The power of open data: ending child labor in the digital age

Department announces worst forms of child labor report; launches ‘Sweat &Toil’ app, open data

Qusai, 13, scavenges through trash in 'Jordan: Living on Scrap,' a Promising Futures documentary, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Qusai, 13, scavenges through trash in “Jordan: Living on Scrap,” a Promising Futures documentary, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

WASHINGTON — Thirteen-year-old Qusai was about to enter 6th grade when the conflict in his native Homs, Syria caused him to drop out of school, flee with his family to Jordan and spend his days sifting through garbage on the street to survive.

In school, Qusai dreamed of being an engineer or a doctor. Now, he says, “We work because we need to… we need the money… where do we get rent from if we do not work?”

The past year has seen a number of crises — the Syrian refugee crisis, the West African Ebola outbreak, a devastating earthquake in Nepal and the mass migration of unaccompanied minors desperate to escape violence and economic insecurity in parts of Central America. These crises have made millions of children more vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.

Children who enter the labor force at an early age are robbed of their childhoods, their right to an education and a fair shot at a better life. They are more vulnerable to forced labor, trafficking, work that endangers their health and safety, and physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their employers.

The 2014 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, released today by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, documents how these recent crises and global poverty impact the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children and families. The report outlines progress made by governments around the world to address the issue and recommends steps they can take to improve their efforts to end child labor. Mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000, it assesses efforts by 140 countries to reduce the worst forms of child labor by determining whether they have made significant, moderate, minimal or no advancement from year to year. The 2014 report finds nearly 60 percent of the countries covered made a moderate to significant advancement.

Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu announced the report this morning during the “Power of Open Data: Ending Child Labor in the Digital Age” event in Washington, D.C., at the offices of 1776, a global business incubator that raises seed funding to help startups transform industries that impact millions of lives. He also unveiled ILAB’s new mobile application, Sweat & Toil: Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking Around the World, which streamlines the wealth of research in ILAB’s reports and makes it available anytime or anywhere.

“Whether facing economic instability, health epidemics, natural disasters, political conflict or chronic poverty, we as a global community have an obligation to protect our children,” Deputy Secretary Lu said. “This report and the new mobile app are intended as practical tools to identify the problem and help governments around the world firm up the foundations of such protections, so that children don’t fall through the cracks.”

Sweat & Toil is a comprehensive resource that documents child labor and forced labor worldwide. Developed by Presidential Innovation Fellows at the U.S. Labor Department, the app contains information on goods produced by child labor or forced labor and the latest findings on the worst forms of child labor. It digitally reduces thousands of pages to fit into the palm of your hand. For the first time, ILAB’s research is portable, searchable, and available offline.

Data from the app is also available in an open format through the department’s next-generation Application Programming Interface, fulfilling the promise of the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative to make more data readily available and useful to the public. Developers can use this data in their own applications, data visualizations and mashups with other data sets, while data scientists can use it to fuel further research.

“ILAB’s reports on child labor and forced labor raise awareness and provide governments and civil society with tools to improve the rights and protections for these vulnerable workers,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs Carol Pier. “My hope is that our new Sweat & Toil app and the open data are used to promote social good, enabling more people to empower themselves with knowledge about these issues. We want more people asking questions, taking action and demanding change.”

More information about the report is available at Email ideas to improve the app, submit information regarding child labor or forced labor globally, or ask questions related to technical issues through Join the conversation on Twitter by using #EndChildLabor and tagging @USDOL

ILAB leads the U.S. government’s efforts to ensure that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy. To these ends, ILAB designs programs in part based on the research the bureau conducts on child labor and forced labor, and it has funded 292 projects in 90 countries to combat the worst forms of child labor by providing assistance to vulnerable children and their families.

ILAB News Release: [09/30/2015]
Contact Name: Egan Reich
Phone Number: (202) 693-4960
Release Number: 15-1918-NAT

Illinois: New Law Expands Scope of State Equal Pay Act

Law Effective January 1, 2016

A new law, effective January 1, 2016, expands coverage of the state’s Equal Pay Act to all employers.

The state Equal Pay Act prohibits covered employers from paying unequal wages to men and women for doing the same or substantially similar work, requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility, under similar working conditions for the same employer in the same county (except if the wage difference is based upon a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or factors other than gender).

Expanded Coverage

Under the new law, a covered employer is an individual, partnership, corporation, association, business, trust, person, or entity for whom employees are gainfully employed in Illinois (and includes the state of Illinois, any state officer, department, or agency, any unit of local government, and any school district). Prior to January 1, 2016, the state Equal Pay Act applies to employers with 4 or more employees.

Click here to read the text of the law.

For more information on other state laws specific to Illinois, visit the State Laws section, click on Illinois, and choose your topic of interest from the left-hand navigation menu.


Grants to help once-incarcerated veterans return to work, avoid homelessness

Department announces $1.5 million to serve more than 650 vets in six states

WASHINGTON — Supporting the president’s goal to eliminate homelessness among U.S. military veterans, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service today announced the award of $1.5 million in grants to help once-incarcerated veterans considered “at risk” of becoming homeless. In all, seven grants will serve more than 650 formerly incarcerated veterans in six states.

