November 15, 2021, marked the beginning of the seventh annual National Apprenticeship week. That same day, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposal to rescind its regulation and recently established framework regarding Standards Recognition Entities (SREs) of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). To succeed, industries offering apprenticeships need consistent rules and regulations that do not change at the whim of the executive branch. Passing the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (Act) is one way that Congress can support established registered apprenticeship programs.
On October 21, 2021, actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injured director Joel Souza on the set of the western film, Rust. Details of the tragic accident are still surfacing, but the incident has already sparked debate over the safety of cast and crew in Hollywood. With access to so much technology and computer-generated work behind the scenes, there is no longer a need for real guns in Hollywood. Despite the regulations on guns on Hollywood film sets, accidents still happen. Cast and crew should not have to risk their lives over something that is one hundred percent preventable.
An earlier blog post explored the challenges of employees returning to work, including questions about the legality of COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In response to the uptick in cases towards the end of the summer and into the fall, many large employers implemented vaccine mandates. As vaccine mandates have increased, so have the lawsuits contesting them. As of October 14, 2021, there have been at least thirty-nine federal cases contesting vaccine requirements imposed by either employers or governments and approximately fifty-seven total decisions, including federal and state cases. In most cases, courts are denying requests for temporary injunctions against the mandates or dismissing the cases.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (“the Act”), enacted in 1938, protects public and private employees with a federal minimum wage, requirements for overtime pay, and youth employment standards. Despite protections established for children under the Act, children in the entertainment industry are expressly excluded from its protections. Instead, minors in the entertainment industry must rely on state regulation of their employment, which is often stricter and more protective than the Act. However, there is a massive loophole in that the entertainment industry in most states does not include child influencers and social media stars. With the increase in social media in the last decade, children in the social media sector are left in limbo about their rights and employment protections. State entertainment laws for minors must be extended to include the fast-growing number of children growing up in social media fame.
The signing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 decreased workplace deaths and injuries in the United States. Signed by President Richard Nixon more than fifty years ago, the purpose of the law is to secure “safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” One reason for enacting the law was to address the substantial financial burden that workplace injuries and illnesses put on interstate commerce. However, it is estimated that as of 2018, employers still spent an average of 1 billion dollars per week on workers’ compensation costs. This high price of workplace injuries can be reduced through more rigorous education and training for employees. Employers should be required to implement increased training and education to employees. Doing so would strengthen OSHA’s regulatory effect with a decrease in workplace incidents and the high price associated with them.
Despite the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, many Americans are still returning to the office. Kastle Systems, a large security services provider, reported that an average of 32.1 percent of employees across ten big cities were returning to work as of August 11, 2021. On August 23, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) granted full approval to Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. Polls have shown that the FDA approval will lead to an increase in vaccinations. While many people are not going back to the office, most Americans do have plans to return to work. As a result, employers are working to create return-to-work plans, while employees are left wondering about the extent of their rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) covers employers with 15 or more employees, including government employers, agencies, and labor organizations. The ADA imposes restrictions on the amount and type of medical information that an employer may obtain from an employee or applicant in order to prevent discrimination on the basis of a disability. The ADA has been dissected to better understand the regulations that govern the return to the workplace.
On Friday, April 9th, Amazon successfully withstood the largest push for unionization yet for its U.S. workers when its Bessemer, Ala. warehouse employees voted ‘no’ to unionizing. The final tally of ballots showed only 738 votes in favor of joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (“RWDSU”) compared to 1,798 votes against it. After a tally, any party may file objections to the conduct of the election or to conduct affecting the election’s results—and the RWDSU is doing just that.
In February 2021, McKinsey and Company’s 650 global partners turned down Kevin Sneader’s bid for a second three-year term as the firm’s lead partner. The rejection marked the first time in 40 years the storied consulting firm has opted not to offer its leader a second term. The vote came as McKinsey struggles to reconcile its lucrative business model with a series of ethical lapses that have been widely reported in the press, litigated in the courts, and questioned by some of the firm’s next generation of leaders.
On March 11, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced plans to rescind two final rules that the Biden Administration said would have significantly weakened protections for workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act(“FLSA”).
As March starts and we enter Women’s History Month, Time Magazine, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNBC, The Washington Post, and more wrote articles on the unique and disproportionate effects that COVID-19 has had on women. However, by focusing exclusively on the effect of COVID-19 on women, we ignore the impacts faced by gender non-binary people. This approach leaves many people to continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, as economic impacts cannot be addressed and answered, if they are not first acknowledged.
The United States’ current systems and its response to COVID-19 has failed to serve many people, in fact, the pandemic has amplified existing economic and social inequalities. If we are to resolve these inequalities, instead of focusing on the disproportionate effects experienced by cis-gender women, the focus should shift towards marginalized people, such as, cis and transgender women, and non-binary individuals. This article takes a limited approach due to its length, and it focuses on the effects COVID-19 has had on women, and the transgender and non-binary community, where the United States needs to acknowledge the economic inequalities these people face and change the current systems.