Californian fast-food workers to get $20 per hour; shot ‘shoplifter’ sues Walgreens

In this week's round-up of HR news catching our eye: an alleged shoplifter shot by a Walgreens employee says she's suing; Californian fast food workers will now get $20 per hour; plus lots more:

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Apr 4, 2024

Fast food workers see big pay rise

From this week, around half a million fast food sector workers will see their hourly pay rise to $20 per hour (which is some $4 higher than the overall state minimum wage). The rise applies to all Californian employees working in fast food establishments, which have more than 60 locations nationwide. The law, which came into effect on April 1st, also sees the creation of a ‘Fast-Food Council’ – the first of its kind in the US, which will have representatives from both the restaurant industry and workers. Workers will be able to increase wages annually for the rest of the decade, in pace with inflation or up to 3.5%, whichever is higher. This council can also recommend standards for fast-food worker safety and work with existing state agencies to investigate issues like wage theft. “I definitely think it’s a very big deal,” commented Jaylene Loubet, who works as a McDonald’s cashier. “What we’re fighting for is not unreasonable. We’re just asking for what’s fair.” But while hailed as a positive step for employees, critics claim owners of some fast food franchise locations have already increased menu prices in the past few months, in anticipation of the changes. Moreover, they argue some chains have also cut worker hours – meaning staff will not actually be any better off in real terms.

‘Shoplifter’ sues Walgreens after employee shot her seven times

Tennessee-based Travonsha Ferguson, is suing pharmacy giant, Walgreens, after she was shot seven times by an employee who suspected her and her friend of shoplifting. East Nashville Walgreens employee, Mitarius Boyd, shot Ferguson in the store’s parking lot, after claiming that Ferguson or her friend “was attempting to shoplift Walgreens merchandise from the store,” according to court paperwork filed this week. Boyd admitted to police that he pulled out his semi-automatic pistol and began shooting. But he also said that he didn’t know if the pair he were trying to stop were armed, according to the police report. Ferguson – who was pregnant at the time – was rushed to hospital, where she had to have an emergency C-section. Her baby is now claimed to be at risk of “increased risk of long-term intellectual and developmental disabilities,” according to the details of the suit, while Ferguson’s own internal injuries were such, that she must now wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life. Even though Boyd was fired for being in breach of Walgreens’ policies, Ferguson’s lawyer, L. Chris Stewart, said: “We intend to hold Walgreens accountable for the egregious actions of their employee who was a team leader at that location.” He added: “Following someone to the parking lot and shooting them seven times for allegedly shoplifting is outrageous conduct that cannot be tolerated by corporations around the country.”

Best Workplaces for diversity revealed

Newsweek has published its second ‘Greatest Workplaces for Diversity’ list – which, in partnership with Plant-A Insights Group, recognizes the strides employers large and small have made to make their workplaces ones that genuinely respect and value individuals from different walks of life. The scoring process involved a thorough examination of publicly available data, interviews with HR professionals, and an anonymous online survey conducted among a diverse group of employees at companies in the US. Respondents shared insights into corporate culture, working environments and other aspects of both their own companies and others they were familiar with, resulting in more than 1.5 million company reviews. The final list (categorized into 78 industries), and broken down by those that have more than 5,000 staff; those that have 1,000-5,000 staff, includes the likes of A+E Networks, American Savings Bank, Boeing, Live Nation, PDQ and SurveyMonkey. One of those listed is WEX, the global commerce platform, which has set an aspiration to be have gender parity in leadership roles and to increase employees of color by 2025. Currently, 42% of its board members are women, and 17% are black. “The skills and ideas our diverse, talented, and engaged employees bring to the table are key to WEX’s success,” said Melanie Tinto, WEX’s chief human resources officer, who has overseen these recent initiatives. She added: “I could not be more proud of the more than 7,000 WEX employees around the world who embody these virtues daily.”

OSHA publishes controversial ‘walkaround’ rule

It appeared on April 1st, but it’s definitely no joke. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), has published its controversial final “walkaround” rule – which allows for employees to appoint a third-party – such as a union representative – to accompany any inspection of their work environment under the Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) Act. The OSHA says the rule “recognizes a limited right for third parties to ‘accompany’ CSHOs during their lawful physical inspection of a workplace solely for the purpose of aiding the agency’s inspection.” However, the move has attracted significant backlash. In opposing the move, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee ranking member, Bill Cassidy, said: “OSHA inspections are crucial to protect workers’ safety and should never be co-opted to promote a political agenda. The union has a vested interest in harassing a non-union employer. Giving them the power to influence an inspection is a potential weapon against a workplace that has chosen to be non-union. This is wrong.” House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) added: This rule has absolutely nothing to do with keeping workers safe. Rather it weaponizes OSHA inspections—harming workers’ safety while also increasing employers’ costs.” She added: “This isn’t surprising given this administration’s zeal for regulatory overreach. What’s worse, under this rule unionizing efforts and other activist campaigns are put ahead of safety efforts.”

Better employee experience improves profits

New data from NTT Data’s 2023 Global Employee Experience Trends Report has revealed that a whopping 94% of CX/EX decision-makers and influencers agree that improved employee experience directly impacts their net profit. The report, which was based on interviews with 1,442 customer experience and EX decision-makers across 14 sectors and 25 countries, found better employee experience also contributed to improved productivity, greater employee satisfaction, better business agility and speed, and higher employee retention. However, the data also revealed that 83% of organisations admitted that their employee experience levels were “low” and that this is negatively hitting their delivery and business success. Only 49% of executives questioned said they were very satisfied with their organisation’s EX capabilities. In addition to this, it found a significant 86% of employers said their organisation had yet to optimize a hybrid/remote working model, leading to a deterioration in employee experience and wellbeing. Only 48% of organizations questioned agreed that staff had access to the sort of technology they actually need when working from an office or from home. According to the report, EX and technology strategies need better alignment to improve outcomes for organisations, including hybrid work arrangements.

Benefits of offering childcare perks revealed

A new study by Boston Consulting Group and non-profit organization, First Moms, has revealed that child care support not only benefits working parents but also significantly enhances company performance – by giving employers an ROI of 425%. The study found that 86% of working parents are more likely to remain with their current employer due to child care benefits being offered; up to 78% of these parents report positive impacts on their careers; while companies offering child care support saw reduced employee absenteeism by up to 16 days per year. But, despite this good news, the study also revealeds that only 12% of American employees have access to childcare benefits, leaving 88% without access to these essential services. It concludes that there is now an urgent need for employers to offer child care benefits as the ongoing child care crisis continues to pose challenges for working parents across the US. The report claims the survival of many childcare centers is threatened in the US due to the pandemic, economic challenges, and drying federal funding. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, every month up to 100,000 Americans are unable to attend work due to issues related to childcare.

Job openings steady in February

Latest data from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics finds job openings, a measure of labor demand, edged up 8,000 to 8.756 million on the last day of February. Its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (or JOLTS report), also found that during February, hiring increased 120,000 to 5.818 million, while the number of workers resigning from their jobs, increased by 38,000 to 3.484 million. In addition to this, the Labor Department is expected to report on Friday that nonfarm payrolls increased by 200,000 jobs during March. All told, this should mean that the economy added around 275,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate is forecast to be unchanged at 3.9%. Data for January was revised lower to show 8.748 million unfilled positions instead of the previously reported 8.863 million. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 8.740 million job openings in January. Job openings peaked at a record 12.0 million in March 2022.