More Single Mothers Means More Need For Protection

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 13, June 26, 2019
(subscription required)

You have several open customer service positions and receive a recommendation for a candidate through your employee referral program. When describing the potential candidate’s work experience, the referring employee also mentions the individual is a single mother. Afterwards, a member of the hiring team says he doesn’t want to bother interviewing the potential candidate because “single mothers are always a problem.”

Attitudes like this can put your organization at risk. Depending on the jurisdiction, single parents may be protected by statutes prohibiting discrimination based on marital status, parental status or caregiving responsibilities. Sex-based discrimination protections may also come into play….

Phishing Scams: Should Employees Be Held Accountable?

Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 12, June 13, 2019
(subscription required)

An administrative assistant receives an email from a senior executive asking her to purchase 100 $25 gift cards to be distributed electronically to staff as a thank you for their hard work. The employee purchases the cards, charging the expense on her personal credit card. She sends the executive the cards as requested and submits the charge for reimbursement. When the accounts payable team contacts the executive for approval of the reimbursement, everyone gets a big surprise—the executive never asked for the gift cards. The employee had fallen for what’s known as a “phishing” scam and the scammers have already emptied the cards of their balances.

While the employee is contrite, the executive does not want to reimburse her because she believes the employee should have known better. The entire company had recently received correspondence from the IT department about phishing scams and how to avoid becoming a victim. The employee argues you have an obligation to pay her because she was acting in good faith to perform what she perceived as a duty of her job. The CEO of your organization wants to fire her for putting the company at risk.

If this sounds far-fetched, it’s not. A similar scenario recently played out at a company in the Washington, D.C. area. In the end, the company reimbursed the employee for half of gift cards’ costs, but hard feelings remain on all sides…..

Paid Parental Leave: On The Table

Source: Rob Taylor, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 12, June 13, 2019
(subscription required)

Doubtless, teachers have taken notice. Last year Delaware Gov. Carney approved a new law giving state workers—including educators—12 weeks of paid parental leave. That’s dramatically different from the situation nationwide where just a few states offer that benefit. Also, the United States is widely known to be one of the least responsive of developed nations in this regard, a somewhat surprising occurrence given the push in this country to find creative solutions to the large, ongoing problem of teacher shortage.

In most places in the U.S., according to an EdWeek series, since teachers do not have paid time off related to pregnancy and birthing, they first use accumulated sick days to stay home with their newborn, and then go to unpaid leave, getting back to the classroom and a needed paycheck as rapidly as possible.

Related:
With No Paid Parental Leave, Many Teachers Return to Class Before They’re Ready
Source: Madeline Will, EdWeek, April 1, 2019
(subscription required)

Executive Paywatch 2019

Source: AFL-CIO, 2019

In 2018, CEOs of S&P 500 companies received, on average, $14.5 million in total compensation. The average S&P 500 company CEO-to-worker pay ratio was 287 to 1. The imbalance in our economy between the pay of CEOs and working people continues to be a problem.

Highest-Paid CEOs
CEO pay continues to outpace the pay of working people. In the past 10 years, CEO pay at S&P 500 companies increased more than $500,000 a year to an average of $14.5 million in 2018. Meanwhile, the average production and nonsupervisory worker saw a wage increase of $785 a year, earning on average just $39,888 in 2018.

Company Pay Ratios
Publicly traded companies are required to disclose the pay ratio between their chief executive and median employee. Company pay ratio data is important. It shows which companies are investing in their workforce to create high-wage jobs. The table below shows how companies pay their CEOs relative to their workforce.

Related:
CEOs made 287 times more money last year than their workers did
Source: Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, June 26, 2019

Companies have finally started reporting CEO-worker pay ratios. Now we know why they fought so hard to avoid it.

Unsurprisingly, the gap is obscene. The average chief executive of an S&P 500 company earned 287 times more than their median employee last year, according to an analysis of the new federal data released Tuesday by the AFL-CIO labor federation. America’s CEOs earned a staggering $14.5 million in 2018, on average, compared to the average $39,888 that rank-and-file workers made. And CEOs got a $500,000 bump compared to the previous year, while the average US worker barely got more than $1,000. ….

…. But there is another Reagan-era policy that has contributed to skyrocketing CEO pay: stock buybacks. Corporate executives have spent trillions of dollars buying back their company’s own stocks since the 1980s to temporarily boost its value. …. Over the past 15 years or so, firms have spent an estimated 94 percent of corporate profits on buybacks and dividends. That means companies are barely investing any of their profits in their companies, or workers. Which is why we end up with charts that look like this. ….

The Non-Randomness of Municipal Government Reorganization: Evidence From Village Dissolution in New York

Source: Pengju Zhang, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published June 25, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Municipal government dissolution used to be a rare occurrence in American history and has thus far received little attention in the literature. More than 300 of municipal governments, however, have dissolved since the mid-1990s. To understand this emerging momentum in practice and to fill the gap in literature, this article focuses on the increasing trend of village dissolution in New York, builds an analytical framework, and investigates the driving forces behind the possibility of dissolution, which is measured either by the presence of any dissolution-related activity or by the passage of a dissolution referendum. Based on a representative survey sample and a rich set of secondary data, this article consistently finds that dissolution does not randomly occur. Rather, dissolution is more likely to be considered and approved in a village where the economy struggles, the population declines, political trust undermines, and fiscal health deteriorates. In other words, the research suggests dissolution may not be as appealing or take place in economically strong and politically dynamic areas.

