Massachussets Sues Uber/Lyft Over Driver Classification

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, July 14, announced a lawsuit seeking a court ruling that Uber and Lyft drivers are employees under Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws, a designation that will allow drivers access to critical labor rights and benefits, such as minimum wage, overtime, and earned sick time. 

In the complaint for declaratory judgment, filed in Suffolk Superior Court against Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., AG Healey seeks a determination from the court that Uber and Lyft drivers are employees, not independent contractors as the companies have misclassified them. The AG’s complaint also seeks an order declaring that these drivers are entitled to protections under the Wage and Hour Laws.

“Uber and Lyft have built their billion-dollar businesses while denying their drivers basic employee protections and benefits for years,” said AG Healey. “This business model is unfair and exploitative. We are seeking this determination from the court because these drivers have a right to be treated fairly.”  

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Oregon Employment Department Sued to Address Months of Unpaid Benefits

A lawsuit filed last week on behalf of 13 jobless Oregonians seeks a series of reforms at the Oregon Employment Department to address months of unpaid benefits and assist claimants who don’t speak English.

Separately, the union representing the department’s claims processors said Monday the state will now allow at least 20 workers to do their jobs from home – a step the employment department had resisted for months. The pilot program follows a coronavirus outbreak last week that infected five workers at the department’s Gresham office, prompting its closure.

And state lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to set aside $35 million in federal relief funds to make $500 payments to Oregonians who have not received unemployment benefits during pandemic. Some have been waiting for months.

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Mother Sues Ex-Employer After Fired Over Kids Disrupting At-Home Meeting

“Her childcare options evaporated overnight.” It happened to thousands of families when the state of California forced everyone to stay home as the coronavirus crept into town.

It happened to Drisana Rios. The mother of two was an account executive with insurance firm HUB International in San Diego. In March, she was sent home to work alongside a needy 1-year-old and 4-year-old. “It was a little crazy and wild for all of us,” said Daphne Delvaux.

Delvaux is an employment attorney with the Gruenberg Law firm. She filed a lawsuit on behalf of Rios who was recently terminated by HUB International. According to the lawsuit, Rios said she was admonished for her children being too loud during conference calls. “As a mother, as a working mother, I was outraged,” said Delvaux who spoke to NBC 7 on behalf of her client.

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Brooks Brothers Files for Bankruptcy

Even if workers could head to the office right now, chances are they wouldn’t be wearing a Brooks Brothers suit. The 200-plus-year-old retailer best known for what would now be considered formal office attire has filed for bankruptcy, falling victim to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has shuttered stores and stymied retail, and changing styles.

Brooks Brothers had fallen on rough times even before the pandemic, announcing last year that it would explore its strategic options. It now has a $75 million debtor-in-possession loan and there is interest from a potential buyer, Barneys New York owner Authentic Brands LLC, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Brooks Brothers has tried to inject some freshness and a more laid-back vibe into its fashions, with “cool & casual” styles currently featured on its e-commerce homepage. However, the “casualization” of the workplace has outpaced the change at the iconic brand.

Read the source article at MarketWatch

Johnny Depp Testifies Against Ex-Wife in Court

On Tuesday, the actor, 57, took the stand at a U.K. libel court case, in which Depp is suing The Sun after the tabloid ran an April 2018 headline calling him a “wife beater.” Heard, 34, previously alleged that Depp had been abusive during their 15-month marriage, a claim he has since denied, claiming that he was the victim of domestic violence in their relationship. (Heard’s lawyer Eric George denied the allegations against the actress, saying in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, “The evidence in this case is clear: Johnny Depp repeatedly beat Amber Heard.”)

“The increasingly desperate attempts by Mr. Depp and his enablers to revive his career by initiating baseless litigation against so many people once close to him — his former lawyers, former managers, and his former spouse — are not fooling anyone.”

The two met while making the 2011 film The Rum Diary together. In his new court appearance, Depp claimed that Heard came on to him in order to “progress her own career.”

