Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Call Me Karnak: How I Did On My Predictions For 2015

It's time to see how I did on my predictions for 2015. I have to say, I did pretty well. See for yourself. Here's what I predicted, and what really happened:

1. Intern sexual harassment: I predicted that Miami-Dade County would follow Broward County's lead and pass an ordinance banning sexual harassment of interns. Boy, was I wrong. Broward's proposed ordinance stalled indefinitely. Miami-Dade did nothing to protect interns. I predicted a bill would be introduced in the Florida legislature, but that Republicans in charge of both houses and the governorship would block it. I was right. On the national front, I correctly predicted we'd see a move afoot in other states to pass a law similar to the ones passed in California, New York, Oregon and Illinois. This year Connecticut and New Jersey passed legal protection for interns and a bill was introduced in Michigan.

2. Micro-unions: I predicted that micro-unions would start popping up more in 2015, but it seems that there wasn't exactly a rush to unionize small groups of employees of bigger employers. Still, there were a few micro-unions that were voted in in 2015. A small group of Volkswagen skilled trade employees were approved to vote on unionizing. Pharmacists at a Target in Brooklyn voted in a micro-union, giving unions a foothold for the first time in the mega-retailer. It wasn't the woe-is-me rush that anti-union folks predicted, but it's a start.

3. Minimum wage: I predicted that 2015 wouldn't be as big a year for increases because it isn't an election year, but that we'd see some more states and local governments raise the minimum wage to over $10/hour. Rhode Island passed an increase to $9.60 an hour, so very close but no cigar. Cities did better by their workers in 2015. Los Angeles and Sacramento raised their minimum wage to $10.50. Mountain View, Santa Clara and Palo Alto, CA and Santa Fe, NM went up to $11.00. Mountain View's rate will gradually reach $15.00 in 2018. Portland, ME went to $10.10.

4. Obama as employee advocate: I predicted that President Obama would continue to use executive orders to push for employee rights, and he certainly did that. I predicted that his push to pass a paid sick leave law would fail and that members of Congress with elephantitis would do everything they could to make sure workers remain oppressed and that certainly happened. For more about what President Obama did with his pen, check out my blog post on it here.

5. Gay marriage: I predicted that we'd continue to see marriage equality expand. Yep. Called that one.

6. Marijuana: I predicted that legalized marijuana and medical marijuana would continue to expand, but not one new state legalized it in 2015. However, Delaware finally restarted its medical marijuana program this year and opened its first dispensary. Illinois also opened up its first dispensary. Some states added certain medical conditions to their approved list of conditions for which marijuana could be prescribed. So there was movement, but not the surge I expected. Several states are trying again next year. I predicted that employees who use marijuana for medical purposes would continue to get fired due to lack of laws protecting them even when they have a prescription, and that definitely happened.

7. Republican roll-back: I predicted that Republicans would try to roll back worker rights. I predicted they'd attack the Fair Labor Standards Act. They did, trying to pass legislation to allow comp time instead of overtime pay. I said they'd attack the NLRB. They did, as they tried to reverse NLRB's ruling on franchises as joint employers and on simplifying union elections. I said they'd try to repeal Obamacare. They did. I said President Obama would veto these efforts. He did.

8. Noncompetes come into question: I predicted we'd start to see some antitrust investigations of the more extreme and abusive noncompete agreements. Michigan legislators took a swing at noncompetes, as did Maryland and Rhode Island legislators, but didn't manage to ban them yet. I said there will be another effort in Massachusetts to ban them, but it will likely fail. So far, there's no ban there, but legislation is still pending. I predicted no states would ban them yet, but that eyes would begin to open on how abusive they can be. I was actually wrong, since Hawaii banned noncompete agreements for many tech workers this year. Senator Franken has introduced legislation to ban noncompetes against low wage workers. A $415 million settlement in a no-poach agreement case should also shake some employers up to the implications of illegally barring employees from working for competitors.

9. Gridlock: I predicted that zero would actually happen on the national level. ENDA, Civil Rights Tax Fairness Act, FAMILY Act, and Arbitration Fairness Act. Nothing happened.

10. Ban the box: I predicted more states and local governments would ban employers from asking about arrests and convictions on applications, and would limit the use of convictions found in background checks to those that are actually relevant to the job sought. Georgia, Hawaii, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Virginia brought the total to 19 states and over 100 municipalities that have passed some form of ban-the-box legislation, policy or executive order. President Obama has also banned the box for federal employers.

Overall, I think I did pretty well in predicting 2015. Next, I'll share my predictions for 2016.


  1. Interesting, per the Target pharmacist I talked to on Sunday, as of last Wednesday 12/16/15 Target pharmacies are now CVS pharmacies.

    1. Yeah, they announced that change earlier this year: http://consumerist.com/2015/06/15/cvs-buying-targets-pharmacy-business-for-1-9-billion/

      We just received a notification that the Target Pharmacy Rewards are being phased out as well, and they sent us an extra 5% coupon since it will no longer be possible to earn or use points in the future.

  2. I hope your 2016 predictions include women winning against Walmart. The approach thus far has been all wrong. Walmart prefers ballsy people. "Whiners" are treated with disdain and pushed out. Women who are tough...well they better be Wonder Woman and carry an Anti-BS shield. The deplorable thing isn't just that women don't fare well (I'm talking about the Home Office here, but ok also in the stores), but that people pay the Walmart price with stress, depression and broken relationships. Sorry, I'm just angry because I stupidly quit, and also because another former coworker committed suicide. I guess I'm the winner because I'm still breathing.


I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.