clinton2013Yesterday, I offered up three questions for moderators to use during the Presidential Debates to question Donald Trump on employment law issues.

Today is Secretary Hillary Clinton’s turn.

  1. Secretary Clinton, the National Labor Relations Board has been quite active in the Obama years; in fact, despite the failure of Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (of which you were an original co-sponsor), many of the ideas from that bill have made its way to regulations from the NLRB including new speedy elections.  You have indicated that you will “fight to strengthen the labor movement” on your website.  What additional changes would you like to see to the nation’s labor laws and why isn’t what we have now enough?
  2. You have indicated that you will also “protect workers from exploitation, including employer misclassification, wage theft, and other forms of exploitation.”  Yet our federal and state laws already prohibit the use of independent contractors as employees and cover the so-called “wage theft” examples. What are you going to do differently, if anything?
  3. In a speech yesterday, you spotlighted a constituency that we haven’t heard much about during this election cycle — those with disabilities.  And you have indicated that you want to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   Beyond eliminating the sub-minimum wage that is allowable under current law, would you make any changes to the ADA itself? And in “fulfilling the promise” of the ADA, would you ask the Department of Justice make enforcement a top priority of its strategic plan?

I’m under no illusion: These topics are unlikely to get discussed.  We’ll probably hear more about e-mails and taco trucks.  But perhaps someone somewhere will press the candidates on these important issues.

trumpphotoEach election cycle, I hope that employment law issues will move front and center to the Presidential campaign.

And each cycle, I’m slightly disappointed that such issues only get short shrift.  Sigh.

But as I’ve done before, it would be nice to fantasize about employment law questions that could be posed to the candidates at the upcoming Presidential debates.

So, just in case Lester Holt or the other moderators are brainstorming ideas on the internet, here are three questions I’d like to see asked of Donald J. Trump.

(I’ll have a followup post for Hillary Clinton.)

  1. The U.S. Department of Labor has recent proposed raising the salary threshold requirements for employees to receive overtime. As a result, millions more workers may start to get overtime in December of this year.  But this week, various states and business groups have filed suit to block its implementation. You have previously said that you support a rollback of these new rules.  Why? What specific changes would you propose to the overtime rules if you were going to roll back the current proposal.  Be specific.
  2. You recently said you would advise your daughter Ivanka to “find another career or find another company” if she faced the same harassment as alleged in the sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox chief Roger Ailes.  Can you explain why you think your daughter should leave a company if faced with harassment? Doesn’t the company bear some responsibility to its employees to stop the harassment and ensure a safe working environment for its employees?
    Followup question: Given the allegations against Roger Ailes and Fox’s payment of $20M to resolve allegations by one of its former employees of sexual harassment, how do you justify consulting with him and what message (if any) do you think it sends to your female workers on your staff?
  3. States like Connecticut have passed a version of Paid Sick Leave. Do you support such a law? As a followup, you recently said you would support a six-week paid maternity leave program.  Why are fathers excluded from your proposal? Do you think fathers should have any paid time off after the birth or adoption of a child?

 

 

Thanks to all who came and attended our employment law seminar at the Hartford Club today. As a reminder, we’re running another one on October 18th.  More information is available here.

At today’s seminar, we talked about the need for companies to implement a social media policy and also about how social media can get out of control quickly.

I used, as an example, a tweet from last night’s presidential debate. In the middle of the debate, the following tweet from KitchenAid’s corporate account appeared:

“Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics”

Oy. 

That tweet used a “hashtag” that made the tweet easily seen by anyone following NBC News’ coverage of the debate.  The tweet itself was quickly deleted and replaced by a series of other tweets including this one: “It was carelessly sent in error by a member of our Twitter team who, needless to say, won’t be tweeting for us anymore.”

KitchenAid to its credit, has responded swiftly and promptly.  And it has made the most of what was obviously a mistake by a person who ran the Twitter account.

But the damage is already done.  Everyone has now seen it.  And we’re talking about it all over the internet today. 

Could this have been avoided? Yes and no.

First, let’s state the obvious. A tweet like this is just the new version of the “reply all” mistakes we see time and again.  No amount of technology is going to ever prevent a mistake from happening.

But there are ways to reduce the risk of these types of tweets from happening.  How?

Well, PR Daily already recapped some of them here.  They include: making sure that only members (and not interns) have access to your social media accounts; making sure you have a policy that outlines penalties and usage guidelines; and making sure that people who use multiple accounts note that their personal tweets are, well, personal.

Social media policies, as we talked about at today’s seminar, are continuing to evolve.  If you don’t have one yet, get one. If you have one, take a look at it periodically to see if it is still being followed in practice.  And above all else, educate your employees in how social media should be used by your company.

Learn from others. Mistakes happen. But some mistakes can be avoided.

Courtesy of Obama Campaign

Next up in this week’s series of employment law-related debate questions for the candidates: Vice President Joe Biden.

  • One of the big ideas of the administration early on was the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s an act that you publicly showed strong support for. The bill never passed and some of the ideas regarding “card check” seem on life support. What happened with the bill? What lessons have you learned from its defeat and do you still support its provisions, even if it is done through administrative rule changes, rather than legislation?
  • Why do you support the Paycheck Fairness Act? And why is that bill needed in light of all the other laws already on the books preventing pay discrimination, including the Equal Pay Act?

