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Friday, January 12, 2018

How I Did On My 2017 Predictions

Last year my predictions were all gloom and doom. After all, Republicans have control of the Presidency, the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court. Plus they are appointing federal judges in droves after holding up those appointments for years under President Obama. I expected a quick rain of disaster for employees. I was only partially wrong. It's been more like a series of showers.

Here's how my predictions for 2017 turned out:

Executive orders: I predicted the scrubbing of Obama-era executive orders, including some pro-employee regulations and the protections for employees of federal contractors. I wasn't wrong. President Trump reversed every pro-employee Obama action he could with the stroke of a pen.

Obamacare gone: They tried and tried and failed. Now they're trying slow strangulation. Despite shortening the enrollment period, refusing to advertise and cutting subsidies, 8.7 million Americans enrolled for 2018.

Marijuana jailings: I was called a fear-mongerer after writing about what will happen if the Feds start to enforce marijuana laws. It didn't happen in 2017, but Jeff Sessions just announced his plans to start enforcing the law. So I was a few days late.

LGBT rights curtailed: We started to see this early in 2017. A bill to allow LGBT discrimination on religious grounds was introduced and Trump promised to sign it. Fortunately, it stalled. They did overturn President Obama's order on LGBT discrimination regarding federal contractors. The President attempted to block transgender military members from serving but have so far been blocked in court. We saw anti-gay legislation pass in Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Texas, There will be a true red/blue dichotomy. Florida remained unfriendly to the LGBT community as expected, failing to pass a corporate-supported law to protect LGBT workers against discrimination.

Muslim discrimination: We saw Trump attempting to keep even permanent residents who happen to be Muslim from re-entering the country after traveling for funerals and education. Fortunately, the travel ban was blocked until December, when the Supreme Court allowed the latest version to take effect. We haven't seen much fallout yet. I predicted that blatant acts of discrimination by the Administration would embolden racists who feel they have the right to discriminate against brown people and that this would be a horrible, horrible year to be Muslim. This was a year of increased assaults against Muslims. The number of anti-Muslim groups tripled. It was a rough year.

Sex discrimination: I predicted active attempts to ban abortion rights for women. The Trump Administration sought and failed to block an abortion for a teen immigrant. They passed a law allowing states to refuse to fund doctors who perform abortions. The House passed a bill that would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks. I predicted that attempts to reverse sexual harassment and other protections for women, would not happen much in 2017. Thankfully, the #MeToo movement made any such attempts impossible, for now.

EEOC changes priorities: EEOC started early in 2017 backing down on lawsuits involving transgender rights. However, it was the Justice Department, not EEOC, that took an active stance that Title VII does not protect against LGBT discrimination.  The Supreme Court refused to decide the issue. I predicted that EEOC would reverse its position that banning hire of those with criminal records has a disparate impact on race/national origin, but the guidance is still in effect.

No help with overtime: I predicted that President Obama's attempt to expand overtime and update antique standards for overtime will be overturned. It was.

Non-Christians: I predicted that there would be a push to marginalize any protections for anyone who is not Christian. So far, other than with Muslims, that hasn't happened. Yet. Indeed, even the War on Christmas folks were oddly quiet this year.

What we got in 2017 quite a bit of were a boatload of judicial and administration appointments of anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-anyone-but-Christian appointees that will cause long-term negative outcomes. Fortunately, the chaotic White House kept the apocalypse somewhat at bay.

The good news is that many states were proactive in passing pro-employee laws such as ban-the-box, raising the minimum wage, paid sick leave, salary history, predictive scheduling and other pro-employee measures. Florida did nothing to help its workers. As usual.

Next up - my predictions for 2018.

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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.