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Archive for the ‘Dept. Of Labor’ Category

US Labor Department settles gender discrimination case with Green Bay Dressed Beef on behalf of 970 female applicants for $1.65 million

Agreement includes back wages, interest, benefits and job offers

GREEN    BAY, Wis. Federal contractor Green Bay Dressed Beef LLC will pay $1.65 million in back wages, interest and benefits  to 970 women who were subjected to systemic discrimination by the company. The  settlement follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of  Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which found that the women were rejected for general laborer positions  at the company’s Green Bay  plant in 2006 and 2007.

“This is the 21st  century in the United States    of America.   There is no such thing as a “man’s job,’” said Secretary of Labor Hilda  L. Solis.  “I am pleased that my department has been able to work out a  resolution with Green Bay Dressed Beef, and that the settlement not only compensates  the victims of discrimination but also provides jobs for many of these women.”

In addition to financial  compensation, the beef supplier will extend a total of 248 offers of employment  to affected women as positions become available. The company already has hired more  than 60 of the women in the original class.

During a scheduled  compliance review, OFCCP determined that the company had violated Executive  Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the  basis of gender in their employment practices. Under the terms of the conciliation  agreement worked out between the Labor Department and the contractor, the $1.65 million will be divided among the affected women who return timely  notifications. The company also has agreed to undertake extensive  self-monitoring and corrective measures to ensure that all employment practices  fully comply with the law and will immediately correct any discriminatory practices.

Two of Green Bay Dressed Beef’s largest clients are the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense — as one of the largest suppliers of beef products for the federal school lunch program and one of the leading providers of beef products to American military personnel worldwide.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP’s legal  authority exists under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the  Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.  As amended, these three laws hold those who  do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors,  to the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on  the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or  status as a protected veteran.  For  general information, call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251

The National Labor Relations Board’s Acting General Counsel recently issued a report and press release summarizing the outcomes of recent NLRB cases involving employees’ use of social media and the legality of employers’ social media policies. Among the cases discussed in the report are several in which the Board found that provisions of employers’ social media policies violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, which prohibits work rules that would “reasonably tend to chill employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights” to engage in “concerted activities” for the purpose of “mutual aid or protection.”

Although the NLRB report does not pronounce any new or specific rules for employers to follow in drafting social media policies, it suggests that to avoid running afoul of Section 8(a)(1), social media policies should be narrowly tailored so as not to prohibit “concerted activity” via social media, such as online discussion among coworkers regarding terms and conditions of employment. Employers should be mindful that union and non-union employees alike are covered by the NLRA, and thus the Board’s recent rulings on social media policies are applicable to virtually all employers.

The report specifically discussed Board rulings that the following social media policy provisions were overly broad and violated Section 8(a)(1):

  • Policy prohibiting the use of social media to post pictures depicting the company in any way, such as pictures containing the company uniform or logo.
  • Policy prohibiting employees “making disparaging comments when discussing the company or the employee’s superiors, coworkers, and/or competitors.”
  • Policy barring employee use of social media to engage “in inappropriate discussions about the company, management, and/or coworkers.”
  • Policy that prohibited employees from using social media in a manner that would: (1) “ violate, compromise, or disregard the rights and reasonable expectations as to privacy or confidentiality of any person or entity,” (2) constitute “embarrassment, harassment or defamation of the [employer] or any … employee, officer, board member, representative, or staff member,” or (3) “lack truthfulness or that might damage the reputation or goodwill of the [employer], its staff, or employees.”
  • Policy barring employees from using social media to “talk about company business,” post “anything that they would not want their manager or supervisor to see or that would put their job in jeopardy,” disclose “inappropriate or sensitive information” about the employer, or post “pictures or comments involving the company or its employees that could be construed as inappropriate.”
  • Policies prohibiting employees from using the company’s name, address or other information in their personal online profiles, or from revealing information regarding coworkers, company clients, partners or customers without their consent.

In light of these NLRB rulings, employers should reexamine their social media policies (or consider adopting one), keeping in mind the following best practices.

  • A social media policy should be clear and understandable to the average employee. The NLRB’s rulings have in large part turned on the ambiguities of social media policies, and the possibility that employees may misunderstand the policies to bar protected activities.
  • A social media policy must not be overbroad. Policies should be narrowly drawn to address the employer’s legitimate policy objectives (for example, preventing the disclosure of the company’s proprietary information via social media or restricting the use of social media to engage in harassing conduct that would violate the company’s anti-discrimination and harassment policies).
  • To put employees on notice of a social media policy’s coverage, the policy should include examples of prohibited conduct and/or definitions of terms that could be misconstrued by employees as barring protected activity.
  • A social media policy should include limiting language advising employees that the policy does not apply to activities protected by Section 7 of the NLRA.

