- Politicians interfere with a complex industry they don’t understand: when the $15 minimum wage came to New York car washes [Jim Epstein, Reason: article, 13:32 video]
- “D.C. Repeals a Minimum Wage Hike That Restaurant Workers Didn’t Want” [Eric Boehm, Reason] “Tipping lawsuit leads popular Salem restaurant to declare bankruptcy” [Dan Casey, Roanoke Times]
- Challenging a premise: “Why a federal minimum wage?” [Scott Sumner] “Pew Map Shows One Reason a National $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Work” [Joe Setyon, Reason]
- New evidence on effects of Seattle $15 minimum: benefits go to workers with relatively high experience, “8% reduction in job turnover rates as well as a significant reduction in the rate of new entries into the workforce.” [NBER] “Minimum wage hike in Venezuela shuts stores, wipes out many jobs” [Hans Bader]
- “Ontario labour minister’s office vandalized after minimum wage cap announced” [Canadian Press, CBC background of Ford provincial government rollback of Wynne-era labor measures]
- DoL plans new rules on joint-employer definition [Jaclyn Diaz, Bloomberg; Alex Passantino, Seyfarth Shaw, earlier]
- Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna introduce legislation to punish employers whose workforce draws on government programs, and even lefty Center for Budget and Policy Priorities sees plenty of problems with that [Steve Goldstein/MarketWatch; Robert Greenstein, Sharon Parrott, Chye-Ching Huang, CBPP; Zuri Davis, Reason; related Ryan Bourne thread]
- “Prevailing Wage Legislation and the Continuing Significance of Race” [David E. Bernstein, Notre Dame Journal on Legislation]
- Study finds that after Minnesota jacked up minimum wage, youth employment and restaurant employment fell, restaurant prices rose [Noah Williams, Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy]
- In a sleeper SCOTUS case this term, Encino Motorcars v. Navarro, on whether service advisors at car dealerships are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Justice Thomas for a 5-4 majority came down in favor of the position that FLSA exemptions should be read fairly, rather than narrowly; let’s hope this points to a wider retreat from the unsound practice of reading unnatural breadth into purportedly remedial statutes even when they contain no instruction to do so [Federalist Society podcast with Tammy McCutchen; Sachin Pandya/Workplace Prof (critical of ruling), Andrew Strom/On Labor (likewise)]
- “Why a Democratic City Council Is Working With a Republican Congress To Overturn a Minimum Wage Bill” [Eric Boehm on D.C.’s Initiative 77] “How Regulation Eliminated Your Waiter” [Ira Stoll on California labor laws]
- 1915 study on Oregon: “The belief was very prevalent among store women that the minimum wage had wrought only harm to them as a whole.” [David Henderson quoting Marie L. Obenauer and Bertha von der Nienburg, Bureau of Labor Statistics]
- Lancaster, Calif. Mayor R. Rex Parris proposes that city ban employers from requiring male employees to wear neckties [Laura Newberry, L.A. Times]
- Reasons to settle employment-law claims: “It’s Not the Damages, It’s the Attorneys’ Fees” [Daniel Schwartz]
- “Court Ruling Casts Constitutional Doubt on State and City Salary-Inquiry Bans” [Marc Dib, WLF; related here, here]
- I’m quoted hailing Supreme Court ruling on workplace arbitration [Jeff John Roberts, Fortune]
- Federal labor regulators versus local food truck operators [Ira Stoll]
- “What is happening to French labor law?” [Tristan Bird, On Labor]
- Sens. Marco Rubio, Elizabeth Warren team up on federal bill to curb practice of yanking occupational licenses over unpaid student debt [Eric Boehm] “Pennsylvania’s Governor Calls for Abolishing 13 Occupational Licenses” [same] Licensing reform generally hasn’t been a partisan battle, but party-line vote in California legislative committee has derailed one promising bill [same] Nebraska gets out in front on the issue with a bill sponsored by libertarian state senator Laura Ebke [Platte Institute] “You Shouldn’t Need a License to Braid Hair” [Ilya Shapiro and Aaron Barnes on Cato amicus brief in Niang v. Tomblinson]
- Alone among states, California requires a “mandatory mediation and conciliation process” for agricultural employers. Arbitrary and open to constitutional challenge [Ilya Shapiro and Reilly Stephens on Cato amicus brief for California Supreme Court certiorari in Gerewan Farming Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board]
- “Lawsuits that compel sharing economy companies to treat their contractors as full-fledged employees will only forestall the inevitable transition towards a Tomorrow 3.0 economy.” [Pamela Hobart, Libertarianism.org reviewing Michael Munger’s new book “Tomorrow 3.0”] Plaintiffs in California Supreme Court ruling: “Uber Drivers Just Killed All the Parts of the Job They Supposedly Liked the Most” [Coyote]
- Or maybe the gig economy isn’t taking over after all [Ben Casselman, New York Times; Ben Gitis and Will Rinehart, American Action Forum, on new Bureau of Labor Statistics survey finding that prevalence of contingent work has declined, not risen, since 2005]
- “Original Meaning Should Decide Arbitration Act Case on Independent Contractors” [Andrew Grossman and Ilya Shapiro on Cato amicus in Supreme Court case of New Prime v. Oliviera]
- “Disability rates among working-age adults are shaped by race, place, and education” [Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman, Brookings]
Yesterday’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding agreements to individually arbitrate wage-and-hour claims was neither surprising nor novel as a legal matter. Nor – notwithstanding the variously breathless, furious, and apocalyptic reactions it has drawn from stage Left – is it objectionable as a matter of policy, or “anti-worker.” It is pro-liberty, pro-contract, and pro-respect for private ordering….
