140 Why Corporations are the WORST
I mean, it’s not like we all don’t already know but today we talk about how they operate like (horrible) private governments, dig into the ridiculousness around noncompetes and the like and, of course, go off on SEVERAL related rants.
In This Episode
Notes from today’s episode:
Dictatorships / Governments
Source: How bosses are (literally) like dictators (Vox)
Over time, national governments have become “public,” but in the US workplace governments remain resolutely “private”
Like Louis XIV’s government, the typical American workplace is kept private from those it governs. Managers often conceal decisions of vital interest to their workers. Often, they don’t even give advance notice of firm closures and layoffs. They are free to sacrifice workers’ dignity in dominating and humiliating their subordinates. Most employer harassment of workers is perfectly legal, as long as bosses mete it out on an equal-opportunity basis. (Walmart and Amazon managers are notorious for berating and belittling their workers.) And workers have virtually no power to hold their bosses accountable for such abuses: They can’t fire their bosses, and can’t sue them for mistreatment except in a very narrow range of cases, mostly having to do with discrimination.
Scotts, the lawn care company, fired an employee for smoking off duty. After Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) notified Lakeland Bank that an employee had complained he wasn’t holding town hall meetings, the bank intimidated her into resigning. San Diego Christian College fired a teacher for having premarital sex — and hired her fiancé to fill her post.
Additional Resource: Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Corporations Are Dictatorships (Daily Kos)
Efficiency & No transparency over pay, benefits, etc.
Source: How bosses are (literally) like dictators (Vox)
It’s also easy to theorize that workers are better off under employer dictatorship, because managers supposedly know best to govern the workplace efficiently. But if efficiency means that workers are forced to pee in their pants, why shouldn’t they have a say in whether such “efficiency” is worthwhile? The long history of American workers’ struggles to get the right to use the bathroom at work — something long enjoyed by our European counterparts — says enough about economists’ stunted notion of efficiency.
Meanwhile, our false rhetoric of workers’ “choice” continues to obscure the ways the state is handing ever more power to workplace dictators. The Trump administration’s Labor Department is working to roll back the Obama administration’s expansion of overtime pay. It is giving a free pass to federal contractors who have violated workplace safety and federal wage and hours laws. It has canceled the paycheck transparency rule, making it harder for women to know when they are being paid less for the same work as men.
Trump Revoked 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces
Source: Trump Pulls Back Obama-Era Protections For Women Workers (NBC News)
Fair Pay Order
The Fair Pay order made employers submit salary details to the government that would show massive wage gaps like Wal-Mart’s. It also made employers show overtime and deductions on paychecks so workers could make sure they were being paid exactly as they were supposed to.
On March 27, Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order then-President Barack Obama put in place to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with 14 labor and civil rights laws.
Forced Arbitration Clauses
— also sometimes called “cover-up clauses” by critics — are commonly used to keep sex discrimination claims out of the courts and off the public record.
“Arbitrations are private proceedings with secret filings and private attorneys, and they often help hide sexual harassment claims,” said Maya Raghu, Director of Workplace Equality at the National Women’s Law Center. “It can silence victims. They may feel afraid of coming forward because they might think they are the only one, or fear retaliation.”
Mandatory arbitration clauses are increasingly used in employment contracts, said Raghu, who added that banning the process was an important step forward for victims of workplace harassment or assault.
Many learned about forced arbitration clauses for the first time just last year through the Fox News sexual harassment case. Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson dodged her own contract’s arbitration clause by directly suing former CEO Roger Ailes rather than the company. Ailes’ lawyers accused Carlson of breaching her contract, and pressed for the private arbitration to try to keep the story out of courts and the public record.
Employment at will
Source: Employment at Will: What It Really Means in California (Society for Human Resource Management)
Model Employment-at-Will Statement for California Employers
“I acknowledge that my employment is at will and for no specific duration. Either I or the company may terminate my employment at any time, with or without cause or prior notice. My employment-at-will status cannot be changed except in a writing signed by the president of the company.”