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ICE Announces International Students Must Leave if School Goes Online-Only

The government announced Monday that international students will not be allowed to stay in the country if the institution in which they’re enrolled is holding online-only courses this fall, and those failing to comply with the rules will risk deportation.

Students on F-1 and M-1 visas who face such a situation “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said in a news release.

Those who violate the rules “may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” the agency said.

The news comes as some colleges and universities, including Harvard, have announced they plan to hold online-only courses this fall as the United States struggles to get the coronavirus pandemic under control.

Read the source article at NBC News

Lucky Brand Files for Bankruptcy

Denim retailer Lucky Brand Dungarees has filed for bankruptcy protection, blaming its troubles in part on the coronavirus pandemic, and said it has a deal lined up to sell the company.

Lucky said it plans to close 13 stores and could shutter more during the bankruptcy process. No closures are planned in Massachusetts, where Lucky has several mall stores.

Los Angeles-based Lucky filed for Chapter 11 protection on Friday in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.

In a court filing, chief restructuring officer Mark Renzi described a proposal to sell Lucky to buyers led by apparel retail operator SPARC Group for $140.1 million in cash and $51.5 million in credit. Lucky said the offer would preserve much or all of the company’s current network of stores.

Read the source article at CBS Boston

Employee Accuses Facebook of Racial Discrimination

A Black Facebook employee is accusing his employer of racial discrimination.

In a complaint filed Thursday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Oscar Veneszee Jr. said the social network does not give Black workers equal opportunities in their careers.

“We have a Black people problem,” Veneszee told NPR. Veneszee is a Navy veteran who recruits other veterans and people of color as part of diversity initiatives at Facebook’s infrastructure division. “We’ve set goals to increase diversity at the company, but we’ve failed to create a culture at the company that finds, grows and keeps Black people at the company.”

Veneszee, who has worked for Facebook since 2017, filed the employment discrimination charge along with Howard Winns, Jr., and Jazsmin Smith — both of whom Veneszee recruited — who said they applied to work at Facebook but had not been hired, they alleged, because they are Black. The claim, they said, was filed on behalf of “all Black Facebook employees and applicants to Facebook.”

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Las Vegas Casinos Face Lawsuit Alleging Failure to Protect Employees

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 filed a lawsuit against MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment in order to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The lawsuit alleges that The Signature at MGM Grand and Sadelle’s Cafe at the Bellagio, both owned by MGM Resorts International, and Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar at Harrah’s Las Vegas, owned by Caesars Entertainment, didn’t provide reasonable rules and procedures to address the spread of COVID-19. The lawsuit alleges the casinos did not shut down when they learned about positive tests from staff, did not conduct contact tracing, did not inform staff about an employee testing positive for COVID-19, and “provided workers with flatly false information about how COVID-19 spreads and what its symptoms are, in an effort to keep workers on the job and revenues flowing.”

“This lawsuit … is the just the beginning of the culinary union’s legal efforts to make sure workers are fully protected,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union.

Read the source article at Eater Vegas

Cirque du Soleil Files for Bankruptcy

Cirque du Soleil announced Monday it is filing for bankruptcy protection as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rattle the world.

The entertainment group is working to “restructure its capital structure,” according to a statement. Its application will be heard by the Superior Court of Quebec on Tuesday. Once given this initial order, it will file for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

Cirque du Soleil is an institution on the Las Vegas Strip, with its pricey, mesmerizing shows high on visitors’ vacation agendas. The company had six shows operating in major Las Vegas casino hotels when coronavirus crushed travel and closed casinos for nearly three months: “O,” “Zumanity,’” “The Beatles LOVE,” “Ka,” “Mystere,” and “Michael Jackson ONE.”

Major shows like Cirque have not reopened in Las Vegas under the state’s guidelines covering large crowds. Cirque shut down its shows in Las Vegas and across the world on March 14.

Read the source article at USA TODAY