Late last year we wrote about an expected employment law change in Washington, D.C., on the issue of minimum wage. This month, the mayor finally signed a bill into law that raises the minimum wage in the District of Columbia from the federally mandated $7.25 an hour to $11.50 per hour. This new rate is one of the highest in the country. Lawmakers have said that they raised it in order to help provide a living wage for everyone working in our nation’s capital, which has a very high cost of living compared with other parts of the country.
A woman’s legal action to enforce her right to breast pump at work under a provision of the Affordable Care Act is moving forward. It is the first federal lawsuit filed under the new law, which entitles women to a clean, private, non-bathroom space to pump. There are various reasons why this is important, including hygiene and cleanliness for the milk and safety and privacy for the woman. Providing this space makes it possible for women to continue to breast-feed after they have returned to work from maternity leave if they so choose.
The number of job discrimination claims filed during fiscal year 2013 was down from historic highs reached over the past three years. Experts say that tough economic times are often related to an increase in these types of lawsuits. It is not clear why this relationship exists, but it could be a result of the difficulty of finding a new job after discrimination costs an employee their old job, amplifying the sense of injustice that one might feel after losing their job because of their race, religion, or disability status.
A former punter for the NFL is in a conflict with his former team over whether he was terminated as a result of his advocacy in favor of same-sex marriage. Chris Kluwe was known by sports fans as a punter for the Vikings before he was compelled to take action and speak out on the issue of same-sex marriage. Now Mr. Kluwe says that his activism made him a target on the team and that his boss made homophobic comments and eventually fired him for his comments supporting the gay community. Now many are watching as an independent investigation proceeds and Mr. Kluwe engages in a media campaign to prove that he was fired for the wrong reasons.
Most readers know that under the Family Medical Leave Act, employees are eligible to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a new baby or an immediate family member who is ill. However, because of restrictions on the law (size of the company, for one), about 40 percent of American workers qualify for the leave. Some employees are also lucky enough to have jobs that will pay them for a portion of that time, but many must have a difficult decision to stay home and care for a loved one and forgo pay. The main benefit of taking leave under the FMLA is that it is job-protected, so an employer cannot replace you while you are gone and cannot discriminate against you or punish you when you return.