The Role of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Workplace

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion comprise the modern workplace mantra, yet discrimination, disparity, and oppression remains widespread in professional settings. Despite the fact that many employers claim that diversity, equity, and inclusion are the foundation of their business, the reality isn’t even close. Many of them do not fully comprehend the terms, while the rest are more focused on putting on a show rather than actually incorporating those values in their organization. Old habits die hard, which is why business owners are not as broadminded and accepting as they claim to be. 

People of color and other minority groups in society repeatedly find themselves at a disadvantage. Racism and stereotyping are two major obstacles that prevent them from personal growth and professional success. The United States is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, thus it is not surprising that there are so many contradicting opinions all around. While the Millenials and Generation Z are actively participating in campaigns promoting equal rights, the older generations are reluctant to let go of traditional bigotry and sexism. 

What is Workplace Diversity?

Diversity in the workplace means that people from different origins and cultural backgrounds come together. The employer must hire individuals on the basis of their skill, rather than what meets the eye. Diversity is not limited to skin color, religion, and ethnicity, but also includes people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. Diversity in the workplace promotes innovation and creativity, which is ultimately beneficial for the business. Collaboration and merging of contrasting ideas gives rise to new and promising prospects.  

Photo by Amy Elting on Unsplash

How To Establish Equity and Inclusion at the Workplace?

Hiring a diverse workforce is only the first step; many business owners fumble with what comes next. There is no point in increasing the number of female, disabled, LTBTQ, Black, Asian, and immigrant workers if you are not ready to treat them fairly. Every employee at your firm needs to feel included and respected, regardless of who they are and where they come from. Their input is as invaluable as everyone else, and they deserve equal opportunities for advancing in their career. They are entitled to same pay scale, employment incentives, and worker’s compensation policy as everybody else.

When an employer implements equity, inclusion develops automatically. When all employees are treated as equals, none of them will feel singled out. Equity and inclusion eliminate the possibilities of favoritism and victimization. Companies that abide by the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion are 30% more likely to outperform competitors who do not share these values. When employees from all walks of life feel welcomed and appreciated, they are encouraged to perform optimally and exhibit loyalty. 

A workplace that discourages all sorts of discrimination is less susceptible to legal claims and lawsuits filed by employees. Diversity, equity, and inclusion eliminate in-house conflicts, and ultimately protect the business from litigation costs. Every employer and employee should be aware of his/her rights and responsibilities at the workplace. While an employer does not need a reason to fire a worker, there are situations where it can be considered as wrongful termination. If the employee presents proof of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, the company may have to face harsh legal consequences. If you have been wronged by a figure of authority or person of power in the workplace hierarchy, Personal Injury Lawyer in Philadelphia can help you attain justice. 

Call the experienced team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt today at 1-866-333-7715 or fill out our form for a free consultation on your case.

 

Amazon Working Conditions Just As Bad for Delivery Drivers

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Recent news headlines have focused on the “unsafe” and “grueling” working conditions that employees labor under in Amazon warehouses across the globe. While the media focuses its attention on the warehouses, delivery drivers working for Amazon are now stepping forward to have their stories told as well. 

Amazon is famed for its lightning fast delivery times, with customers often receiving orders within the same day. These tight delivery schedules make for stressful and often hazardous working conditions that endanger drivers. 

 

Amazon Drivers Are Overworked and Underpaid

Amazon delivery drivers are reporting working ten to fourteen hours in a shift. This is in part because drivers are not allowed to return any packages from their routes, meaning drivers can make over 160 stops per shift. 

While the pay rate seems decent enough, with drivers starting at $15 an hour, this rate is actually far less than the average starting wage for other delivery drivers. For example, UPS drivers are represented by the Teamsters Union that starts their wages at $21 an hour, up to $40 an hour or more for more experienced drivers. 

 

The Amazon Mentor App Leads to Invasive Oversight for Drivers

When drivers start their shift, they first log into the Amazon “Mentor” app. The Mentor app provides information on where to leave packages, access codes to apartment buildings, and dictates every step of the drivers day. The app tracks and measures driving behaviors such as speeding, harsh braking, or making phone calls, and gives the drivers a score based on these behaviors. 

Since the Mentor app is constantly monitoring the drivers every move, it also alerts their supervisors if they deviate or stop along the route even briefly. When a van stops for longer than three minutes, a dispatcher will call the driver and ask why. This constant oversight creates a stressful environment for drivers when dropping off packages or simply trying to take a lunch or restroom break.

 

No Bathroom Breaks for Delivery Drivers

With the Mentor app constantly monitoring drivers, every stop has to be accounted for. That leaves most drivers with no time to use the restroom on their ten hour shifts. Drivers need to use public restrooms such as ones inside grocery stores, so if their route does not include an area that has such a location, drivers have to make a long detour that could cost them their job. Because of these strict measures, drivers report using empty water bottles in their vehicles instead of stopping to use the restroom.

