Employee Rights Briefing
June 2018
News From The Institute
NELA Institute Executive Director Issues Powerful Statement In Response To SCOTUS Shredding Of Workers’ Rights
On behalf of NELA and The NELA Institute, Executive Director Terry O’Neill expressed strong opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Epic Systems, Corp. v. Lewis, in which the Court devastated workers’ ability to join together in class and collective legal actions to remedy workplace abuse. 
As O’Neill stated, “Individual forced arbitration is no substitute for a collective action in an open, public judicial forum. Unlike courts of law, arbitrators are incentivized, and significantly more likely, to rule in employers’ favor. A recently-updated report from The NELA Institute found that 80 percent of America’s top companies already have arbitration policies in their employment contracts, nearly half of which also ban workers from participating in class, collective, or joint legal actions. After [the Supreme Court’s] misguided ruling, even more employers will be emboldened to follow suit.” 
In The News
 On May 7, Terri Gerstein and Marni von Wilpert published a new report through the Economic Policy Institute asserting, “ State Attorneys General Can Play Key Roles In Protecting Workers’ Rights.” 
In her May 7 op-ed, “ I’m Sharing My #MeToo Story Because Congress Is Broken, And We Have To Fix It,” former congressional staffer Anna Kain calls on Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen workplace protections for congressional staff. On May 24, the U.S. Senate made some progress towards doing so when it passed the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, despite it being less comprehensive than the version passed by the House in February. 
Bloomberg Law exposed how the U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL) is working to unwind workplace protections for minors in its May 8 report, “ Trump Administration Wants To Train Teens In Hazardous Jobs.”
In “ Unions and Inequality Over the Twentieth Century: New Evidence From Survey Data,” researchers supported by Princeton University and The National Bureau of Economic Research found that “unions have had a significant, equalizing effect on the income distribution” and play an important role in reducing income inequality. Mike Konczal at The Nation explained the implications of the report in his article, “ There’s Power In A Union.” 
On May 14, Reuters reporter Alison Frankel explored, “ How Can States Block Mandatory Arbitration Clauses? Vermont May Have Found A Way.” 
On May 16, NPR’s David Folkenflik reported that “ Fox News Pays $10 Million to Settle Racial, Gender Bias Suits.” 
On May 17, The Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer Juliana Feliciano Reyes cited The NELA Institute’s recent finding that 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies use arbitration to resolve workplace disputes in her article, “ Should Your Employer Be Able To Stop You From Joining A Class Action?” That same day, NELA member Debra Katz argued against forced arbitration in the workplace in her Washington Post op-ed, “ 30 Million Women Can’t Sue Their Employer Over Harassment. Hopefully That’s Changing.” Also, in “ Uber Should ‘Do The Right Thing’ For All Its Workers,” E. Tammy Kim argued that to protect workers, companies must stop using forced arbitration for all employment disputes, not just claims of sexual harassment. 
Stephanie Russell-Kraft at The New Republic summed up the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Epic Systems decision in her article, “ The Supreme Court’s War Against Workers.” 
Workers Rights By The Numbers
10.7
The percentage of working Americans who are union members—the lowest rate since 1955. ( The Nation )
43
The percentage of U.S. households that cannot afford monthly expenses such as housing, food, healthcare, child care,
and transportation.
361:1
The ratio of the average
American CEO’s pay to the average
nonsupervisory worker’s.
In The Courts
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, et al that the National Labor Relations Act does not preclude employers from requiring workers to submit to class and collective action bans in forced arbitration clauses as a condition of employment.
On May 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced that it will begin livestreaming nearly all oral arguments that it hears upon reconvening this autumn. 
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 reports 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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