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]
Trying, they said, to be responsible employers, a group of Los Angeles restaurants banded together and adopted a 3 percent surcharge on bills to help secure healthcare coverage for their employees. Now San Francisco attorney Daniel Sterrett — who does not deny that the surcharge is going toward the announced purpose of employee healthcare — has filed an intended class-action lawsuit saying the owners have violated California law against price-fixing. [CBS Los Angeles, ABA Journal]
A rejoinder worth reading on labor markets by George Mason economist Bryan Caplan to the pseudonymous “Scott Alexander,” who writes the popular Slate Star Codex blog [Caplan first, second, third posts, all responding to this critique-of-libertarianism FAQ] If you don’t read Alexander, some of his top posts are here (especially strong on questions of medicine/health care and the way social justice language has developed into a tool of power). Also check out his recent post on the Daraprim mess and the wider failure of generic drug regulation [earlier on which].
- “No unpaid internship in the for-profit sector ever has or ever will satisfy these [USDOL] rules” [Bryan Caplan]
- Obama wage/hour czar David Weil doubles as a key ideologist of the kill-outsourcing crowd [Weekly Standard, related earlier on NLRB move against franchise and subcontract economy]
- “A $15-hour minimum wage could harm America’s poorest workers” [Harry Holzer, Brookings] Alderman Antonio French, a key Ferguson protest figure, opposes minimum wage hike in St. Louis [Washington Post “WonkBlog”]
- “Andrew Cuomo’s leftward lurch: Calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage is his latest out-of-character move” [Bill Hammond, NY Daily News] Since minimum wage hike, mini-recession has hit employment in Los Angeles hotel sector [Ozimek]
- Court ruling: Yelp reviewers volunteer their reviews and are not entitled to be paid for them [Courthouse News]
- 400 Uber drivers: don’t let them take away our independent contractor status [Daniel Fisher, Forbes] Mandated benefits and the “Happy Meal Fallacy” [Tabarrok]
- “Bill Would Make Maryland Employers Set Work Schedules Earlier” [WAMU on Del. David Moon’s “Fair Work Week Act”; related on national “Schedules That Work” Democratic legislation, Connor Wolf/Daily Caller]
In a long-feared ruling, the Obama National Labor Relations Board has ruled that a company that employs subcontractors or engages in franchising can over a wide range of situations be deemed a “joint employer” for purposes of liability for labor law violations and obligation to bargain over wages and working conditions with subcontractors’ or franchisees’ work forces. The decision imperils many of the most successful business models on the American economic scene. I’ve got a write-up at Cato observing that the ruling is likely to wreak havoc with, among many other sector, Silicon Valley and sharing-economy launches and asking “One wonders whether many of the smart New Economy people who bought into the Obama administration’s promises really knew what they were buying.”
More coverage of the NLRB’s Browning-Ferris ruling: Reuters (quotes me on the not-bright prospects for Hill action); Seyfarth Shaw; Tim Devaney, The Hill; “Good week to change name of NLRB to National Labor Resuscitation Board.” [Jonathan Segal] And, from standpoints supportive of the ruling, Al-Jazeera and Prof. Catherine Fisk/On Labor.
P.S.: At the Weekly Standard, Andrew B. Wilson notes that Obama wage/hour czar David Weil doubles as a key ideologist of the kill-outsourcing crowd.
- “The employees ran away and refused to talk to us…Even if we’re there to help them.” [NYT cheers New York nail salon raids, earlier on paper’s crusade against the salons]
- And now, the Times’s campaign to damn the Amazon: “The Liberty To Work Under Tough Bosses” [John McGinnis]
- Rule by White House decree begins to rile its employer targets: “Defense Contractors to Obama: Enough With the Executive Orders” [Defense One]
- “Lawsuit Reform Alliance Estimates $200m in Additional Costs for LaGuardia Airport Project Due to the ‘Scaffold Law'” [its press release, earlier on law]
- “Mandated Paid Maternity Leave: A Bad Idea for Women” [Abigail Hall, Independent Institute via Alkon, related Peter Suderman on family leave mandates]
- Describing most public assistance programs to working families as subsidy for low-wage employers is “flatly wrong.” [Gary Burtless, Brookings, earlier on such claims, more from Tim Worstall (“McDonald’s Profits Are Not Subsidized By Welfare Payments To McDonald’s Employees”)]
- Wisconsin-style “Moral Monday” protests against North Carolina’s GOP administration have some familiar backing [News and Observer, more on phenomenon from John Locke Foundation]
“The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that BNY Mellon has agreed to pay $14.8 million to settle charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by providing valuable student internships to family members of foreign government officials affiliated with a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund.” [SEC press release, WSJ] The SEC said at least three offspring from influential families lacked “the requisite academic or professional credentials” for the internships and proved to be “less than exemplary employees.” [Business Insider] While publicly shaming the bank, the commission did not see fit to name the foreign country involved. Similar probes on intern hiring have been aimed at other big financial institutions including J.P. Morgan, accused of hiring the children of Chinese officials [Reuters]