly pay. In other words, not much change from the previous month.
Friday, June 1, 2012
The Department of Labor's May unemployment numbers are out, and they're disappointing. Employment increased by a net 69,000 jobs, with the rate ticking up a tenth of a point to 8.1%. Last months job gaines were revised from 115,000 to 77,000. This seems to be a replay of the Spring-Summer unemployment blues we've seen the last few years. Health care and transportation/warehousing saw the biggest job gains, with construction showing the biggest losses. But overall, there wasn't much significant change in any of the numbers. Therefore, it's the disappointment that the labor market isn't picking up steam that's the real problem.