In light of the continuous evolution of social media technology and the law in this area, employers should review their social media policies with employment counsel periodically to ensure that the policy language complies with current law and is consistent with the state of technology.

Posted on October 10, 2011 by Kristin D. Sostowski

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis,  joined by Sen. Tom Harkin, today released three new reports on child labor and  forced labor, and announced  $32.5 million in grants to combat child labor around the world.

“These reports  provide an overview of international efforts to protect children from  hazardous work and identify critical gaps in policy and enforcement that leave them  vulnerable,” said Secretary Solis. “Through increased education and awareness, and  critical assistance to families and governments, we can help make exploitative  child labor a thing of the past.”

The Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report, mandated  by the Trade and Development Act, contains more than 140 country profiles, focusing on hazardous work  performed by children.  The report includes major findings on each central  government’s efforts to address the worst forms of child labor; gaps in  legislation, enforcement, policies and programs; and proposed actions for each  government to consider in addressing those gaps.  It also provides details about the  accessibility and cost of education, which is not compulsory everywhere, by  country.

The  updated List of Goods Produced by  Child Labor or Forced Labor,mandated by the Trafficking Victims  Protection Reauthorization Act, expands the number of goods by two, for a total  of 130, and adds one country where they are produced, for a total of 71.

Finally,  the list of goods and products produced by forced or indentured child labor required by Executive Order 13126 has been updated to include bricks from Afghanistan  as well as cassiterite and  coltan from the Democratic    Republic of the Congo.

All three reports were developed by  the Labor Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs based on data  collected from U.S. embassies, foreign governments, international and  nongovernmental organizations, technical assistance and field research projects,  academic research and media reports.

The grants were awarded to three organizations. A $15 million Global Action Program grant  was awarded to the International Labour Organization in Geneva to provide assistance to targeted  countries in order to promote sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable  populations; support innovative research and monitoring systems to aid with  policy development and program design; and encourage new efforts to protect  children from exploitation in domestic work. World Vision in the Philippines was  awarded $15 million to address the worst forms of child labor in sugarcane  production.  The International Labour  Organization also received $2.5 million to support the Labor Department’s  programming and implementation of impact evaluations to identify best  practices for addressing child labor.

In recognition of the impact of the  global economic crisis on vulnerable children, the international community met  at The Hague in  2010 to renew its commitment to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by  2016.  Delegates agreed to a road map for  meeting that deadline and called on world leaders to implement it.

More than 215 million children are engaged in child labor, the International  Labour Organization estimates, with more than half performing hazardous  work.  The ILO also has found that  a growing number of 15- to 17-year-olds are engaging in work that is hazardous  to their health, safety and morals.

To address the challenges of combating child labor and to highlight  new initiatives, Secretary Solis hosted a panel discussion on Oct. 3. Participants  included Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa; Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. of the  Philippines; Constance Thomas, director of the International Labour  Organization’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor; and  Daphne Culanag, project director of World Vision in the Philippines.

October 3, 2011 — Today the Department of Labor released three reports on child labor and forced labor in foreign countries. The release includes the 10th edition of the annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, a report mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000 that provides information on the efforts of certain U.S. trade beneficiary countries to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. It also includes an update to the List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor, mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (TVPRA List), and a proposed revision to the List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor pursuant to Executive Order 13126 of 1999 (EO 13126 List). The proposed changes to the EO 13126 List are open for public comment through December 3rd.

Department of Labor Issues Reports on International Child Labor and Forced Labor

Today the  Department of Labor released three reports on child labor and  forced labor in foreign countries.  The release includes the 10th  edition of the annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, a report mandated by the Trade and  Development Act of 2000 that provides information on the efforts of certain U.S. trade  beneficiary countries to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.  The 10th edition includes more information about hazardous  work and educational access than previous reports, and continues to highlight the major  findings related to each government’s efforts as well as include  country-specific suggestions for actions that would help combat the problems  each country is facing.

DOL also  released an update to its List  of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor, which is mandated by the  Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (TVPRA List).  The update adds 2 new goods and 1 new country  for a total of 130 goods from 71 countries that ILAB has reason to believe are  produced by forced labor, child labor or both, in violation of international  standards.  In addition, DOL released a  proposed revision to the List of Products Produced  by Forced or Indentured Child Labor pursuant to Executive Order 13126 of  1999.  The proposed revision adds 2 new  products and 2 new countries, bringing the total to 31 products from 23  countries.  These proposed changes to the  EO 13126 list will be available for a 60-day public comment period beginning  October 4th.

