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Archives for January 2015

Jon Allison’s Weekly Blog

Jon Allison

Mass firings of minorities at McDonald’s
According to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Virginia last week, 10 workers at three McDonald’s locations were terminated last May and told that they didn’t fit the profile the new owner wanted at the stores.  Nine of the workers were African-American and one was Hispanic.  According to the lawsuit, managers said it was getting “too dark” in the restaurants and that they “need to get the ghetto out of the store.”
Read more in this article.

Billy Reed’s English only rule
Billy Reed’s, a restaurant in Palm Springs, California, has forbidden employees from speaking Spanish to each other anywhere in the restaurant except when necessary on the cook line.  The owner, Billy Reed, says he posted a sign in the kitchen setting forth the rule because customers complained they were concerned employees speaking Spanish were talking about them.  According to employees, Reed has threatened to fire the first person heard speaking Spanish in violation of the rule.  The rule has yet to be challenged in court, but rules requiring employees to speak only English in the workplace must be reasonably necessary to the operation of the business.
This post goes in to greater detail.

Old Dominion loses disability trial to self-reporting alcoholic
Charles Grams was employed as a driver for approximately 5 years when he self-reported to his employer his alcoholism.  Grams met with a U.S. Department of Transportation-certified Substance Abuse Professional who told the company Gram would participate in out-patient treatment and then could be returned to work.  Instead, Old Dominion told Gram he would be offered a part-time dock worker position at half the pay and no benefits if one became available.  He was then terminated less than a month after self-reporting.  A jury last week found this violated disability laws and awarded approximately $120,000 in lost wages.
See this article for more information.

The question of whether obesity should be considered a disability requiring workplace protections. 
Last month the European Court of Justice made a landmark decision mandating accommodations for obese workers such as the provision of larger seats, special parking spaces and other accommodations.  In the US obesity can likewise qualify as a disability.  There is, however, a great deal of resistance in the general public to the idea of obesity being considered a disability, including among physicians.  Of 2,238 physicians asked whether they agreed with the European Court’s ruling, 88% said no. Read more here.



Pi Pizzeria Owner Does the Math: Raising Minimum Wage Solves Equation for Low Income Workers and Our Economy

Laura Wilson

Pi Pizzeria co-founder Chris Sommers made the case for raising the federal minimum wage in an editorial published by the Cincinnati Enquirer on January 2, 2015.  As Sommers noted:

“Business owners don’t create more jobs when they have more money in their own pockets thanks to low wages.  We create more jobs when other people have more money to spend at our businesses.

More working Americans walking around with money to spend is what fuels the economy and creates more consumer demand.”

Realizing that many of their employees could not afford to buy the pizza that they worked so hard to make for Pi Pizzeria guests, Sommers and his business partner raised the minimum wage in their restaurants to $10.10, all without raising prices.  While Sommers acknowledges that “a sense of right and wrong may have sparked the decision” to consider raising his employees’ salaries, it was the math that proved the point- “old fashioned number crunching that showed we can and should do what Congress should have already done.”

As Sommers observed, increased payroll costs associated with an increased minimum wage are offset by reduced employee turnover rates, increased productivity, and greater customer satisfaction- all key to the success of small businesses and the American economy.  “Employees who can make ends meet stay longer and are less stressed and more productive.   . . . It’s a win-win when employees can concentrate on serving customers, without worrying about how they are going to make rent or put food on their own table.” Pi Pizzeria is now experiencing increased sales, below budget labor costs, and is expanding into new markets, including Cincinnati, all after raising minimum wage to $10.10.

As Sommers suggests, maybe it’s time Congress solves the same equation by raising the federal minimum wage for the good of the whole economy.

Read more in Sommer’s Op-Ed.