Employee Rights Briefing
December 2016
What We're Reading
The Institute News

Employee Rights In The News news
In The News
Mother Jones reported that workers in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington will be receiving a raise, as voters on November 8th approved a phased-in increase to the minimum wage in those states.

Additionally, Mother Jones reporter Tom Philpott notes that voters in Maine and Flagstaff, AZ abolished the lower minimum wage for workers who earn tips, making Maine the eighth state to eliminate the practice. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers has been frozen at $2.13 per hour for 25 years.

Lisa Rein of the Washington Post explored the possible impact of the incoming presidential administration on federal employees in her piece " Trump has a plan for government workers. They're not going to like it."

In November, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its updated enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination. The guidance was last updated in 2002.

In commemoration of the 4th anniversary of SEIU's continuing Fight for $15 campaign, thousands of low-wage workers participated in a nationwide strike on November 29.

Employee Rights In The Courtscourts
In The Courts
On November 22, 2016, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas enjoined the implementation of a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rule updating overtime protections, which would have gone into effect on December 1. The DOL Wage and Hour Division issued a prompt response strongly disagreeing with the decision.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision in Parnell v. Western Sky Financial to hold an arbitration clause unenforceable when the arbitrator specified in the contract does not actually exist.

A rare full-court session of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit met on November 30, 2016 to hear Kimberly Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College. At issue in that case is whether discrimination against LGBT workers constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Workers' Rights By The Numbers:

Reported number of states where Head Start teachers are generally not eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits during summer breaks.

The percentage of the workforce projected to be age 55 or over by the year 2024.
(  Department of Labor )

The percentage of employees who said they planned to work on Thanksgiving this year.

The percentage of restaurant industry servers who are women.

The number of temporary warehouse employees hired by Amazon for the holiday season.

The number of workers who would have become eligible for overtime pay under a new Department of Labor final rule that was scheduled to go into effect on Dec 1 until a district court enjoined the rule's implementation.
The Institute News
inst1The Institute Welcomes Incoming 2016-- 2018 Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow
The Institute is pleased to announce the arrival of its fourth Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow, Elizabeth Colman, Esq. Elizabeth graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law (2015), where she earned specialization certificates in Public Interest Law and Labor & Employment Law. As a law student, Elizabeth served as a summer associate with the Alliance for Justice, a Graduate Legal Assistant with the California Office of Legislative Counsel, and an extern with the National Employment Law Project. Prior to law school, Elizabeth spent nearly a decade working as a progressive political organizer and workers' rights advocate.

inst2Taking "Forced" Out Of Arbitration
The Institute is sharing far and wide its recently published Taking "Forced" Out Of Arbitration: How Forced Arbitration Harms America's Workers to educate the public about forced arbitration of workplace disputes and why it jeopardizes workers' rights and their access to the courts. Taking "Forced" Out Of Arbitration includes a plain language description of forced arbitration; an explanation of why forced arbitration harms employees and results in poor outcomes; and employee stories that provide real world examples of the negative impact of forced arbitration on workers. The publication is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

To obtain a hard copy please contact Maria Rapier at (415) 296-7629 or info@employeerightsadvocacy.org.

inst3Spring Employee Rights Advocacy Fellow Volunteer Opportunities At The Institute
The Institute is now accepting applications from law students who are interested in serving as a full- or part-time volunteer Employee Rights Advocacy Fellow for Spring 2017 in our Oakland, California office. If you know of any law students dedicated to workers' rights who would be interested, please ask them to email a resume and a cover letter to Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow Elizabeth Colman at ecolman@employeerightsadvocacy.org.
The Employee Rights Briefing is a monthly newsletter designed to help keep you up-to-date on breaking news and emerging trends impacting America's workers. From the growth of forced arbitration of employment disputes, to employee misclassification, to stories of wage theft and workplace discrimination, the Employee Rights Briefing will report on employment law and policy developments from the federal government to state legislatures to the courtroom and everywhere in between. Our goal is to provide you with a digestible snapshot of the events shaping employment law and policy, so that you can be kept abreast of the most important issues facing today's workers.

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