 

The National Labor Relations Board said Wednesday a nonprofit in organization in Buffalo, N.Y. was wrong to fire five workers for Facebook postings that criticized working conditions, and disclosed that it has more than two dozen cases involving worker complaints aired on the social media site.
The NLRB complaint against Hispanics United of Buffalo reaffirms the agency’s position in an earlier case that labor law allows employees to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers and others—including postings on social-media sites.
An organization that fired five employees who griped about their jobs on Facebook has been ordered to rehire them and give them back pay, reports Courtney Rubin at Inc. A National Labor Relations Board judge ruled that federal law protects employees’ right to complain about working conditions when they’re off the clock.
The organization, Hispanics United of Buffalo, is a non-profit that delivers social services to low-income people. One worker started a conversation about morale on Facebook on a Saturday morning, and four others soon chimed in, complaining about workload, staffing and working conditions. They were all fired within days.
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The administrative law judge hearing the case, Judge Arthur J. Amchan, ruled that they had been fired illegally. In addition to hiring them back and issuing back pay, the organization is ordered to put up a notice letting employees know their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
As Rubin notes, this case is a first in two ways: It is the first time the NLRB heard a social media-related case that didn’t focus on the organization’s social media policy; it is also the first case involving social media in a workplace that isn’t unionized.
The Court stated that an organization can’t fire workers for griping on Facebook
In a recent complaint, an employee of Hispanics United who was scheduled to meet with management about working conditions posted on Facebook a co-worker’s allegation that employees didn’t help the nonprofit’s clients enough, the NLRB said. That post drew responses from other employees who defended their work and blamed conditions such as workloads and staffing issues.
When Hispanics United learned about the postings, it discharged the five employees who participated, claiming their comments were harassment of the employee originally mentioned in the post, the NLRB said. The NLRB said the Facebook discussion was “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relations Act.
The earlier case was brought to the agency by a union representing an employee of ambulance company American Medical Response of Connecticut. In that case, the employee posted comments about her supervisor and responded to further comments from her co-workers. That case was settled in February when the company agreed to revamp its rules to ensure they don’t restrict workers’ rights. A separate, private settlement was reached between the company and the employee, though terms weren’t disclosed.
An NLRB spokeswoman said Wednesday that at least three other complaints have been issued from regional offices since the American Medical Response case. All of those appear to have been settled, she said. Some charges that have been investigated have been dismissed.
Hispanics United of Buffalo (HUB), which was established in 1989, is Buffalo’s only community based not for profit organization providing low and moderate income Hispanics, African Americans, immigrants and others with culturally appropriate bilingual programs addressing serious social and economic self-sufficiency needs. HUB offers a wide scope of services to meet the economic and social needs of its clients including: affordable housing referral, emergency shelter grants, domestic violence, health and preventive services, case management, tutoring for youth, court advocacy, senior services, ESL classes and GED tutoring, translation services for clients seeking services from other providers, and a youth development and job readiness training program for youth ages 14-21

Seaman’s Protection Act, 46 U.S.C. §2114 as amended by Section 611 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, P.L. 111-281

§2114. Protection of seaman against discrimination.

(a)(1) A person may not discharge or in any manner discriminate
against a seaman because–

(A) the seaman in good faith has reported or is about to report
to the Coast Guard or other appropriate Federal agency or department that the
seaman believes that a violation of a maritime safety law or regulation
prescribed under that law or regulation has occurred;

(B) the seaman has refused to perform duties ordered by the
seaman’s employer because the seaman has a reasonable apprehension or
expectation that performing such duties would result in serious injury to the
seaman, other seamen, or the public;

(C) the seaman testified in a proceeding brought to enforce a
maritime safety law or regulation prescribed under that law;

(D) the seaman notified, or attempted to notify, the vessel
owner or the Secretary of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness
of a seaman;

(E) the seaman cooperated with a safety investigation by the
Secretary or the National Transportation Safety Board;

(F) the seaman furnished information to the Secretary, the
National Transportation Safety Board, or any other public official as to the
facts relating to any marine casualty resulting in injury or death to an
individual or damage to property occurring in connection with vessel
transportation; or

(G) the seaman accurately reported hours of duty under this
part.

(2) The circumstances causing a seaman’s apprehension of
serious injury under paragraph (1)(B) must be of such a nature that a reasonable
person, under similar circumstances, would conclude that there is a real danger
of an injury or serious impairment of health resulting from the performance of
duties as ordered by the seaman’s employer.

(3) To qualify for protection against the seaman’s employer
under paragraph (1)(B), the employee must have sought from the employer, and
been unable to obtain, correction of the unsafe condition.

(b) A seaman alleging discharge or discrimination in violation
of subsection (a) of this section, or another person at the seaman’s request,
may file a complaint with respect to such allegation in the same manner as a
complaint may be filed under subsection (b) of section 31105 of title 49. Such
complaint shall be subject to the procedures, requirements, and rights described
in that section, including with respect to the right to file an objection, the
right of a person to file for a petition for review under subsection (c) of that
section, and the requirement to bring a civil action under subsection (d) of
that section.