President Obama standing at podium speaking outside

How the Obama Administration May Have Improved Your Job

Workers Rights Protected by New Federal Regulations

New federal regulations are here to protect employee rights. If you work for a company that does business with the federal government, you just might be seeing some changes. Under new rules and regulations laid out by the Obama Administration and the Department of Labor, workers’ rights are trumping the power of Corporate America.

New Regulations for Companies Receiving Federal Contracts

The proposed new rules will prohibit:

  • fine print on workers’ contracts that force workers with grievances out of court and into arbitration
  • corporations with repeated safety violations and wage theft accusations from receiving federal contracts

What New Regulations Mean for Employees

While it seems logical that corporations who egregiously endanger their employees and/or withhold money from their pay should be ineligible for federal contracts, this is currently not the case. According to the Department of Labor, out of the largest wage and hour violators, nearly two-thirds of them received federal contracts. Of the 50 largest safety violations, nearly 40 percent of those companies received federal contracts.

Automatic arbitration is something most employees don’t consider when signing a contract. Many, if they notice, are told a signature is required to work there or to keep their job. The worker sees no other options. What the worker doesn’t realize is that often these arbitrations are biased on behalf of the employer.

Arbitration means it’s impossible for workers to band together in what often is a successful legal strategy to taking on big business — the class action or collective action lawsuit. While one employee’s claims are powerful, documented groups of claims are impossible to ignore. By making arbitration mandatory, companies are killing the class action suit.

Killing the class action suit also makes it difficult to prove legal claims like pay inequality where a large group is needed to establish trends. For instance, an employee claiming she receives less pay for the same job than her male counterparts is an anomaly. However, fifty out of sixty-five female employees claiming the same thing is a perceived trend and a good case to argue pay inequality.

Another important thing to know about arbitration is that the Company that supplies the Arbitrator and the rules for arbitration is most likely selected by the employer. Even though an employee has a voice in which individual arbitrator is selected, it is clearly to the employer’s advantage to be the one selecting what rules apply and the pool from which the arbitrator is selected. It’s no surprise then that these arbitrators often side with the employers and that means lower awards for employees. A study out of Cornell University found that in 4,000 arbitration cases where employees alleged workplace discrimination, arbitrators sided with employees only 21 percent of the time. In court they won between 50-60 percent of the time.

Putting an end to forced arbitration through these new regulations is a very large step for civil rights and the rights of the worker. These new regulations follow another step forward in civil rights for the president and his administration. In the summer of 2014, he banned federal contractors from discriminating against gay workers.

Do you have a workplace discrimination case?

Staying on top of the rules and regulations involving worker’s rights is hard, that’s why if you think you’ve been discriminated against or your employee rights have been violated, you need someone knowledgeable in employment law. Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today. The initial consultation is free.

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