Fostering Civic Health: An Analysis of the Generative and Mediating Activities of Community-Based Organizations

Source: Kandyce Fernandez, Robbie Robichau, Jennifer Alexander, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published June 19, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Civic engagement in U.S. political life has declined since the 1950s resulting in a deluge of studies that explore its causes and implications. Research to date has directed little attention to the institutional role of associations as the foundation for civic engagement in all of its forms. This article utilizes institutional theory as a lens to examine the ways in which community-based organizations (CBOs), in tandem with local government, foster civic engagement, and enhance representation in their communities. Through interview data obtained from stakeholders of 18 local education foundations (LEFs) in Florida, we examine the ways in which CBOs nurture civic health with client communities (generative role) and represent their interests in local policy arenas (mediating role). Based on the results of this initial study, we argue that greater attention should be directed to the relationships between CBOs and measures of civic health given their unique capacity to foster it. Results indicate the relationship between generative and mediating activities is such that CBOs’ engagement with client communities establishes the foundational knowledge necessary for representing their interests in the interorganizational arena. In addition, CBOs were found to establish both bridging and bonding capital in the interorganizational arena through their efforts to exert influence on behalf of client communities.

Artificial Intelligence, Discretion, and Bureaucracy

Source: Justin B. Bullock, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published June 18, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This essay highlights the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in governance and society and explores the relationship between AI, discretion, and bureaucracy. AI is an advanced information communication technology tool (ICT) that changes both the nature of human discretion within a bureaucracy and the structure of bureaucracies. To better understand this relationship, AI, discretion, and bureaucracy are explored in some length. It is argued that discretion and decision-making are strongly influenced by intelligence, and that improvements in intelligence, such as AI, can help improve the overall quality of administration. Furthermore, the characteristics, strength, and weaknesses of both human discretion and AI are explored. Once these characteristics are laid out, a further exploration of the role AI may play in bureaucracies and bureaucratic structure is presented, followed by a specific focus on systems-level bureaucracies. In addition, it is argued that task distribution and task characteristics play a large role, along with the organizational and legal context, in whether a task favors human discretion or the use of AI. Complexity and uncertainty are presented as the major defining characteristics for categorizing tasks. Finally, a discussion is provided about the important cautions and concerns of utilizing AI in governance, in particular, with respect to existential risk and administrative evil.

Cessation Of Dues Checkoff Was Lawful

Source: Kimberly Kemper, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 12, June 13, 2019
(subscription required)

Following Wisconsin’s enactment of a right-to-work law that curtailed dues checkoff, 2015 Wisconsin Act 1, employer Metalcraft of Mayville, Inc. ceased deducting union dues from its unit employees’ paychecks and remitting those dues to the union, District Lodge No. 10, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers of America, AFL-CIO. The employer also communicated with its employees regarding this action, the state right-to-work law, and its understanding of employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). An administrative law judge found that by failing to deduct and remit dues to the Union for several months in 2016, Metalcraft modified its collective bargaining agreement with the Union within the meaning of § 8(d) of the NLRA, in violation of § 8(a)(5) and (1). In addition, the judge found that the employer’s related communications to employees undermined the Union in violation of § 8(a)(1). The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reversed. It held that because Metalcraft reasonably believed that the dues-checkoff authorizations in its possession did not conform to Wisconsin’s recently enacted right-to-work law, its cessation of dues checkoff was lawful. The NLRB also found that the employer’s communications to employees about the matter were lawful.

2018 Election Administration and Voting Survey

Source: U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), June 2019

From the press release:
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today released findings from the 2018 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) the most comprehensive source of state- and local jurisdiction-level data about election administration in the United States. ….

Some notable findings from the 2018 EAVS include:

Turnout
• More than 120 million Americans, or 52 percent of the estimated Citizen Voting Age Population, voted in the 2018 Midterm Elections.
• The nationwide turnout rate was 15.5 percentage points higher than in the 2014 Midterm Election, with some states reporting turnout levels that approached those of a typical Presidential Election.

Voter Registration
• More than 211 million persons were reported as registered and eligible to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections, an increase of 11 percent over the 2014 Midterm Elections.
• Nearly 80 million voter registration applications were received between the 2016 and 2018 Federal Elections.
• Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) remained the most utilized method for voter registration and accounted for 45 percent of registrations, an increase of 33 percent over 2014.
• Online voter registration is allowed in 40 states and territories, and accounted for 16 percent of registrations in 2018, a six-point increase over 2014. This represented a slight decrease from 2016.
• Nearly half of states have some kind of policy allowing for same day voter registration and more than 800,000 same day registrations were processed during the 2018 Midterm Elections.

By-Mail and In-Person Early Voting
• Voting in-person on Election Day remained the most-used mode of voting. More than half of voters cast their ballots in person on Election Day.
• However, by-mail voting was used by a quarter of the electorate in 2018.
• Nearly one-fifth voted at in-person early voting sites, a rate that more than doubled since the 2014 elections. In six states, more than half of ballots were cast at in-person early voting sites. ….

Has Higher Education Solved the Problem? Examining the Gender Wage Gap of Recent College Graduates Entering the Workplace

Source: Xueqing Fan, Michael Sturman, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published June 19, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While there has been extensive historical evidence demonstrating the gender wage gap, gains made by women in terms of higher education may be reducing the gap among those recently entering the workforce. Education is a major determinant of wage, and women are often outpacing men now in terms of educational achievement. Thus, the question remains of whether these gains in education have reduced or even eliminated gender wage inequality. This study examines the gender wage difference among new graduates with the same education level using the most recent data from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort. Despite the hope that greater representation of women with higher degrees would reduce or eliminate the gender wage gap for new entrants to the labor market, our results show that newly graduated men with an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree still earn significantly higher wages than newly graduated women with a same degree. Thus, in what we argue is a highly conservative test for the presence of the gender wage gap, the evidence strongly suggests that the wage gap is a continued and pervasive problem in the modern workplace.