Category Archives: Labor Laws/Legislation

The Wage Gap, State by State

Source: National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), April 2014

Families depend on women’s wages more than ever, but the typical woman working full time, year round is paid less than the typical full-time, year-round male worker. These disparities exist in every state. However, as indicated in the map below, the size of the disparity varies by state. Additionally, women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers — and full-time, year-round work at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour leaves a woman with two children thousands of dollars below the poverty line. Working to close the wage gap and increasing the minimum wage are key steps towards fair pay for women.

Read our fact sheets on the state-by-state wage gaps for African-American women, Hispanic women, and women overall:
The Wage Gap By State for Women Overall
The Wage Gap By State for African-American Women
The Wage Gap By State for Hispanic Women
The Wage Gap by State for Women Overall, African-American Women, and Hispanic Women (Combined)

Click on a state below to see its wage gap for women overall, African American women, and Hispanic women, as well as the state’s minimum wage.

Combating Punitive Pay Secrecy Policies
Source: National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Fact Sheet, April 2012

What Does Social Equality Require of Employers? A Response to Professor Bagenstos

Source: Brishen Rogers, Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-09, March 17, 2014

From the abstract:
In response to Samuel Bagenstos’ recent article “Employment Law and Social Equality,” this short essay considers the relationship between social equality and other aspects of individual employment law, including minimum wage laws and regulations on employer control of employee political speech. It also asks whether social equality may provide a consistent normative foundation for all three sub-fields of work law, namely labor law, employment discrimination, and individual employment law.

Justice at Work: Minimum Wage Laws and Social Equality

Source: Brishen Rogers, Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-08, March 17, 2014

From the abstract:
This article develops a new normative defense of minimum wage laws. Existing legal academic debate on such laws revolves around how well they deliver resources to the working poor compared to transfer programs such as wage subsidies, negative income taxes, and unconditional basic income programs. Transfers have advantages as mechanisms of redistribution: they target the working poor rather than all workers, and they do not increase involuntary unemployment. Because of such advantages, legal scholars have criticized minimum wage laws both on utilitarian grounds of welfare maximization and on egalitarian liberal grounds of fairness toward society’s worst-off.

Accepting for the sake of argument that minimum wage laws tend to increase unemployment, this article nevertheless defends them on grounds of justice. It argues that a just state will not simply redistribute resources, but will also enable citizens to relate to one another as equals. Minimum wage laws advance this ideal of “social equality” in several ways: they increase the proportion of resources captured by low-wage workers as a group; they incentivize higher value-added production strategies by discouraging the use of extremely low-wage labor; and they alter power relationships between employees and employers. Transfers are generally less effective on each front. Transfers and minimum wages are therefore complementary means of ensuring justice for low-wage workers.

Terminations While on Family and Medical Leave: Risky but Potentially Defensible

Source: Kelly Collins Woodford, Marjorie L. Icenogle, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 65 no. 1, Spring 2014
(subscription required)

Employment attorneys and human resource professionals across the country have had “the call;” the call from a client who has hired a temporary replacement for Joe, an employee on Family and Medical Leave and, you guessed it, the client liked the replacement better. “Things are working a lot better around here without him; can I fire Joe?” the desperate caller wails. “Sure, if you want to get sued” comes the usual reply. But the strategic thinking client then retorts: “can we win?” There was a time when most employment professionals would have answered “probably not.” Decisions from the Seventh Circuit suggest those times are changing….

When a Public Employer Doesn’t like What Its Employees “Like”: Social Media and the First Amendment

Source: Tanya M. Marcum, Sandra J. Perry, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 65 no. 1, Spring 2014
(subscription required)

Today, many new social media forums exist including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, in which individuals can express their thoughts and opinions in many different ways. Although the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides the basic fundamental right to free speech, it is not an absolute right to free speech of any and all kinds. This is particularly true for public employees and their speech protections. When a citizen accepts employment in the government sector, that citizen may experience, due to governmental necessity, certain limitations on his or her free speech rights. This article explores these free speech limitations on a public employee’s speech and its potential impact on public employees’ use of new social media….

Tribal Disruption and Labor Relations

Source: Matthew L. M. Fletcher, Kathryn Fort, Wenona T. Singel, Michigan State University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-2, February 26, 2014

From the abstract:
In recent years, Indian tribes have begun to assert treaty rights to govern labor relations within the reservation, most notably in Indian gaming operations. The National Labor Relations Board and several national labor unions have asserted, with a large degree of success, that the National Labor Relations Act governs labor relations in tribal casinos.

This paper addresses several aspects of the tribal-federal-labor relationship through the lens of tribal disruption theory. Professor Wenona Singel has argued, drawing from institutional economics theory, that labor relations law and policy is static, with unions and the NLRB preferring to rely upon Great Depression-era federal law to decide labor disputes arising in Indian country – not because federal law is substantively preferable to tribal law, but because it is known and predictable. These actors reject tribal labor relations legal regimes despite the possibility that tribal law may be substantively preferable to all parties.

Tribal disruption theory offers an alternative view of how to resolve these ongoing labor disputes, one preferable to the uncertain and high stakes litigation.

Sure, Bigwigs Want Labor Rights—But Only for Themselves

Source: David Sirota, In These Times, April 24, 2014

What do Apple, the NCAA and Tennessee Republicans all have in common? …

….Taken together, the argument seems to be that the rich and politically powerful should be permitted to collude to preserve their wealth and power. Meanwhile, the less rich and less politically powerful must be prevented from exercising their most basic rights to collective action.

The problems with such a twisted ideology should be obvious. For one thing, there’s the sheer hypocrisy of insinuating that the ruling class has a right to stand in solidarity with each other, but everyone else should be prevented from exercising similar rights. Additionally, the argument posits that the real problem in an America plagued by economic inequality is that workers have too much power and the ruling class has too little—not vice versa.

But perhaps worst of all is what all this says about the most basic notions of how our market economy now operates. ….

Our Inequality: An Introduction

Source: Colin Gordon, Dissent, March 6, 2014

This series is adapted from Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality, a resource developed for the Project on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies and It is presented in nine parts. This introduction lays out the basic dimensions of American inequality and interrogates the usual explanatory suspects. The next eight parts will develop a political explanation for American inequality, looking in turn at labor relations, the minimum wage and labor standards, job-based benefits, social policy, taxes, financialization, executive pay, and macroeconomic policy.

Articles include:
· The Union Difference: Labor and American Inequality
· The Bare Minimum: Labor Standards and American Inequality
· The Perils of Private Welfare: Job-Based Benefits and American Inequality
· A Tattered Safety Net: Social Policy and American Inequality

Captive Audience Meetings: A Backgrounder

Source: Jessica Harris, On Labor blog, April 2, 2014

A video produced by Target for use during captive audience meetings was leaked last month. The video warns employees, “If Target faced rigid union contracts like some of our competitors, our ability to serve our guests could suffer dramatically – and with fewer guests, what happens to our team?” It added that if a union were elected, “chances are [it] would change our fast, fun and friendly culture, with their way of doing business.” The video closes with the words: “Refuse to sign, and keep Target union free.”

While the publicity the Target video has received is unusual, the content of the video is not. A 2009 study by the Economic Policy Institute found that employers held captive audience meetings in 89% of union election campaigns between 1999 and 2003. The average employer held 10.4 meetings during the course of an election campaign. Moreover, the effect of the meetings was not negligible. Whereas the union win rate in elections in which captive audience meetings were not utilized was 73%, that figure dropped to 47% when management employed mandatory meetings.

This backgrounder explores the legal context in which these meetings are held and discusses some recent proposals to ban captive audience meetings.