Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

Social Media and the Workplace: Legal, Ethical, and Practical Considerations for Management

Source: Frank J. Cavico, Bahaudin G. Mujtaba, Stephen C. Muffler, Marissa Samuel, Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization, Vol. 12, 2013

From the abstract:
…Given the popularity, prevalence, sophistication, and ever-growing use of social media, it is no surprise that social media in an employment context raises many difficult, as well as novel, legal, ethical, and practical issues. This article, therefore, is a legal, ethical, and practical examination of social media in employment. The legal section of this article is a very substantive one where the authors extensively address the legal ramifications of social media in the private employment context. Statutory laws – federal and state, common law doctrines, as well as proposed federal and state laws, are examined to ascertain their applicability to social media policies and practices in employment. Case law, regulatory law, as well as legal and management commentary, are also examined to determine how a wide variety of laws apply, and could apply, to social media in the workplace. Case illustrations of legal principles being applied to social media workplace disputes as well as hypothetical examples are provided by the authors. As noted, the focus of this article is on the private employment context; however, the authors do briefly address some of the seminal federal constitutional issues that would arise in the public sector workplace. Even if a practice is legal, the question arises, or should arise, as to whether it is moral. Accordingly, the moral concerns regarding social media and the workplace will be addressed in this article through the application of several established ethical theories. The authors define, explicate, and apply these ethical theories to the subject matter of social media and employment to determine whether it is moral to use social media to make employment decisions. These ethical theories will be Ethical Egoism, Ethical Relativism, Utilitarianism, and Kant’s Categorical Imperative. Next, based on the aforementioned legal and ethical analysis, the authors discuss the practical implications for employers, managers, employees, and job applicants. The authors provide some succinct suggestions for employees and job applicants as to proper social media practices. The authors then make extensive recommendations for employers and managers on how to achieve certain business objectives but without violating the law or treating job applicants and employees in an immoral manner. The authors end their work with a brief summary and some concluding comments and observations. The authors, finally, as a sample in Appendix A, have included a company social media policy approved by the National Labor Relations Board.

What Do I Need to Vote? Bias in Information Provision by Local Election Officials

Source: Julie K. Faller, Noah L. Nathan and Ariel R. White, Harvard University, Preliminary draft, May 10, 2013

From the abstract:
The adoption of voter identification (ID) requirements has raised concerns that these laws differentially reduce turnout among minorities. We use a field experiment to investigate one mechanism by which these laws could reduce turnout: differential in- formation provision about voting requirements to minorities. We contact over 7,000 local election administrators in 48 states and observe that they provide different in- formation about ID requirements to voters of different putative ethnicities. Emails sent from Latino aliases are significantly less likely to receive any response from local election officials than non-Latino white aliases and receive responses of lower quality. This raises concerns about the effect of voter ID laws on access to the franchise and about bias in the provision of information by local bureaucrats more generally.

Registering Millions: Celebrating the Success and Potential of the National Voter Registration Act at 20

Source: J. Mijin Cha, Dēmos, May 2013

From the introduction:
…Since its adoption twenty years ago, the NVRA has successfully registered millions of eligible voters and led to important increases in voter registration among lower-income Americans. This brief highlights the key provisions in the act that were designed to expand voter registration opportunities, describes its impact on voter registration rates, and provides recommendations to ensure the act continues to expand voter registration opportunities for millions of Americans….

Mass Incarceration and Working Class Interests: Which Side Are the Unions On?

Source: James Kilgore, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 37 no. 4, December 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Since the early 1980s mass incarceration has become a critical fixture on the U.S. social landscape. Prison and jail populations have increased almost fivefold since 1980 with similar increments in the ranks of those under parole and probation. Historically many labor analysts and unions have regarded incarcerated people as an aberrant sector of the working class. Labels such as “lumpen proletariat,” “criminals,” and the “undeserving poor” have often been applied. In some instances, people doing poorly paid production work while incarcerated have been categorized as “scabs” who undermine hard won union gains. Such thinking is at odds with current realities, if it ever was appropriate. The recent patterns of criminalization have led to the imprisonment of significant swaths of working class people of color, largely the targets of the War on Drugs or anti-immigrant repression. Despite the fact that this racialized roundup now holds millions of workers captive, the process remains largely outside the scope of those concerned with labor and working class organization. Old stereotypes still keep “ex-convicts” and “felons” at the margins of labor organization and analysis. This article argues that unions and labor-oriented organizations need to oppose mass incarceration and adopt new strategies to incorporate a broad working class perspective in their approach to the criminal justice system. The author emphasizes that such an approach would compel unions to act in the interests of the broad working class, which at time may even be in conflict with the immediate interests of their members.

How Business Fares in the Supreme Court

Source: Lee Epstein, William M. Landes, and Richard A. Posner, Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 97 no. 4, April 2013

From the summary:
A number of scholars, journalists, and at least one member of Congress claim that the current Supreme Court (the “Roberts Court”) is more favorable to business than previous Supreme Courts have been. Other commentators disagree, while acknowledging that the Roberts Court is “less hostile to enterprise than the Warren Court” was; one of these commentators calls Wyeth v. Levine, a decision that business lost, “one of the most significant decisions of the Roberts Court.” An intermediate position is that it may be too soon to assess “the Roberts Court’s responsiveness to American business,” in part because the Court tends to agree with the positions taken by the Solicitor General of the United States, who during the first several years of the Roberts Court was the appointee of a Republican President and so tended to support business. The debate raises the larger issue, which we address in this Article along with the issue of the relative pro-business orientation of the Roberts Court, of the role of ideology in decisions of the Supreme Court, a focus of our recent book on judicial behavior, though the book does not emphasize business cases….

