Latest LoanStreet News
Aug 24, 2021
(BUSINESS NEWS) Although the federal government regulates certain employment laws, several practices are still regulated at a local level. Here’s why you should care about a new NYC ordinance. Published A New York City ordinance recently went into effect to protect fast food workers by challenging at-will employment. The ordinance gives employees of New York City’s fast food restaurants rights and protections that are typically only granted to union employees. Employers will be prohibited from firing employees or cutting their hours without Just Cause. In cases of economic reasons, employers will be required to lay off employees in order of seniority. Just Cause employment laws are not common outside of contracts and unions, so why should employers outside of NYC care about such a local ordinance? At-will employment is the standard in several states, like Texas, for example. Basically, it means that an employer can fire an employee at any time or an employee can quit at any time, unless they have a contract between them for a specified term. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Federal law makes it illegal to fire someone because of race, disability, age (if the person is over 40 years old), and religion, among other things. In Texas, there are a few other state exceptions. Employers can’t fire someone for serving on a jury or in retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim, for example. Just Cause systems still let employers fire workers, but they must provide a substantial reason. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) believes that adopting Just Cause protections creates a more racially just workplace. At-will systems harm minorities, specifically Black and Latinx workers. Just Cause employment reforms are becoming more popular. Technically speaking, an employer has the upper hand in employment practices. Under at-will employment laws, employers can terminate an employee without warning or explanation. A report from the NELP estimates that 50% of American workers have been impacted by unfair or arbitrary firings in their lifetime. Workers are often fearful to bring up problems in their workplace in at-will environments. The at-will system keeps workers from speaking out about sexual harassment or racial discrimination. NYC is not the only place adapting Just Cause employment reforms. Just this year, Illinois lawmakers introduced the Secure Jobs Act . Philadelphia was the first city in the United States to pass Just Cause legislation. It specifically applied to parking lot attendants. NELP research found that Just Cause policies are supported by both Republicans and Democrats. A February 2021 poll found that 71% of voters supported Just Cause laws. Just Cause reforms were building before the pandemic. The pandemic simply ramped up momentum to protect workers, but the practices of at-will systems that harm workers will continue after the pandemic. Dawn Brotherton is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future. Continue Reading Comment The wrong and right ways to mandate COVID vaccines for your employees (BUSINESS NEWS) Many are considering a COVID vaccine mandate for all employees, but you’d better read up so you don’t put your well-intentioned foot in your mouth. Published As businesses grapple with increasing pressure from consumers, employees, healthcare officials, and politicians to help crack down on the recent spike in COVID cases, many are considering the option of mandating vaccines for their staff. Some will leave it up to employees, others will require all employees to get vaccinated and return to the office – either way, read up on how not to screw this up. Should you choose to implement such a policy, it’s important to know what you can (and absolutely can’t) ask your employees to do – and how best to do it. To start, you need to consider exceptions. A blanket COVID vaccine mandate for your employees may sound comprehensive, but certain groups are exempt from vaccine requirements. Failing to take that into account will result in an illegal mandate. The ADA ( Americans With Disabilities Act ) is a good place to start regarding exceptions. According to the Act, you must exempt any employee who cannot receive the vaccine due to a disability of any kind (chronic illness, recovery from having COVID, an infection). Your solutions will vary, but may include having the employee work from home or allowing them to work in a private space. Employees should understand that, should their inability to receive the vaccine be temporary, they will be expected to receive it as soon as that inability lapses. The other exceptions about which you’ve likely heard are for pregnancies and religious preferences. The former is pretty cut-and-dry: If someone is pregnant and their obstetrician says they shouldn’t be vaccinated, follow ADA guidelines and can ask them to be vaccinated before returning from their leave. Religious exemptions are harder to discern since the official language references a “sincere” belief against COVID vaccines. While you can (and should) discuss fringe issues with this exemption with your attorney, keep in mind that it isn’t your job to determine whether or not your employees are serious about their faith, its extent, or its limitations. Your state or city may have further exemptions for you to consider, so consult any pertinent legislation before moving forward with your plan to implement a vaccine mandate. Once you have determined your exemptions, you’ll need to communicate a few things to your employees: A time