Tag Archives labor

Amazon has opened Amazon Go, a grocery store using artificial intelligence (AI), prompting speculation about its potential effects on the labor market, worries about consumer privacy and skepticism about how well it will work. Shoppers scan a smartphone app at a turnstile as they enter, then items are added to a virtual shopping cart as shoppers pull them off the shelf. If the shopper puts the item back on a shelf, the item is deleted from the cart. When shoppers leave the store, their credit cards are charged for the total. The store reportedly uses machine learning algorithms and computer-vision image processing along with weight sensors, camera-friendly bar codes and infrared sensors to track products as they leave shelves and the store. The store's technology hit speed bumps before its unveiling. Amazon Go’s opening was delayed by a year as the company fine-tuned and tested the technology; among early bugs was…

A former employee has filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging Five Guys Operations paid female employees less than similarly situated male employees, echoing a similar lawsuit she filed in 2016. Finefrock v. Five Guys Operations, LLC, No. 17-2214 (M.D. Pa., filed December 1, 2017). The plaintiff asserts that after she and two other female general managers confronted executives about the alleged pay disparity, she was placed on a performance improvement plan and later fired. Alleging violations of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the plaintiffs seek class certification, damages, back and front pay and attorney’s fees.

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a proposal to allow some employers to use tip sharing among tipped and non-tipped workers, rescinding portions of the tip regulations in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The proposal would apply only to employers who pay the full minimum wage to employees and do not take a tip credit. DOL will accept public comment on the proposed changes until January 4, 2018.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a New York City law requiring fast-food restaurants to remit voluntary deductions from employees' wages to nonprofit groups, including “ideological and political organizations with whom those employers may and do disagree.” Rest. Law Ctr. v. City of New York, No. 17-9128 (S.D.N.Y., filed November 21, 2017). NRA asserts that the city’s “Deduction Bill,” which took effect November 26, 2017, violates the free speech rights of restaurant owners by compelling them to subsidize nonprofits that advocate for labor-related issues such as higher minimum wages. The law resulted from lobbying by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the complaint argues, and is ultimately intended to force restaurants to allow unionization of fast-food employees. The Deduction Bill bars labor organizations from seeking remittances, but NRA asserts that “Fast Food Justice,” a group working toward registration as a qualifying nonprofit, shares a mailing…

A former employee of Shake Shack Inc. has alleged he was fired after complaining about health and safety violations at one of the company’s New York City locations. Via v. Shake Shack Inc., No. 17-7049 (S.D.N.Y., filed September 14, 2017). The plaintiff alleges that managers of one location fired him after he complained that, among other allegations, they (i) failed to train employees about food allergies; (ii) allowed visibly sick workers to prepare food; and (iii) failed to properly clean the kitchen and equipment. Recent New York City health inspections cited the location for the presence of food/refuse/sewage-associated flies found in food and non-food areas, contaminated and cross-contaminated food and food contact surfaces that had not been sanitized. Claiming retaliation in violation of state laws, the plaintiff seeks $1 million in damages.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published a guide encouraging agricultural companies to enact child-­labor policies to combat abuse in the industry. The guide offers "practical steps to ensure that programmes contribute to safe employment and training opportunities for youth and that activities intended to support vulnerable families do not have the unintended consequence of encouraging child labour," according to a June 12, 2017, press release. "The agriculture sector holds great potential before, during and after crises, to save lives and contribute to livelihoods, support rural households, provide decent employment and alternatives to child labour, including its worst forms," FAO Assistant Director-General Kostas Stamoulis was quoted as saying.   Issue 638

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. won decertification of a class action comprising more than 500 management trainees in 37 states when a federal court ruled that there were too many differences in the trainees’ ability to perform managerial duties, causing the action to fail the predominance test. Scott v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., No. 12-­8333, (S.D.N.Y., order entered March 29, 2017). Seven named plaintiffs won conditional class certification in June 2013, after which 516 additional plaintiffs opted in. The plaintiffs, who worked as “apprentices,” were temporary workers training for positions as restaurant general managers. The complaint alleged apprentices were classified as exempt and illegally denied overtime even if they spent most of their time on non­managerial tasks such as preparing food or serving customers, violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state labor laws. However, the court found that the plaintiffs’ testimony contained too much conflicting information about the apprentices’…

A Brazilian appeals court has reportedly affirmed a lower court’s order to AmBev S/A to pay a former employee about $14,800 for moral damages related to his job as a beer taster, which he alleged led to his alcoholism. AmBev argued that it was not liable because the employee’s beer-tasting activities were voluntary. The court disagreed, finding that employers have a duty to avoid exposing their employees to the “inherent risks of the job activities,” even if voluntary. AmBev failed to demonstrate the proper care toward the plaintiff’s health, the court held, because it did not monitor his health throughout his employment as a beer taster, it did not train him on the symptoms of alcoholism or other related conditions, and it told him that if he was declared addicted he would need to seek treatment himself. See Superior Council of Labor Justice (Conselho Superior da Justiça do Trabalho), November 28,…

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against two Washington companies—Washington Potato and Pasco Processing—for allegedly discriminating against immigrants during the employment eligibility verification process. United States v. Wash. Potato Co., No. 16-1320 (D.O.J., filed November 14, 2016). The complaint alleges the companies required non-U.S. citizens to submit specific documentation to process the Form I-9 and E-Verify while allowing U.S. citizens more flexibility in their documentation. “Federal law protects individuals with legal work authorization from facing discriminatory obstacles during employment eligibility verification,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a November 14, 2016, press release. “All people with legal employment status in the United States must receive an equal opportunity to prove they can work, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.”   Issue 623

A Massachusetts federal court has granted certification to a class of former and current delivery drivers for Domino’s Pizza Inc. who allege that they should have received the delivery charge paid by customers. Mooney v. Domino’s Pizza, Inc., No. 14-13723 (D. Mass., order entered September 1, 2016). The plaintiffs also asserted that they should have been paid minimum wage for “inside work” unrelated to deliveries, rather than the lower minimum wage for tipped workers. The court focused on whether the plaintiffs’ claims were common to all members of the class. Domino’s and its franchisee argued the classification of the delivery fee as a service charge—which is to compensate employees for service and to be remitted to the employees under Massachusetts law—or an administrative fee “depends on the circumstances of each customer’s encounter with the delivery fee,” thus precluding commonality. The court disagreed, finding that “the plain language of the statute suggests…

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