The Article is organized as follows. Part I describes the databases we use to study the Court’s business decisions. Part II uses these databases to study the pattern over time of the Court’s pro- and anti-business decisions, the ideological implications of the pattern, and, related to ideology, the correlation between coding decisions as conservative or liberal and coding them as business wins or business loses. Part III analyzes the voting behavior of the individual Justices, as distinct from the Court’s actual decisions. We rank the Justices in terms of how favorable or unfavorable they are toward business, and relate each Justice’s leaning for or against business to his preappointment ideology, the lower-court decision in the cases the Justice voted on, the federal government’s participation in the case, and the filing of amicus curiae briefs for or against business. The conclusion summarizes our findings.

Foreclosing on Incarceration? State Correctional Policy Enactments and the Great Recession

Source: Elizabeth K. Brown Criminal Justice Policy Review, Vol. 24 no. 3, May 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The economic collapse of 2008 has forced states to reconsider their priorities in punishment and corrections. States have exhibited a wide range of responses to the fiscal crisis. Using data from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), this article reviews briefly the types of correctional policies enacted by states in 2009. This research then evaluates quantitatively the relationships between state-level economic, political, and crime control conditions in 2009 and variable rates of state-level policy enactments in that same year that reduce reliance on incarceration. Findings from a cross-sectional negative binomial model suggest that three factors were associated with state enactments in 2009 that reduce reliance on incarceration: percentage of seats held by the Republican Party in state legislatures, amount of state revenue, and percentage of federal funds used for corrections expenditures.

School Safety Legislation Since Newtown

Source: Education Week, April 30, 2013

After the devastating school shootings in Newtown, Conn., in December, state lawmakers around the country vowed to act. The mission: Devise ways to prevent a similar tragedy.

They came up with hundreds of possible strategies.

An Education Week analysis of nearly 400 bills related to school safety filed in the days, weeks, and months after the deadliest K-12 school shooting in U.S. history found that legislators have proposed solutions that include arming teachers, adding guards or police officers, and shoring up the security of school buildings.

The bills included all have a direct link to education, or to the Newtown shootings. So while bills about magazine size and assault-weapon restrictions are included, those involving background checks for gun purchases are not, unless they also contained provisions related to schools. Where the same version of a bill was introduced in both legislative chambers, only one was counted….

Illegal immigration legislation: what it means for small government

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, April 24, 2013

…According to outline of the 844-page bill released Sunday, one way the federal government will help state and local officials offset the costs incurred from the nearly 12 million undocumented residents already living in the country would be thorough the utilization of competitive grant programs. These grants would help local governments offer integration services, including English language and civics classes, which would be necessary to help undocumented residents through the bill’s defined path to citizenship….According to the National League of [Cities], the bill would also reauthorize the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which, according to the Department of Justice’s website, would help offset the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens. The bill would also authorize new grants for communications equipment for state and local law enforcement officials charged with securing the U.S./Mexico border….
See also:
Senate Takes First Step Toward Immigration Overhaul, Long Road Ahead
Source: Leslie Wollack, National League of Cities, April 19, 2013

Poverty Scorecard 2012

Source: Shriver Center, March 2013

The Poverty Scorecard measures how every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted on what we have identified as the most significant poverty-related proposed legislation of 2012.

Key findings
• In 2012, Congress did virtually nothing to advance justice or opportunity for the 46 million people living in poverty in the U.S.
• While the significant poverty-related legislation voted on by Congress in 2012 spanned a wide range of subject areas, Congress passed only two pieces of significant poverty-related legislation, both of which were compromise measures related to extending tax cuts and credits and averting fiscal disaster.
• There were very few moderates in Congress in 2012. 95% of the Senators and 92% of the Representatives were at one extreme or the other, receiving a grade of A+ or A or D, F or F-. Only 5 Senators and 32 Representatives received a B or C grade.
• States with a lower poverty rate were more likely to have a Congressional delegation with a good recording in voting to fight poverty. 9 of the 10 states with A or A+ records had poverty rates below the national average of 15%.
• States with a higher poverty rate were more likely to have a Congressional delegation with a poor record in voting to fight poverty. 14 of the 20 states with D, F or F- records had poverty rates that were higher than the national average of 15%.
•There is at most only a very weak correlation between the poverty rate in a Congressional district and the voting record of the Member of the House of Representatives who represents that district.
See also:
Executive Summary
Bill Summaries
Voting Records by State
Summary Analysis
Infographic: What Are Our Representatives Doing About Poverty?

Survey of Federal Whistleblower and Anti-Retaliation Laws

Source: Jon O. Shimabukuro, L. Paige Whitaker, Emily E. Roberts, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, R43045, April 22, 2013

This report provides an overview of federal whistleblower and anti-retaliation laws. In general, these laws protect employees who report misconduct by their employers or who engage in various protected activities, such as participating in an investigation or filing a complaint. In recent years, Congress has expanded employee protections for a variety of private-sector workers. Eleven of the forty laws reviewed in this report were enacted after 1999. Among these laws are the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The report focuses on key aspects of the federal whistleblower and anti-retaliation laws. For each law, the report summarizes the activities that are protected, how the law’s protections are enforced, whether the law provides a private right of action, the remedies prescribed by the law, and the year the law’s whistleblower or anti-retaliation provisions were adopted and amended. With regard to amendment dates, the report identifies only dates associated with substantive amendments. For enactments after 2001, the report provides information on congressional sponsorship and votes.