Congress Passes Law Limiting Non-Disclosure Use for Workplace Sexual Misconduct
Workspan Daily
November 18, 2022

The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation on Wednesday that limits the use of non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements to silence victims of workplace sexual misconduct, Axios reported.  

The Speak Out Act passed by a vote of 315-109 after it passed unanimously in the Senate in September. President Biden is expected to sign the legislation into law.  

This is the second #MeToo bill passed this year. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), who was a cosponsor of the Speak Out Act, said together the two bills represent “the most significant labor legislation this century.”  

The bill only applies to those agreements signed before a dispute arises — the kind of document you might agree to on your first day of work or even before you start. It also doesn't apply to other kinds of complaints — wage theft, or age or race discrimination, for example. 

Legal analysts have noted that the bill doesn't make clear what counts as a "dispute." Some would argue that means a lawsuit, while to others it may just mean a worker has taken a complaint to HR. Courts will have to navigate that line as Bloomberg Law noted. 

Musk Issues Ultimatum to Twitter Employees 

Elon Musk issued an ultimatum to Twitter employees Wednesday morning: Commit to a new “hardcore” Twitter or leave the company with severance pay, the Washington Post reported.  

Twitter is shifting to an engineer-driven operation that Musk said, “will need to be extremely hardcore.” Employees were asked to click an icon and respond by Thursday if they wanted to stay or give up their job and collect up to three months of severance pay.  

“This will mean working long hours at high intensity,” he said. “Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”  

The ultimatum to employees, paired with other sudden pivots in Twitter’s business model, served as the culmination of a whirlwind couple of weeks of ownership for Musk, who bought the company for $44 billion late last month and faces huge financial pressure to make it a success. Musk has already slashed half of the 7,500 employees who were at Twitter when he took over, and the ultimatum Wednesday is expected to accelerate dismissals among those remaining. 

Multiple employees told the Washington Post that they refused to sign any pledge, signaling their frustration with the new direction and the blow it has dealt to staff morale. The workers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said the ultimatum was the final straw. 

“I’m delighted to know I have the option to leave,” one of them said. “I’m not committing to hardcore Twitter.” 

The Trust and Safety team monitors and polices the site for abuse, hate speech, misinformation and other rule-breaking content. Its role is aimed at fostering a “healthy discourse” on the site, and its ousted leader, Vijaya Gadde, wrote that it did so in the name of “free expression.” Many of the members feel that Musk doesn’t value their contributions, the employees said. 

As of Thursday, many Twitter employees announced they would be leaving the company, in what is being referred to as a mass exodus, calling the future of the social media platform into question.  

Starbucks Workers Strike for Higher Pay, Staffing Improvements  

Starbucks workers across 100 different stores in the U.S. went on strike Thursday, aiming to push the company to bargain for higher compensation and improved staffing levels, the Wall Street Journal reported.  

The Starbucks Workers United union said baristas left their posts at 114 stores in conjunction with the company’s “Red Cup Day,” an annual promotion where Starbucks gives away reusable red cups to mark the holiday season. Baristas handed customers red Starbucks Workers United union cups outside cafes. 

Starbucks Workers United, which recently began bargaining with the company over wages and benefits, said it was the largest coordinated national action taken by the union since it was formed last year. The union posted on social-media photos of groups holding up strike signs outside locations that included Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York City. 

“This Red Cup Day, we’re organizing for a voice on the job and a true seat at the table,” said Michelle Eisen, a worker from the Buffalo, New York, store that was the first to unionize through Starbucks Workers United last December. 

A Starbucks spokesman told the Journal that the company was aware of union demonstrations scheduled at a small number of its U.S. stores, and that it respected workers’ right to lawfully protest. 

“We remain committed to all partners and will continue to work together, side-by-side, to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone,” the Starbucks spokesman said, referring to the company’s term for employees. 

Since the campaign’s initial unionization votes in late 2021, the National Labor Relations Board has certified unions in 248 of Starbucks’s 9,000 U.S. stores, and marked defeats for organized labor at 50 locations. 

Retail Employee Turnover Is on the Rise  

A recent survey by Korn Ferry found that retailers are seeing higher year-over-year turnover for in-store, corporate and distribution center employees. 

So far in 2022, the turnover rate for all hourly in-store positions soared to75.8%. That’s up from 68% in 2021. In 2022, the turnover rate for store managers and assistant store managers was 17.7% and 29.2% respectively, up from 14.6% and 22% in 2021. 

The rates for part-time hourly store employees remained very high for both years at about 85%. 

“We’re seeing the impact of retail worker turnover in several ways, including stores scaling back on open hours and customers waiting in long lines to check out,” said Craig Rowley, senior client partner and retail expert with Korn Ferry. “Organizations need to be creative in finding ways to not only attract but retain employees.” 

A year-over-year comparison shows that turnover is also on the rise for corporate retail employees. In 2022, the average corporate turnover was 17.4%, up from 13.7% in 2021. 

Turnover is also up for salaried distribution center workers, at 18.6% for 2022, compared with 14.3% for 2021. 

“Our survey found that the top reason people leave their retail positions is for a better opportunity or promotion,” Rowley said. “So beyond offering competitive compensation packages, retailers need to ensure they are giving employees clear career paths, increased communication about the company’s value proposition and adequate training.” 

Editor’s Note: Additional Content 

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