Employment at will simply means that an employer cannot be sued for breach of an implied contract requiring a showing of good cause for termination. It does not mean that an employer may not be sued for other employment wrongs, such as discrimination, retaliation, violations of specific statutes (including those protecting whistle-blowers or employees who take family or medical leave) or for terminations that violate public policies set forth in statutes or regulations.
Exceptions to Employment-at-will
Source: The employment-at-will doctrine: three major exceptions (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Public-policy exception (42 states)
Under the public-policy exception to employment at will, an employee is wrongfully discharged when the termination is against an explicit, well-established public policy of the State.
For example, in most States, an employer cannot terminate an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim after being injured on the job, or for refusing to break the law at the request of the employer.
Implied-contract exception (36 states)
The second major exception to the employment-at-will doctrine is applied when an implied contract is formed between an employer and employee, even though no express, written instrument regarding the employment relationship exists. Although employment is typically not governed by a contract, an employer may make oral or written representations to employees regarding job security or procedures that will be followed when adverse employment actions are taken. If so, these representations may create a contract for employment.
Covenant-of-good-faith exception (11 states)
…reads a covenant of good faith and fair dealing into every employment relationship. It has been interpreted to mean either that employer personnel decisions are subject to a “just cause” standard or that terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice are prohibited.
In Lawrence M. Cleary v. American Airlines, Inc., an American Airlines employee who had worked satisfactorily for the company for 18 years was terminated without any reason given. A California appellate court held that, in virtue of the airline’s express policy of adjudicating personnel disputes and the longevity of the employee’s service, the employer could not fire the employee without good cause. The court stated that “Termination of employment without legal cause after such a period of time offends the implied-in-law covenant of good faith and fair dealing” and that, from the covenant, “a duty arose on the
part of…American Airlines…to do nothing which would deprive…the employee…of the benefits of the employment…having accrued during [the employee’s] 18 years of employment.”
Source: Unemployment Benefits: What If You Quit? (Nolo)
Won’t go too into it, but there’s a lot of ways in which you can be denied unemployment. You can’t get it if you quit without good cause, or if you were fired for intentional insolence.
To collect unemployment benefits, employees must be out of work through no fault of their own. Workers who lose their jobs in a layoff are clearly eligible for benefits, as are most employees who are fired for reasons other than serious misconduct.
For example, it might make sense to leave a job that doesn’t offer opportunities for advancement, but a worker who makes this choice won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits. Similarly, some people quit their jobs because they find the work unfulfilling or they want to pursue an entirely different career path. These decisions may lead to a better quality of life and higher job satisfaction — but what they won’t lead to is an unemployment check.
In some states, former employees are eligible for benefits if they leave a job for compelling personal reasons — for example, to relocate when a spouse gets a distant job or because a family emergency requires the worker to be home. In other states, benefits are available only if the employee’s reasons for quitting are related to the job
Source: Harassment (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
Lack of Choice
Source: Every Aspect of Your Life is Controlled by Only a Handful of Companies (The Hustle)
Source: What you should know about noncompete agreements (PBS)
By signing a noncompete agreement, an employee agrees that they will not go to work at a rival company if they quit.
Roughly 20% of United States workers are operating under a noncompete, and about 37% have signed one in their lifetime.
There is no federal law on noncompetes; every state has its own noncompete law.
Source: Non-competition Agreements: 10 Cautionary Thoughts (Lorman Education Services)
Noncompetes typically last for 1-3 years after employment and are generally restricted to a geographic area near or surrounding your place of employment
*TIP: negotiate pay for duration of noncompete during job offer period
Source: 50 State Noncompete Chart (Beck Reed Riden)
Allowed in ALL states except: CA, ND, OK
When restricted, the restrictions are largely just for people in the healthcare industries and broadcasters
Source: Noncompete Clauses Increasingly Pop Up in Array of Jobs (NY Times)
Noncompetes are popping up everywhere – including sandwich shops, hair salons and minimum wage jobs
Free Markets Don’t Exist
Source: Like Unicorns, The Free Market is a Myth (Climate and Capitalism)
Links and Information
- Guardian Takes Editorial Position: And It’s Pro-Vegan (Plant Based News)
- New Tool Helps Art Lovers Find Vegan Tattoo Artists (VegNews)