Employee Rights Briefing
March 2019
The NELA Institute Welcomes New Events Coordinator
On February 11, NELA and The NELA Institute welcomed our new Events Coordinator, Alicia Battle, to the team. Alicia will be working with our venues and vendors to make our events great experiences. Upon joining us, Alicia provided, “I am very happy to start working with everyone at NELA and The NELA Institute. Originally from Los Angeles, I have been in the Bay Area since 1989 (just in time for the BIG earthquake). I have extensive experience coordinating events and a little experience working in the lawyer world, as I was the Production Manager for the now-defunct magazine California Lawyer . I look forward to a great and lasting relationship with all of you.” 
NELA & The NELA Institute Praised Google’s Move To End Forced Arbitration For Workers 
NELA and The NELA Institute strongly commended Google employees for their hard-fought, successful campaign to end forced arbitration in their workplace. We also praised Google for being responsive to their workers and committing to end its practice of forcing its employees to privately arbitrate employment disputes. 

In response to the news, NELA & The NELA Institute Executive Director Terry O’Neill stated, “With this announcement, Google has shown leadership in voluntarily ending a practice that is inherently unfair and serves only to obscure workplace wrongdoing. Unfortunately, this skewed system remains the standard practice among most of America’s top companies. We urge other industry leaders to follow suit by retracting their forced arbitration employment policies straightaway. Moreover, given the demonstrable harm forced arbitration causes to individuals, we call on Congress to take direct action to reopen the courthouse doors for all workers and consumers by immediately passing legislation to end forced arbitration once and for all.”
In The News
On February 4, New Jersey enacted a law raising the state minimum wage from $8.85 to $15 per hour over five years. On February 19, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed similar legislation in his state, where the minimum wage has been set at $8.25 per hour since the year 2010. 
The Economic Policy Institute, on February 5, shared a new report finding that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 would lift pay for nearly 40 million workers. OXFAM America also released a new report, “ Ten Years Without A Raise ,” coupled with an interactive map that demonstrates the impact that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour would have for workers in different states across America.
Penn Today’s Science News Officer, Michele W. Berger, explained on February 4 how a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in an arbitration case is a boon for truck drivers and, potentially, the gig economy .
On February 6, Temple University Law Professor Brishen Rogers published an article that “unpacks the relationship among advanced information technologies, employment law rules, and labor standards” entitled, “ Beyond Automation: The Law & Political Economy of Workplace Technological Change .”
On February 11, following President Trump’s government shutdown, Governing Magazine contributors Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene dug into the financial insecurity of many public servants in their article, “ Think Federal Workers Have It Bad? It’s Worse For State And Local Employees .”
Attorney Eric Kingsley argued in support of California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) as a way for employees bound by forced arbitration clauses to access the courts in his February 12 Orange County Register op-ed, “ Labor Lawsuits Grow The Economy, Protect Workers .” 
This month, the New York City Commission on Human Rights expressly acknowledged one of the frequently-ignored ways that people of African descent are discriminated against and issued a new Legal Enforcement Guidance on Race Discrimination on the Basis of Hair.
On February 19, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation expanding paid family leave in the state, making it one of the most expansive policies in the country for working families.
On February 20, MarketWatch shared new findings that in recent years wage inequality has improved for women, but for other Americans it’s gotten worse .
After months of employee protests, on February 21, Google announced it would stop forcing employees to arbitrate workplace disputes . Around the same time, the Berkeley Business Law Journal published its 2019 volume, which included Scott R. Thomas’s article, “ Pre-Dispute Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Complaints: Bad for Business Too .”
On February 22, Nina Banks at The Institute For New Economic Thinking featured an interesting biopic on her blog about Sadie Alexander, “ The Black Woman Economist Who Pioneered A Federal Jobs Guarantee.”
Democrats Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR Act) on February 28, which, would end forced arbitration of employment, consumer, and other disputes. NELA issued a press statement in support of the bill the same day.
Workers Rights By The Numbers
The wage gap between black workers and their white counterparts grew from 10.2% in the year 2000 to 16.2% in 2018.

1 in 9
Number of U.S. workers who are paid wages that leave them in poverty, even when working full-time and year-round. ( U.S. House Committee On Education & Labor ) )
Percentage of U.S. adults engaged in gig work in the year 2015.
 ( Penn Today )

In The Courts
On February 4, in National Association of African American-Owned Media v. Charter Communications, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected but-for causation in certain race discrimination cases, finding that “mixed-motive claims are cognizable” under the statute. The opinion provided, “Even if racial animus was not the but-for cause of a defendant’s refusal to contract, a plaintiff can still prevail if she demonstrates that discriminatory intent was a factor in that decision such that she was denied the same right as a white citizen.” 
On February 27, in Lampley v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights, the Missouri State Supreme Court ruled that a gay man may bring a claim under the state’s human rights statute for employment discrimination on the basis of sexual stereotyping.
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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