I’ll be giving lunchtime talks at two law schools in Kansas next week, courtesy local chapters of the Federalist Society. On Monday I’ll visit Washburn University Law School in Topeka, where Prof. Joseph Mastrosimone will provide comment. And then on Tuesday I’ll speak at the University of Kansas School of Law in Lawrence. My topic at both campuses will be “A Libertarian Looks at Employment Law.” Come say hello!
- Are public subsidies to low-earning employees a subsidy to their employers, as Sen. Bernie Sanders claims? [Cato Daily Podcast with Ryan Bourne and Caleb Brown; Bourne in USA Today and National Review]
- “To Speak or Not to Speak, That Is Your Right: Janus v. AFSCME” [David F. Forte, Cato Supreme Court Review] From two critics of decision: “What Janus Got Right — and Wrong” [Will Baude and Eugene Volokh] “More on Suits against Unions for Janus Violations” [Will Baude] Earlier here, here, etc.
- On sexual harassment, social mores have changed; biology hasn’t [Suzanne Lucas, Law and Liberty]
- California’s criminal code is honeycombed with special exemptions for conduct carried on as part of labor activity [Edmund Pine, California Policy Center last year] Or at least make sure federal law does not provide it an artificial shield: “Congress Should Ban Union Violence” [Emily Top, Economics21; David Kendrick, Cato 1998]
- “Verizon employee leaves work early, prompting months long investigation, during which employees offered conflicting accounts of whether the employee’s departure was authorized. NLRB: All of which was a pretext to fire a union-supporting employee. D.C. Circuit: Nope. Companies can fire employees for being dishonest, and that’s all that happened here.” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit” on Cellco Partnership v. NLRB]
- “Workers affect worker safety too” [David Henderson]
Schemes like a government mandate of worker representation on corporate boards (an element of German “co-determination”) are not new, and scholars have studied their track record in Europe for years. In particular, they tend not to provide robust incentives for risk-taking and dynamism; that’s aside from their interference with the contractual liberty of all parties to adopt alternative governance methods agreed to by all parties. I talk with Cato’s Caleb Brown about that and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s other ideas for revamping how large companies are run. Earlier here and here.
“If forms of ‘digital addiction’ qualify as a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, then employees who suffer from it may be protected by the ADA.” Employers might then be obliged under federal law to enter the so-called interactive process to negotiate possible courses of action and accommodations with the affected employee, rather than lay down hard-and-fast rules for what sorts of conduct will result in termination. [Jon Hyman, Ohio Employer Law Blog]
- 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]
“Two city legislators on Tuesday are expected to announce legislation banning on-site workplace cafeterias in an effort to promote and support local restaurants.” The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, embracing the role of villains in an Ayn Rand novel, are backing the measure, sponsored by San Francisco supervisors Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin. The bill would be prospective only, so that while the famed in-house dining options at tech headquarters like Twitter’s could continue, new corporate arrivals would not be allowed to start anything similar. [Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, San Francisco Examiner]
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.
- “Three Bad Arguments for Government Paid Leave” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato]
- So much wrong with Bernie Sanders scheme of a guaranteed government job for everyone [Ryan Bourne, Cato] “This old socialist standby deserves to stay exactly where we left it — on the ash heap of history.” [Megan McArdle]
- NYC legislates “dues checkoff” payable to activist groups [Ruth McCambridge, Nonprofit Quarterly]
- “Ralph Lauren interns get next to nothing after winning lawsuit” [Julia Marsh, New York Post]
- Uh-oh: Ford Foundation funding Harvard Law School project to redesign U.S. labor law from ground up [Benjamin Sachs, On Labor]
- The federal law that forbids employers from ceasing to participate in union (multiemployer) pension plans unless they pay massive “withdrawal liability” including obligations of other employers is unjust and destructive. Now it’s playing havoc with the makers of Peeps confections [Damien Paletta, Washington Post/Lehigh Valley Live, related earlier]
Noting that Britain’s 2006 Noise at Work Regulations “recognize no distinction as between a factory and an opera house,” a British judge has approved the claim of a violist for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden who says he suffered hearing loss from the loudness of the close-by brass section during a rehearsal of Die Walküre, part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Damages are yet to be determined; he is seeking £750,000. [Mark Savage, BBC] The opera house argued that it had gone as far as a reasonable employer to reduce the risks of loudness, including issuing ear protection which he was using, and that his condition “had in fact been the result of his coincidentally developing Meniere’s disease at around the same time.” [Damien Gayle, Guardian] Earlier on the United Kingdom regulations on sound in the workplace here (police dogs’ barking, with links to many other posts), etc., and related here and here on European orchestra noise regs.
With a political push still under way for costly mandates on employers to provide paid family leave, there is interest in proposals for family leave based on borrowing from future Social Security benefits. Under a plan proposed by Kristin Shapiro of the Independent Women’s Forum, “new parents would agree to defer their collection of Social Security benefits upon retirement for the period of time necessary to offset the cost of their parental benefits.” Some critical commentary on the idea: Vanessa Brown Calder And Chris Edwards, Cato. A more favorable view: Ramesh Ponnuru.