Employee Rights Briefing
September 2020
The Institute & NELA Call On JAMS To Examine Past Cases For Bias
On September 8, The Institute and NELA submitted a letter to the CEO of JAMS calling on them to conduct a full assessment of all discrimination cases overseen by Judge Richard Neville. Neville recently distributed via email to 39 recipients a racist essay contending the inferiority of Black Americans. He has since left JAMS. The letter contained a request to JAMS outlining several actions it must take to investigate racism in Neville’s cases, as well as organization-wide.
 
As a JAMS neutral (arbitrator), Neville decided case outcomes, including employment discrimination cases, many of which are before JAMS instead of a court due to forced arbitration clauses imposed by employers on their employees. Now his neutrality on previous cases, particularly those related to discrimination or involving people of color, must be called into question due to his legitimizing of discriminatory beliefs. Neville’s willingness to share racist rhetoric with colleagues, including another JAMS neutral, under his JAMS email signature also raises concerns about whether the culture at the organization ignores or harbors racism.
In The News
On August 3, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission resumed sending out right to sue notices to workers, four months after pausing these notices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 14, the Department of Labor’s internal watchdog, the Office of Inspector General, issued a report finding that OSHA needs to improve their handling of whistleblower complaints containing allegations of retaliation for reporting unsafe working conditions during the pandemic.
On August 17, NELA member Shannon Liss-Riordan and Senator Elizabeth Warren authored an op-ed advocating for the end of the misclassification of gig workers as independent contractors rather than employees.
On August 24, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $7.8 million in back wages and interest to Black job applicants and improve its hiring process after allegations of discrimination brought by the Department of Labor.
A report by the Economic Policy Institute published on August 27 found that state attorneys general have improved their workplace enforcement efforts in recent years by suing employers for wage theft, misclassification, and noncompete agreements binding low-wage workers.
On August 31, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the per hour minimum wage for federal contractors will increase to $10.95, effective next January.
Workers' Rights By The Numbers
25%
The percentage of workers under the age of 25 who have lost their job due to the pandemic. (Forbes)
67%
The percentage of workers who say they would consider leaving their job if their work arrangements became less flexible.
In The Courts
On August 10, a California Superior Court judge ordered Uber and Lyft to comply with AB-5 and reclassify their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors. On August 20, a California Appeals Court stayed the order, permitting both companies to continue misclassifying their workers until Proposition 22 is either passed or rejected by voters. Proposition 22 would exempt Uber and Lyft from AB-5, allowing them to continue to misclassify their drivers as independent contractors.
On August 14, a New York federal judge blocked Trump administration regulations that rolled back anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ patients, holding that the rules likely conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that federal law bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
On August 14, the Ninth Circuit held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect independent contractors from discrimination.
On August 19, a divided Ninth Circuit held that Amazon delivery drivers are transportation workers engaged in interstate commerce even if they only make deliveries in one state, and thus are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act. This means the drivers do not have to arbitrate and can move forward with their class action suit.
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.
The Employee Rights Advocacy Institute For Law & Policy
1800 Sutter Street, Suite 210 | Concord, CA | 94520
(415) 296-7629 | info@employeerightsadvocacy.org
www.employeerightsadvocacy.org