On April 8, 2014, President Obama signed the Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information into law. This executive order prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their wages and salaries, but even if you don't work for the government, it's part of a trend that could affect your working life.
Some of the legal decisions that were made in 2015 didn't do much to help workers. For example, Wisconsin was added to the list of Right-to-Work states this year. Many feel that these laws, which change how unions collect fees from the workers they represent, hurt unions and the middle class. In other disappointing news, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Integrity Staffing Solutions vs. Busk case, mandating that companies are not required to compensate workers for the time they spend in security-screening at the end of their shifts – or for any task that's not an "integral and indispensable" part of their job, for that matter. But thankfully, the legal news for workers wasn't all bad this past year. So, let's focus on the good, shall we?
There are rules governing whether employers may classify workers as employees or independent contractors. Sometimes people are hired (or contracted) as one type of worker, when their work fits the definition of the other. Here is how you can tell if your legal status matches the work you do.
The laws protecting pregnant women at work are getting stronger, but some workers are still being discriminated against. Know your rights so you can stand up for yourself before you are taken advantage of or subjected to illegal treatment.
The restaurant industry has a unique business model. Rather than business owners budgeting to pay employees, restaurant owners depend upon customers "voluntarily" giving waitresses and waiters tips in return for "good service." That pay structure can lead to a dangerously imbalanced power dynamic between customer and waiter. No wonder, then, that a recent report from Restaurant Opportunities Center United found that two-thirds of female employees in the food service industry have been sexually harassed. In fact, 37 percent of Employment Opportunity Commission harassment claims come from women in the restaurant business.
Seattle's new minimum wage of $15 per hour is more than twice the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Some say businesses will suffer and employers will be unable to hire workers. Franchise owners in Seattle have an additional gripe: many are claiming that franchises are unfairly grouped under the umbrella of large businesses.
If you need a job making $15 to $20 per hour, would you apply at Wal-Mart? If you live in Williston, North Dakota, you just might. The very fact that a company known for underpaying its workers is offering such wages has started some interesting conversations about minimum wage.
Some states offer new parents and families additional protections in the workplace, on top of federal protections. Many, however, do not. How does your state stack up?
Currently, there is no federal law protecting gays and lesbians against discrimination. Twenty-one states have enacted such protections, but in the remaining 29 states, employers may, for example, fire an employee for being gay.
There are a handful of laws on the books protecting workers from being discriminated against due to their age. However, not everyone is protected. Are you?