frame for vaccination, the aforementioned exceptions, and the consequences for failing to follow your mandate. HR expert, Suzanne Lucas posits that three months is a reasonable window for eligible employees to get vaccinated; she also says that termination is an acceptable consequence for noncompliance. Lucas also recommends writing a “statement of need” to release to employees and/or the general public to address concerns and clear up confusion around what your new policy entails. This statement can be as simple as a quick acknowledgement of your decision, or you can elaborate on all of the above steps you’ve taken. As long as you’re following these steps and refraining from pressuring employees who are exempt, you should be in the clear to invoke a mandatory COVID vaccine policy for your workers if you so choose. But you also have the right not to. This decision isn’t being made lightly by any company as there is no playbook to use here – you’re not alone if you find this process to be difficult. The process of looking for a job is like a fingerprint: Everyone has one, but each person’s is unique. To wit, it makes sense that not everyone would look for the same aspects in a desirable job —and not everyone knows where to start the search. Here are some things to add to your list when surveying new job opportunities. There are some obvious attributes of any job search that come to mind. These things include salary, job duties, office location, workplace culture, and perhaps the likelihood of promotion after a few years. However, depending on what you want and how important each of those factors are to you, these items may be flexible—or even negligible—if they mean you can’t have something that, for you, is a crucial ancillary benefit. Such benefits are as numerous as they are personal. You might find something like in-facility services—car-washes, dining, or a gym, for example—to be a deal-breaker, or you might want an option that includes remote days in the contract. So, how do you account for all of the little perks you want in your ideal job? The answer, while time-intensive, is simple. Reddit user SCMX2000 recommends breaking down each large category of a job—salary, paid time off, medical, and so on—into subcategories of services and perks. For example, your “Salary” category might include the base salary, bonuses, frequency of payroll, whether or not you have a 401k, and so on. Once you have exhausted your list of categories and subcategories, you can go back through and figure out what your deal-breakers are. This way, you aren’t just setting a salary and payment schedule as your goal—you’re quantifying your own worth in material terms. If you go into a job hunt—and, later, an interview—with those in mind, you’re much more likely to get exactly what you want rather than an approximation. Of course, you might find yourself in the camp of “any job is fine” right now. If that’s the case, it’s still worth your time to classify your ideal job perks—should you find yourself in an interview where you have some autonomy, you’ll never regret being overprepared. One of the more clearly understood parts of capitalism entails letting consumers decide based on their available choices, and – should their decisions have a negative impact on your business – living with the consequences. But when a former employee levies criticism that can inspire those same deleterious effects, the correct course of action becomes a bit less clear. This lack of clarity is what inspired LoanStreet, a New York fintech startup, to file a $1 million defamation lawsuit against a former employee who left a scathing Glassdoor review. While the lawsuit has yet to lift off, it raises a serious question: Can you reasonably expect to be sued for roasting your old job? Wyatt Troia, a software engineer who worked for LoanStreet, claims that he was fired after assessing another employee’s code and reporting some mistakes. He also refers to LoanStreet using disparaging terms (The Hustle quotes him as calling the company “a raging dumpster fire”) and alleges that he never received the $100,000 in equity that he was promised. The Hustle also reports that Troia’s reviews were published on Reddit and Blind, with LoanStreet alleging that these reviews were made more visible to passersby courtesy of Google Ads for which Troia paid. LoanStreet also maintains that Troia was fired for routine reasons (i.e., poor performance) and that his allegations are incorrect, setting the stage for their defamation lawsuit against him. In the grand scheme of things, reviews such as Troia’s can have devastating implications for businesses – not just for their clients, but for prospective hires as well. The Hustle references this study in which a marketing firm found that up to a third of employees have turned down positions due to negative reviews. But LoanStreet sets a dangerous precedent with this lawsuit, suggesting that employees who leave on poor terms cannot criticize the way they were treated in an online space without severe financial repercussions. When faced with the option to critique (and possibly be fined heavily for it) or remain silent, most employees can’t afford to do anything but take the second choice. It is worth noting that similar lawsuits have been thrown out in the past, with Glassdoor ducking a potential fine for refusing to remove negative reviews on account of Glassdoor simply being the intermediary rather than the author. While Troia is both the author of the offending posts and the target of the lawsuit in this case, he may benefit from Glassdoor’s record.