So, what do you think? What questions would you ask Vice President Biden related to employment law.

And don’t forget to check out posts from other employment law blogs here, here, here, and here.

All this week, this blog (and other employment law blogs — here, here, here and here) are posting employment law-related questions for the major-party candidates for President and Vice President.  Today’s turn: Mitt Romney.

Courtesy Mitt Romney Campaign

(For a recap of this process — and a reminder that these questions should not be interpreted as being “for” or “against” a candidate — see my post from yesterday.)

  • On your campaign website,you state that the “first step in improving labor policy will be to ensure that our labor laws create a stable and level playing field on which businesses can operate. As they hire, businesses should not have to worry that a politicized federal agency will rewrite the rules of the employment game without warning and without regard for the law.”  Yet, the NLRB is — by its nature — a political agency that shifts its agenda depending on who the President is.  Under George W. Bush, it became more pro-business and under Obama, it became more pro-union.  Are you suggesting that you would try to de-politicize the NLRB? If so, how? And if not, aren’t the changes you propose simply adding to the political nature of the NLRB?
  • In 1994, as a candidate for Senate, you supported the Employment Non Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.  In 2007, you indicated that you would not support ENDA and that you believed this policy is best implemented at a state level.  Why have you changed your mind on this and why are sexual orientation discrimination policies best left for individual states when we already have federal laws on age, race and gender discrimination?
  • More retaliation claims are filed with the EEOC than any other protected characteristic. Indeed, the Supreme Court — in some cases unanimously — has endorsed a fairly broad view of such claims. Do you believe there is an epidemic of retaliation claims? Do you believe the issue needs to be addressed through legislation?  

What employment law questions would you like to see Mitt Romney address? Feel free to add them in the comment section below.

Photo from Barack Obama Campaign

With the Presidential election just six weeks away, we have yet to see any of the major party candidates tackle employment law issues in detail.  That, of course, is not surprising.

But as we head towards the debates, I talked with several other employment lawyers who run blogs and we thought we could bring some attention to these issues by posting a series of “debate questions” for the candidates.  So, all this week, you’ll see several of us doing posts on the subject.

Today we tackle some employment law questions for President Obama. Later this week, we’ll have questions for Mitt Romney, Vice President Joe Biden, and Rep. Paul Ryan. 

An important note: This blog, as it did four years ago, isn’t advocating for or against a candidate (I’ll leave that for the political blogs out there); rather, these posts are designed to bring attention to issues that might otherwise get ignored.  I’m not naive; the odds that a debate will focus on this type of question are somewhere between slim and none. But perhaps the candidates can use these closing weeks to address the issues and help those who are interested in these issues gain some greater clarity.  

Here are three employment law questions for President Obama that I’d like to see addressed at the upcoming debates:

  • On your campaign website, you have touted your strong support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.  But four years after passage, can you point to any specific instances where this law has made a difference in “pay discrimination”?
  • As President, you have barred discrimination in your administration on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Given your actions in your administration, why has there been no progress in Congress on passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a proposed bill that would bar employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation? Moreover, do you support that bill anymore? Your campaign website has no reference to that bill.
  • The National Labor Relations Board has been advancing a series of rulings that have called into question longstanding business practices including at-will disclaimers and confidential workplace investigations.    In the past, you supported the Employee Free Choice Act.  Do you support what the NLRB has been doing recently? Are there areas where you disagree with them?

Obviously, this can only scratch the surface of issues. But in the comments below, feel free to add your own questions that you’d like to see addressed by the candidates.

And check out the posts today by other employment law blogs: The Employer Handbook, Screw You Guys I’m Going Home, Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and Employment and Labor Insider.

The Presidential debates and Vice-Presidential debate are coming up later this month.  A lot has courtesy Obama websitebeen written about what the candidates’ respective positions are (and a lot has been written on everything BUT the issues).  For some recent discussions of various issues, check out posts this week from the Delaware Employment Law Blog, Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and The Word on Employment Law.

While these analysis are helpful, we also have an opportunity to bring labor & employment law issues into the presidential forum through discussion and analysis. Indeed, each campaign has focused on some aspects of labor and employment law (like those found here (Obama) and here (McCain). 

So with that in mind, what one question would you like the debate moderators to ask each of the major party candidates?  If you’d like, just focus on one candidate or one issue you’d like each candidate to address. 

Here are my thoughts and I welcome you to post them in the comments below or on your own blog/website and let me know. 

Question for Obama:

You’re supported the Employee Free Choice Act.  One provision of the act would allow unions to organize based on a "card check" instead of a secret-ballot election, which some have claimed is undemocratic.  Why do you support such a provision and why should Americans support this bill?

Question for McCain:

On your website, you’ve indicated that you understand "that today’s changing economy is making it harder for parents to balance the demands of family life and their jobs."  A bill introduced by Senator Kennedy this year  (S. 1085) would give employees paid sick leave to care for their families.   Why haven’t you supported or co-sponsored this bill and why should Americans be against paid sick leave?

Question for Biden:

During this session of Congress, you have introduced over 100 bills. Yet none of them relate directly to labor and employment law issues.  Why is that and do you think that this area of the law really needs to change?

Question for Palin:

Your husband is a union member, a fact touted by your running mate earlier this month.  Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act? And if not, do you think that unions have enough support in existing laws?