Article main image
Dec 16, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Job seekers more likely to join pro-LGBTQ organizations…

Americans say they are more likely to join companies that are publicly pro-LGBTQ, according to a new survey. Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer survey found that more than 51% of US employees were more likely to want to work for a pro-LGBTQ company, compared to 11% who said they were less likely. This data comes on top of research Edelman published earlier this year, which found 34% of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a brand that expressed support for LGBTQ rights, versus 19% who said they were less likely. However Edelman also revealed that companies are still very nervous to take a firm public stance with the LGBTQ community. In response to the data, Sarah Kate Ellis, president of The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said: “if you [organizations] put the LGBTQ community on hold, it will affect your bottom line.” She added: “I don’t think you can be a consumer-facing product in the 21st century and not have this as your priority.”

…as workers sue Georgia for transgender healthcare discrimination

Two state employees and a public school clerk are suing the state of Georgia after claiming Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) – which covers 660,000 state employees – illegally discriminates against them for not paying for gender transition healthcare. “The exclusion communicates to transgender persons and to the public that their state government deems them unworthy of equal treatment,” the lawsuit argues. It adds: “The exclusion not only harms the health and finances of transgender people seeking gender dysphoria treatment, it also reinforces the stigma attached to being transgender.” The plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement for money they say they spent on procedures not covered by insurance. They are also seeking damages and lawyers’ fees. The lawsuit cites a 2020 Supreme Court ruling which argues that treating someone differently because they are transgender or gay violates a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

Four-day working week trial heralded a major success

A six-month pilot testing a four-day week has been declared as a major success. The pilot, run by 33 companies, mostly in America and Ireland, showed that participating employers saw their revenue rise 8% during the period of the trial, with 95% of companies claiming productivity has either remained the same or has improved. In addition to this, hiring rose, absenteeism was reduced, and resignations declined slightly. “We found that the trial had profound effects,” said researchers at Boston College, Cambridge University and the University College Dublin. The pilot programs, instituted by nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, were done with companies that were interested in instituting a reduced workweek with no reduction in pay. Researchers found 52% of employees thought their pace of work increased but 67% of employees reported lower levels of burnout (compared to 20% who said it increased. It concluded that the data “strongly suggests a four-day workweek has the potential to reduce costs associated with health care.” Nearly half of the organizations in the trial said they would continue the four-day week after the trial ends.

Employers liable for associated costs created by unlawful labor practices

A new ruling by the US National Labor Relations board will require employers to compensate workers for any associated financial harm they suffer (such as credit card debt or out-of-pocket medical expenses), as a result of illegal firings or other unlawful labor practices. The ruling centers around the case of six workers fired by Texas-based Thryv Inc, which sells Yellow Pages advertising. [They were fired when they objected about terms of their union]. The board decided to use the case to call for public input about whether the employer should be required to expand the money damages beyond just paying them their back-pay (ie just their salary had they not been sacked). In coming to its decision, the board rejected claims from employer groups that it lacks the power to award punitive damages.

Unused Paid Time Off has doubled since the pandemic

A startling 55% of PTO now goes unused – double what it was (28%) in 2019, according to new data by PTO solutions provider, Sorbet. It argues work culture is squarely to blame, with 24% of respondents saying they didn’t feel comfortable asking their manager for time off, while 31% admitted they felt it was harder to take time off when working from home. Gender differences were revealed too. Male workers receive 10% more PTO days than women in their contracts, and men choose to take 33% more days off than their female coworkers. By comparison, despite the fact women are 27% more comfortable than men to take sick days, they are 19% less comfortable taking PTO. “In a post-COVID world, employees clearly feel less legitimized and incentivized to take time off which causes a breathtaking loss of value to both employers and employees,” said Veetahl Eliat-Raichel, CEO and co-founder of Sorbet. The data also revealed that while 44% of US employees prefer a hybrid work model, 31% think it’s harder to take time off when working from home.

Tata Consultancy Services sued for favoring Asian applicants

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is being sued by a former employee in the US for discriminating against non-South Asian and non-Indian applicants and employees. Ex-employee, Shawn Katz, worked for TCS for nine years before being let go, and he claims TCS has a systematic pattern of discriminating against non-South Asian and non-Indian applicants and employees “concerning hiring, staffing, benching, termination, and promotion decisions.” TCS has been forced to defend similar accusations before, and it won a case filed against it in 2018, where a jury determined that it did not have a “pattern or practice” of discriminating against non-South Asian workers. But Katz argues that despite meeting the qualifications for promotion for several years, he was never promoted during his entire tenure at the company. The complaint adds that TCS’s talent acquisition and third-party vendors are encouraged to hire employees of Indian origin. It said TCS also prioritises individuals on visas in US jobs. The lawsuit contends TCS “disproportionately awards” these employees higher appraisal scores and promotes them more frequently than non-Indian and non-South Asian employees to maximise time on the visa.

Apples removes gag-clauses related to workplace harassment

After an independent investigation into allegations the company restricted staff from talking about issues like discrimination and abuse, Apple has decided to end ‘gagging clauses’ relating to workplace harassment. In a letter entitled “Our Commitment to an Open and Collaborative Workplace,” Apple said: “Employees have the right to speak freely about their workplace conditions, including harassment and discrimination.” It added that it had “revised our US arbitration agreement to exclude harassment and discrimination claims from private mandatory arbitration in their entirety and applied this change retroactively to employees who signed prior versions of the agreement.” The fact an investigation happened at all is largely attributed to the work of chief executive of Nia Capital, Kristin Hull, plus the Minderoo Foundation. They both rallied more than 50% of Apple shareholders to vote for the third-party inquiry in March. “Apple has agreed to remove concealment clauses from employee contracts, both for full-time employees, as well as for contract workers,” said Hull. “That is huge in itself. The fact this commitment spans for US as well as international workers is also groundbreaking and should set the trend for the rest of US-based companies.”

This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.