In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed to change part of how employees are classified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Exempt basically means exempt from the overtime premium rate required by the FLSA, and employees are generally exempt only if they meet a specific exemption defined in the law. Executives, learned professionals, certain administrators, creative professionals and computer workers, and inside salespeople are typically exempt.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the number of sexual harassment complaints rose 12 percent during its last fiscal year, the first rise in complaint levels in 10 years. The number of sexual harassment lawsuits the agency filed was also up by 50 percent over the previous fiscal year. The timing of these increases suggests that the #MeToo movement has had an influence.
As an employee, you expect your workplace not only to be safe, healthy and secure but also free from harassment and other debilitating intra-company personal interactions. Unfortunately, however, your particular workplace may not live up to your expectations, especially if you must work with or around one or more bullies.
When it comes to the "gig economy," one of the more controversial issues is how Uber, Lyft, Amazon and other companies save money by classifying their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Contract workers aren't eligible for many standard workplace benefits and protections, such as employer-paid payroll taxes, access to workers' compensation and unemployment insurance, and the right to be paid the overtime premium rate. They're not even guaranteed the minimum wage.
In March, the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica released an exposé on alleged age discrimination at IBM. In May, a 60-year-old IBM employee from Texas who was laid off last year filed a federal lawsuit accusing the company of targeting older workers for layoffs. Now, three former employees from New York have filed a class action complaining that they, too, were laid off because of their ages, which range from 55 to 67.
"What our investigation indicated is that Walmart had a robust light duty program that allowed workers with lifting restrictions to be accommodated," the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a statement. "But Walmart deprived pregnant workers of the opportunity to participate in its light duty program. This amounted to pregnancy discrimination, which violates federal law."