Everybody in the Pool? • Oregon’s Retirement Program • NAACP Sues DHS

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By Jaclyn Diaz

Attorneys May File Lawsuit on Tip Pool

The Obama administration’s 2011 rule to ban certain tip pooling arrangements between front-of-house workers who earn tips and back-of-house workers who don’t is currently being challenged by employers in court. Now the DOL’s new proposal to rescind the rule may eventually lead to a lawsuit from worker advocates.

Lawyers tell Ben Penn in a story today they’re considering a potential lawsuit to block the rule, which they brand as President Donald Trump’s regulation to let restaurants steal their servers’ tips by allowing managers to share in the pools. The lawyers told Ben any lawsuit will not happen until after the DOL publishes a final version of the new rule. The takeaway for now is that the unexpectedly loud backlash following the DOL’s announcement that it wants to scrap the Obama rule isn’t going away any time soon.

Ben reported Thursday that DOL Solicitor Kate O’Scannlain could face some heat over her involvement in the new tip pool rulemaking. An ethics review recently determined that she won’t need to recuse herself even though her father, a federal appeals court judge, slammed the Obama rule in a related case.

Busy Beaver State

More Oregonians are stashing away their pennies under the nation’s first state-run retirement program for private sector workers, Madison Alder reports. California, Illinois, Maryland, and Connecticut are poised to follow soon with similar programs.

Oregon’s program is now three months old, and 300 employers registered with the system and 19,230 employees had active accounts as of Jan. 24, a spokesman for the program tells Madison. Workers can choose to opt out of the program. To date, about 20 percent of employees who would be eligible for the program had opted out.

Oregon’s program, like those in other states, requires businesses that don’t already offer a retirement savings plan to register with the program so their employees can be enrolled automatically in individual retirement accounts. The programs faced a hurdle when an Obama-era rule giving them the OK was pulled back by the Labor Department at the direction of Congress in 2017. There’s also a legal challenge pending in a federal court in Oregon over whether certain requirements of the program are barred by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Trump’s Language Prompts Lawsuit

The Trump administration’s decision to end temporary protected status for Haitians was borne of race discrimination and part of a larger agenda to reduce the number of immigrants of color coming to the U.S., the NAACP says in a newly filed lawsuit, Laura Francis reports.

The organization is basing that conclusion on reported statements earlier this month from President Donald Trump about Haiti and African nations, as well as several statements the president made on the campaign trail about Mexicans and Latinos. There was also an effort by the administration to dig up statistics about Haitians, based on “false anti-Black stereotypes about criminality and exploitation of public benefits,” the NAACP says.

It’s not the first lawsuit to rely on the president’s own statements. Lawsuits over the travel ban also cited Trump’s comments about Muslims in an effort to show the immigration policy discriminates against the Muslim community. The Supreme Court will hear the case over the most recent travel ban this term.

Other Stories We’re Watching

  • The National Labor Relations Board’s regional directors are expressing “grave” concerns about a proposal by the agency’s new general counsel to reorganize regional field offices and curb their power, Hassan Kanu reports.
  • A former personal assistant to Harvey Weinstein alleges in a sexual harassment lawsuit that he referred to her in derogatory terms, touched her inappropriately, and made her clean up after his encounters. Check back later for Gayle Cinquegrani‘s story.
  • An employer illegally threatened workers with a PowerPoint presentation warning that unionization would cause the workplace to “deteriorate,” the NLRB ruled Thursday. The Republican who dissented said the communications described a “fact” about industrial life and were lawful. Expect vigorous debate about the legal boundaries of employer speech once the president puts another Republican on the board. Check our website later for Lawrence E. Dube‘s story.
  • The First Circuitupheld a jury verdict for a Rhode Island lesbian ex-firefighter harassed by colleagues who used misogynistic and homophobic slurs. Epithets based on sexual orientation can bolster a sex discrimination claim under Title VII, the court said. Check back later for Jon Steingart‘s story.
  • Puerto Rico plans to sell its state-owned electric power authority to a private entity, and a coalition of the island’s unions want to stop the sale. Unionized utility workers and teachers fear other public sector workers will lose their jobs and other government agencies will also become privatized. Stay on top of this and other stories on our homepage.
  • As Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. continue the sixth round of NAFTA negotiations, the AFL-CIO and Mexico’s National Workers Union filed a complaint with the U.S. National Administrative Office of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation. The complaint alleges Mexico violates NAFTA’s labor standards as millions of the country’s workers have long work hours, low pay, and hazardous working conditions.
  • The Census Bureau releases its durable goods report at 8:30 a.m.
  • The Census Bureau also releases its advance economic indicators report on international trade, retail, and wholesale at the same time.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its gross domestic product report at 8:30 a.m.

In the Courts

A former police officer can’t proceed on his claim that race, not his use of excessive force on a prisoner, was the reason that the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia fired him, a federal judge ruled. The officer waited more than 90 days to sue after receiving his right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. For this story and more, check out our daily Latest Cases roundup.

Around the Web

  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tells reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that an increase in automation will not actually cause a significant drop in U.S. jobs, the Washington Post reports.
  • The Atlantic examines why a relatively small number of women are training for well-paying jobs in trades such as welding while substantially more of them are gravitating to lower-paying professions such as cosmetology.
  • Camera operators and technicians for the Golf Channel ratified a labor contract to end a strike that affected broadcast quality for the last couple of tournaments on the channel, Golfweek reports.
  • Warehouse workers are confident robots can’t perform their jobs, NPR reports.
  • New test results show monitoring for airborne radioactive contamination has not protected Hanford nuclear reservation workers in Washington state as the site’s highly contaminated Plutonium Finishing Plant is demolished, the Tri-City Herald reports.

Quote of the Day

“Once again, the Courts have allowed Goliath to force David to pursue his rights in arbitration.”

Steven A. Wade, the lawyer for an Uber driver who must take bias claims to arbitration

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