 

Amazon Hires Contractors To Prevent Workers From Organizing

Amazon has consistently stated that they are not responsible for these working conditions because the drivers are not actually Amazon employees. That’s because Amazon uses contractors for delivery services, a move that allows them to duck responsibility, while also helping to prevent workers from organizing for better conditions. 

The Teamsters Union has been working with Amazon drivers and the delivery service providers that hire them in an attempt to curtail these exploitative practices, with the director of the Teamsters Amazon project stating, “This sort of model is problematic for the entire (delivery) industry”. 

 

Do Amazon Delivery Drivers Get Overtime?

Although drivers are being asked to work long hours with few breaks, they are still only paid flat day rates for their work with no additional pay for overtime hours. This has led to multiple class-action lawsuits being filed against the company in over ten states. 

Amazon recently agreed to pay out over $8.2 million in a class-action lawsuit alleging that they were engaging in wage-theft by refusing to properly compensate drivers. The lawsuit claims that Amazon failed to pay the minimum wage, and denied compensation for rest breaks or overtime. Amazon has also been fined $6.4 million by California regulators for similar wage-theft violations, though Amazon has stated it is appealing the fine. 

 

Workers Deserve Protections

While Amazon founder Jeff Bezos disputes Elon Musk for the title of world’s richest person, the drivers who keep his company running are struggling to pay rent, while working under increasingly stressful and unsafe conditions. 

The team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have decades of experience fighting for workers, and are following these developments closely. If you work as a delivery driver for Amazon and have been subject to unfair working conditions, contact us today at 1-866-333-7715 or online via our form.  

 

 

Update on Overtime and Minimum Wage in PA

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At the end of August only a few days before Labor Day, a federal judge struck down the new rule issued by the Labor Department during the Obama administration to make more than 4 million workers eligible for time and a half overtime by setting a higher salary threshold for the overtime exemption. The Obama administration rule released in May 2016 would have doubled the threshold to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from overtime to $47,476 from $23,660.

Philadelphia’s New Wage Theft Law

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A bill passed back in December to fight wage theft in Philadelphia will go in effect today, July 1, 2016. It’s one more reason for employees to cheer Mayor Nutter’s tenure in charge of the city.

New Overtime Pay Rules to Start in December

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The Department of Labor has finalized regulations to require overtime pay to approximately 4.2 million salaried workers. In order for a business to claim that an employee is eligible for the overtime exemption as an executive, administrative or professional worker under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) past November, the individual will need to make a salary of over $47,476 a year.

Deborah Rocco Certified in Workers’ Comp By PA Bar Association

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Deborah RoccoOur Of Counsel, Deborah Rocco, has been certified as a specialist in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Law Section. Less than 200 attorneys across the state of PA have earned the designation.

In 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved the PBA Workers’ Compensation Law Section as the first bar association entity in Pennsylvania to certify lawyers in the area of workers’ compensation law. Certification was granted to 149 lawyers who took the exam in 2013, 32 lawyers who took the exam in 2014, 20 lawyers who took the exam in 2015, and 18 who took the exam earlier this year.  We are very pleased to announce that Deb was one of the 18.

Deb passed the certification examination that focuses on workers’ compensation law and rules and leading case law.  She also successfully completed the 2016 certification process by submitting a variety of documents showing that at least 50 percent of her legal practice is in the specialty field of workers’ compensation, that she has practiced in the field for more than five years, and that she actively participates in Mandatory Continuing Legal Education in workers’ compensation law and related fields.

If you are in need of a Philadelphia worker’s compensation lawyer, you can learn more about Deb Rocco by visiting her online profile: click here.

Uber Settles 2 Driver Misclassification Lawsuits for $100 Million

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Uber, the San Francisco startup that offers a popular international ride-hailing app, will continue to use independent contractors as drivers after settling class-action lawsuits arguing that the drivers were actually employees rather than independent contractors. The lawsuits for drivers in California and Massachusetts were highly publicized disputes in the ongoing battle between employers and workers over their labor rights in the new economy.

Wage Theft Bill in Congress Adds Teeth to FLSA

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Three Democratic lawmakers introduced a proposal into the U.S. Congress today to give teeth to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the fight against wage theft.

Wage Proposals Could Benefit Philly Workers

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There are a few different wage proposals at various levels of the government which we thought we would call attention to at the conclusion of a work week of beautiful weather here in Philadelphia. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the Federal Governments are considering wage proposals to increase the minimum wage, stop wage theft and help unemployed workers get back to a job.

Wage Theft in Oil, Agriculture, Interns and Freelance Jobs Highlighted

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There’s been a lot of news about wage theft in the media recently. An article published in Inside Energy discussed the surge in claims by workers involved in the oil industry as the price of oil has dropped. According to their report, the number of lawsuits in Colorado for wage violations in 2015 was nine times the number in 2010. The number in Texas, known for oil and gas, increased nearly ten times.

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