NPR, which really should know better, misreported on Twitter that “The Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote has delivered a major blow to workers, ruling for the first time that workers may not band together to challenge violations of federal labor laws,” of which the first eight words count as accurate reporting, the next half-dozen as erroneous opinion, and the remainder as merely false in fact….
…an oft-heard argument is that a contract presented as a take-it-or-leave-it matter, as is typical of employer handbook policies, credit card terms and the like, doesn’t count as a “real” contract and is entitled to no respect as a matter or law or, presumably, from libertarians. … Properly evaluating that claim is a task for another occasion, but my colleague Andrew Grossman is surely right when he points out that every hour of the day workers choose to accept overall employment packages including some terms they welcome (health insurance coverage, paid vacations) along with others they may not (some weekend hours required, don’t take staplers home) and that the lack of dickering over individual terms does not mean that they are not voluntary or have somehow been imposed by force.
Whole thing here. As I wrote after Italian Colors, millions of people “sign away their class action rights not because they are all hoodwinked or coerced, but because at some level they have rational grounds to recognize that” those rights are mostly of value to the class action industry.
Speaking of Italian Colors, the outcome in Epic Systems would surely have been no different had Scalia lived, since he led the way on the Court toward respecting contractual arbitration clauses and upholding the broad scope of the Federal Arbitration Act. More from Archis Parasharami and Dan Jones at SCOTUSBlog: “The best available empirical evidence shows that employees who arbitrate their claims are more likely to prevail than those who go to court, and to obtain awards that are the same as or larger than court awards in a shorter amount of time.” More: James Copland.
- California Supreme Court ruling on employee classification (Dynamex) expected to deal blow to gig economy [TaxProf, Bloomberg Daily Labor Report]
- Attorney fee request shows part of what’s wrong with Fair Labor Standards Act [Jon Hyman]
- Ninth Circuit: offshore platform workers entitled to hourly pay for 24 hours/day, including time sleeping [WLF on Newton v. Parker Drilling Management Services, Inc.]
- Employees, too: “D.C. gay bars launch campaign against ‘tipped wage’ measure” [Lou Chibbaro, Jr., Washington Blade]
- Study of restaurant employment: “Industry Dynamics and the Minimum Wage” [Daniel Aaronson, Eric French, Isaac Sorkin, & Ted To, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy] The “empirical evidence on the effect on minimum wages on employment is mixed. The empirical evidence on the effect of minimum wages on prices is pretty clear—it raises prices.” [Scott Sumner]
- Carceral progressivism: “Rethinking wage theft criminalization” [Ben Levin/On Labor, Terri Gerstein and David Seligman response, rejoinder]
A church outside Akron, Ohio, ran a cafeteria open to the public in which much of the labor was provided free by volunteer members of the congregation. The U.S. Department of Labor sued it on the grounds that it violates the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for an enterprise, church or otherwise, to use volunteer unpaid labor in a commercial setting. A trial court agreed, but now the Sixth Circuit has reversed and remanded, pointing out that “to be considered an employee within the meaning of the FLSA, a worker must first expect to receive compensation.”
Judge Raymond Kethledge, writing in concurrence, takes issue with the Department of Labor’s argument that the cafeteria volunteers count as employees because “their pastor spiritually ‘coerced’ them to work there. That argument’s premise — namely, that the Labor Act authorizes the Department to regulate the spiritual dialogue between pastor and congregation — assumes a power whose use would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.” Kethledge also points out that as “the record makes clear, the Buffet’s purpose was to allow the church’s members to proselytize among local residents who dined there,” and that along with its congregant volunteers the establishment “had 35 full-time paid employees — all of whom, incidentally, have lost their jobs as a result of this lawsuit.” [Acosta v. Cathedral Buffet et al. via Ted Frank on Twitter]
More: cross-posted, slightly expanded, at Cato.
- “The biggest question from Friday’s disappointing Canadian employment report is how much can be traced to Ontario’s sharp minimum wage increase last month.” [Theophilos Argitis and Erik Hertzberg, Bloomberg] Decline in teen employment in US since 2000 was sharpest for those age 16–17, examining some reasons [David Neumark and Cortnie Shupe, Mercatus Working Paper via Connor Wolf, Inside Sources]
- “Will D.C. End Tipping?” [Thomas Firey, Cato] “I’m your bartender. I don’t want a raise.” [Ryan Aston, Washington Post] Hollywood campaign isn’t helping [Wendyll Caisse, Inside Sources on Restaurant Opportunities Center vs. Restaurant Workers of America]
- If freedom of contract had been respected, whole debate would look different to begin with: “A Colorado Minimum Wage Waiver?” [Ryan Bourne, Cato]
- Federal regulatory role: “Will Restaurants Steal Employees’ Tips if the Feds Let Them?” [Robert Verbruggen, NRO]
- Seyfarth Shaw survey: while employers beat more wage/hour cases at the certification stage in 2017, overall class action payouts in workplace class actions continued to soar [Glenn Minnis, Cook County Record]
- “If You Don’t Want To Tip 15%, An NYC Lawyer Will Help You Sue Applebee’s” [Angela Underwood, Legal Newsline]