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#1 New court ruling could limit what Arizona employers can ask job applicants
Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, ruled employers can’t take a job applicant’s previous salary into account when determining their proposed pay at the new job.
In the case, Rizo V. Yovino (Links to an external site.), a former math teacher from Maricopa County went to work as a math consultant at the Fresno County Office of Education in California, but found out she was being paid less than her male counterpart.
Fresno County had a policy that new employee pay was expected to be at least 5 percent more than their prior salary. But the employee sued the county, saying that under the federal Equal Pay Act, just because she was paid less in Maricopa County, she didn’t deserve to be paid less than her fellow employees in Fresno County.
In an en banc case, a panel of 11 judges agreed and ruled that experience, education and prior work performance can factor into compensation, but past pay cannot.
“(This ruling) is consistent with the trend we are seeing on the legislative side,” said Jill Chasson (Links to an external site.), an attorney at Phoenix law firm Coppersmith Brockelman.
Chasson was referring to laws passed in California, Oregon and at the local level in San Francisco that prohibit employers from asking job candidates about their salary history. This is meant to keep employees at the same company on a level playing field.
Chasson said since Arizona falls underneath the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction, it would be smart if Arizona employers quit asking about prior salary in job interviews and when determining new hire pay. And for larger companies, she said they might want to looking into having an audit performed to make sure its compensation policies fall underneath the new guidelines. If they don’t, companies should look to rewrite them.
But things get complicated because other federal appeals courts have ruled on similar issues, but not in the same way. So businesses that operate outside of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington don’t fall under the strict ruling, Chasson said.
“The conflict among the courts … could play into whether the Supreme Court will bring this case up,” Chasson said.
It could be a long time until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on this case — if it ever decides to — so Chasson suggests employers, HR professionals and recruiters take that question out when talking to potential employees.
A better question, Chasson suggests, would be “How much do you expect to be paid?”
Source: Phoenix Business Journal, May 1, 2018https://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2018/05/01/new-court-ruling-could-limit-what-arizona.html (Links to an external site.)
#2 Bartenders and restaurant servers may get a bump in pay thanks to court ruling.
Restaurant servers and bartenders who make money on tips can’t be paid less than minimum wage when doing certain tasks, according to a ruling this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The court agreed with a lawsuit filed by 14 bartenders and servers who said they were underpaid for work (Links to an external site.) they had done that did not allow them to receive tips, according to KTAR.com and Cronkite News.
The ruling would require Arizona restaurants to keep track of employees’ duties while working and making sure they were paid accordingly.
Restaurants could now have to figure out how to calculate those times when employees are not working for tips.
Source: Phoenix Business Journal, September 20, 2018https://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2018/09/20/appeals-court-rules-for-arizona-restaurant-servers.html (Links to an external site.)
Also see:
https://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/workforce/court-clears-way-servers-sue-full-minimum-wage (Links to an external site.)
#3 Phoenix airport workers ask city to investigate claims of age, sex discrimination.
Female airport restaurant employees and a union representing hospitality workers have asked the city of Phoenix’s Equal Opportunity Department to investigate allegations of sex and age discrimination by HMS Host, a major concessionaire at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
The complaints filed Dec. 1 allege that older female HMS Host employees had their hours cut, were assigned more difficult work than their younger and male counterparts, and were subject to offensive comments about their age from their managers. This follows complaints they made earlier this year and last year with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which are still under investigation.
A spokeswoman from HMS Host, one of two concessionaires that run restaurants and bars inside Sky Harbor, said the company could not at this time comment on the allegations and the letters sent to the city.
Debra Ann Rutkowski, 59, worked as a bartender at Sky Harbor for 13 years. Until a few years ago she said she had no issues with her bosses but when a new manager came on Rutkowski claims that she and other employees like her were treated differently.
“I noticed how much more poorly management treated other older women bartenders when compared to men in the workplace,” Rutkowski told the Business Journal. “The consistent mistreatment and pressure I experienced at work left me very stressed.”
Rutkowski has asthma and said her manager started giving her fewer shifts and allegedly referred to her as an “old hag who’s wheezing and coughing.” After having her hours reduced, Rutkowski said she made complaints to HMS Host’s human resources department, but she said that only led to worse treatment from her manager.
“I can’t believe how blatant it was,” she said. “The other managers helped covered it up and followed along.”
Rutowski left her job at the airport in 2019.
Another Sky Harbor bartender, 53-year-old Tracy Gunderson, filed an official complaint with the federal government and the city of Phoenix alleging discrimination.
“Eventually I came to learn through other employees that my supervisor’s unfair treatment wasn’t simply because he disliked me,” Gunderson said in a statement, “It was because I and other older women servers and bartenders had, in his view, ‘aged out of the business’ and ought to be pushed out of the workplace.”
Gunderson, who has worked at HMS Host for nine years, is currently laid off because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
These women and the local chapter of Unite Here, the restaurant server and the hospitality workers’ union, are making the allegations while the union is negotiating a contract with HMS Host, and HMS Host is seeking rent relief and a lease extension with the city of Phoenix, which owns Sky Harbor Airport.
“The city should not award HMS Host, or any employer, with a lease extension while there are serious allegations of discrimination that need to be investigated,” Danna Schneider, organizing director with Unite Here Local 11, said in a statement. “Discrimination on the basis of age or gender would be a clear violation of the terms of the company’s lease with the city.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has been rough for airport restaurants. Not only are fewer people using commercial airlines right now, but the restaurant spaces in the airport were not designed in a way that makes socially distancing easy. Of the 136 total concessions operating at Sky Harbor, only 39% are currently open for business.
HMS Host had to furlough 756 associates earlier this year and has recalled 347 employees, but only 253 have come back.
Unite Here also represents employees of SSP, the other major concessionaire at Sky Harbor. SSP also is seeking a lease extension and rent relief, but the union has not made similar public statements and complaints against that company.
Source: Phoenix Business Journal, December 4, 2020https://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2020/12/04/airport-workers-ask-city-to-investigate-claims-of.html (Links to an external site.)

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