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Monday, February 26, 2018

My 2018 Predictions

Okay, okay. So I've been promising these for awhile. It has taken me a bit to wrap my head around things that have happened so far since the presidential election. The good news is that the GOP remains the party that couldn't shoot straight (no pun intended). So far, little has been done against employees on the legislative front. It's mostly been done by executive order.

So what can we expect for the rest of 2018? Here are my predictions:

Sexual harassment: Despite all the brouhaha on #MeToo and sexual harassment, no new legislation will pass and we'll see some judicial and jury decisions penalizing sexual harassment victims. There will be backlash, and lots of it.

Agcncy paralysis: With cuts to EEOC, DOJ and NLRB, these agencies will develop backlogs and go into paralysis. Employees can expect little help from the feds this year. The one hopeful thing I see is that EEOC mediations are still going strong. The EEOC mediators, at least down here, are some of the best I've ever seen, government or private. We will still see cases resolved in EEOC mediations unless the mediation program is cut too.

Guns at work: Thanks to high school students down here, we may start to see states revisiting those idiotic guns at work laws that have been all the rage. On the other hand, the orange one is pressing to arm teachers in classrooms. What could possibly go wrong? I think we will actually see some baby steps on common sense gun control for the first time in this country in a long time. It will take awhile, probably years, but there will probably ultimately be a drop in workplace shootings if these laws pass.

Immigration raids: We've already started to see employers being raided to round up illegal immigrants and arrest the bosses for hiring them. We're also seeing traffic stops to round up immigrants. That will continue. Employers  and employees beware.

Antitrust: The Department of Justice has announced it will start cracking down on no-poach agreements between employers. That's a ray of sunshine in what will be an awful year for employees. I would caution employers who threaten to sue competitors for hiring former employees, then quietly settle with a no-poach agreement. The government will come after you as well as my colleagues and me for these illegal arrangements.

LGBT rights: The courts will continue to battle over whether or not Title VII'a sex discrimination prohibition covers sexual orientation. I don't think the Supremes will get to the issue this year, so we'll have a split among circuits on this. So far, the 2nd and 7th Circuits say it's covered. The 11th, which covers my home state of Florida, says no.

Marijuana crackdowns: I've been predicting for awhile that the feds will start cracking down on legal marijuana use. It's still illegal on the federal level, no matter what your state says. That handy-dandy card allowing you to buy will be a nice tool for the feds to use to claim probable cause to search your house. They'll probably go after growers and dispensaries first, but if people don't rise up and resist, they'll come after individuals next. I'm guessing the crackdown this year will be on the businesses, not on individuals.

Overall, this won't be a good year for employee rights. But then, you knew that already. Resistance is not futile.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

My #1 Prediction For 2018: More Shootings. Here's How We Can Stop Them.

I promised that my next post would be my employment law predictions for 2018. Frankly, I've been putting it off because it's so depressing. However, in light of yesterday's shootings only a few miles from my home, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I had to weigh in. Not only will there be more school shootings this year, but there will be more workplace shootings. That is a 100% certainty.

I'm so tired of thoughts and prayers I could scream. Everyone I know has been personally affected by yesterday's shooting in some way. Thankfully, my daughters are safe. Many can't say the same. It's time to stand up and take action to stop this madness.

Adding to my rage and sadness, I actually knew Marjory Stoneman Douglas. She was a fellow Wellesley alum (obviously different years). I went with her to the White House when she was awarded the Medal of Freedom for her tireless work saving the Everglades. While we were there, I got to sit with her during the signing of the Brady Bill. She was so proud that Bill Clinton was doing something to help with gun control. She would be mortified that her name will now be used in the same breath as Columbine and Sandy Hook every time there is a new school shooting. I take personal umbrage that her memory is now tarnished with this horror.

But what can we do? Well, throwing up our hands hasn't worked. We are the only country this is happening in. The other countries that don't have these incidents have reasonable gun control. We have the most guns of any country. If having more guns makes you more safe, why are we the only place this is happening.

Here is my plan to slow down and substantially reduce the mass shootings in this country:

  1. Assault Weapons Ban: From 1994 to 2004, we had an assault weapons ban. Mass shootings went down. When the GOP refused to renew it, they shot up. This is an easy and obvious partial solution to the problem.
  2. Background Checks For Gun Shows: The Brady Bill is a law requiring background checks before gun purchases, but the GOP working with the NRA has managed to work in so many loopholes that it is almost worthless. According to the Brady Campaign, "experts estimate that 1 out of 5 gun sales occur in 'no questions asked' transactions that often take place over the Internet or at gun shows where, in most states, background checks are not required. This dangerous loophole puts thousands and thousands of guns in the hands of dangerous people like domestic abusers, felons and the dangerously mentally ill." There is a proposed law to close this loophole. It should be passed.
  3. Include Social Media In Background Checks: We need to do background checks for guns as thorougly as employers do for potential employment. The kid who did this horrific shooting posted multiple threats to shoot people on social media. Part of every background check for potential gun ownership should include mandatory disclosure of all social media sites and handles. Failure to disclose should be a crime in itself.
  4. Include Domest Violence Arrests in Background Checks: Domestic violence history is a red flag for potential mass shooters. If a potential gun buyer has such an arrest, even if not convicted, it should trigger a deeper background check including interviews with neighbors, employers, friends, and family, as well as the doctors who treated the victim. A conviction should result in automatic denial.
  5. Provide Due Process for Gun Purchase Denials: If someone is denied a gun purchase based on a social media posting, let them appeal to an administrative judge or panel with no filing fee so that they can explain their side and try to get the decision reversed. That should allay concerns that people can be denied for unjust reasons.
  6. Deny Guns To Those On The Terrorist Watch List: Seems obvious, but the GOP won't pass it. Same due process to appeal a denial as above so if someone is wrongly on the list, they can seek justice.
  7. Buy Back Assault Weapons: How do we get the assault weapons off the streets? How about making owners an offer they can't refuse? Offer to buy them back at an outrageous price. How about $10,000 for your weapon? That would be a good investment of tax dollars. No, it wouldn't get them all off the streets, but I bet it would get a lot.
  8. Confiscate Guns Of Criminals: If someone lies on their background check to obtain the gun, or is arrested for domestic violence or other violent crime, it should be instant probable cause to confiscate their registered weapons and search their homes, offices and vehicles for non-registered ones. The weapons should be held in custody until the person is found not guilty. In order to get the weapons back, a new background check should be done. If they are kept due to a conviction or failure of the background check, fair market value should be paid. There should be a right to a due process hearing on this as well.
  9. Rise Up and Protest: I suggest a Million Parent March on Tallahassee as a start. The Florida legislature is in session, and much gun regulation has to be done on the state level. Let's start working state by state to get dangerous guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
These are my thoughts on the issue. Some of the above has been the subject of proposed legislation, some has not. Until we take action to address this problem, we will have more of our children and employees slaughtered. Thoughts and prayers are not enough.