“Everyone deserves a second chance, especially the men and women who have sacrificed for our country,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program opens doors for veterans who may have struggled but who want to return to America’s workforce. Today’s grants will help these veterans become valuable contributors to the nation’s economic recovery and our society.”

The Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program grants will provide referral and counseling services to assist in reintegrating and/or transitioning formerly incarcerated veterans considered “at risk” of becoming homeless to meaningful employment. The funds will also support the development of methods to address the complex problems facing these veterans. The program’s design is flexible, to enable it to address national, regional and/or local issues that prevent once-incarcerated veterans from returning to the workforce.

The grant recipients and award amounts are as follows:

Organization City State


Veterans Multi-Service Center Philadelphia Pa.


Goodwill Industries of Houston Houston Texas


Volunteers of America of Los Angeles Los Angeles Calif.


Impact Services Corporation Philadelphia Pa.


United States Veterans Initiative Las Vegas Nev.


The Workplace Inc. Bridgeport Conn.


Aletheia House, Inc. Birmingham Ala.




For more information on these grants, visit

VETS News Release: [09/23/2015]
Contact Name: Joe Versen
Phone Number: (202) 693-4696
Release Number: 15-1886-NAT

FedEx Announced Possible Delays Due to Papal Visit to the U.S

Pope-iPhone-6sLast updated: September 22, 2015

The papal visit to the U.S. is expected to cause delays and disruptions in the Washington, D.C., New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA metro areas including some bridges and tunnels leading into and out of the areas. FedEx will be operating during this event, although customers may experience service delays and disruptions in these areas because of local restrictions.

We have implemented contingency plans to help mitigate delays. Our goal is 100% reliability and we appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding while our operations teams work to minimize any delays. Please continue to check for updates.

We have implemented contingency plans to help mitigate delays. Our goal is 100% reliability and we appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding while our operations teams work to minimize any delays. Please continue to check for updates.

For general travel information including road closures, please visit Pope Francis Visit 2015.

Click here to download additional details on cities, states and ZIP Codes affected by the papal visit.

Continue to check the status of your shipments on before going to any staffed FedEx location. You can also contact FedEx Customer Service at 1.800.GoFedEx 1.800.463.3339 or stay up to date by subscribing to service disruption email notifications at the FedEx Email Subscription Center.

Shipping to affected areas?
To help avoid delays, we encourage you to contact your recipients to verify whether their location is open or able to receive deliveries before and after the papal visit to the U.S. In the event of evacuations, shipments not delivered before the papal visit to the U.S. will be secured in one of our facilities. Delivery will be attempted when it is safe to do so.

Note that potential service disruptions may not affect FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Office, etc. the same. This may result in different levels of impact as well as cities, states and ZIP Codes serviced.

Continue to check for service updates. For specific shipment status information, please track your shipment at You can also contact FedEx Customer Service at 1.800.GoFedEx 1.800.463.3339 or stay up to date by subscribing to FedEx Service Alert email notifications at the FedEx Email Subscription Center. Consistent with the provisions of the FedEx Service Guide, shipments delayed due to the papal visit to the U.S. are not eligible for a refund or credit under the money-back guarantee policy.


45-year-old worker loses parts of 3 fingers on table saw

OSHA determines Material Control Systems Inc. failed to follow machine safety procedures

CORDOVA, Ill. — A 45-year-old lost part of three fingers when his left hand caught in a table saw at a Cordova company that fabricates reusable shipping containers. Doctors reattached the fingers, but had to amputate the tip of his left middle finger. The employee has been unable to return to work.

A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection found that his employer, Material Control Systems Inc., failed to follow safety practices that could have prevented the June 17 amputation. The company received one willful safety violation from OSHA on Sept. 3. Proposed penalties total $63,000.

“The injury could permanently affect this man’s ability to earn a living,” said Thomas Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria. “Had Material Control Systems installed machine guards to prevent the worker’s hand from contacting the saw, he would not have suffered. Each year, thousands of workers are injured on -the -job because their employers fail to follow safety rules.”

These violations are among OSHA’s most frequently cited, and can result in death or permanent disability.

View current citations here.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Peoria Area Office at 309-589-7033.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

OSHA News Release: [09/08/2015]
Contact Name: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke
Phone Number: (312) 353-6976
Email: or
Release Number: 15-1665-CHI

The Cities with the Highest (and Lowest) Real Minimum Wage


Juan Jose Gutierrez Barrow via Getty Images

Over the past several years, cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have opted to enact their own minimum wage laws in lieu of increases at the state or federal level. Part of the logic behind these increases is that living costs in cities are higher, making it harder to survive on a low income. An hourly wage that may be adequate to pay for basic expenses like housing and food in rural areas may fall short for people who live within city limits.

So which cities have the highest minimum wage in terms of purchasing power (that is, adjusted for the cost of living)? And, conversely, where does this “real” minimum wage fall short?

Data & Methodology

To answer those questions, SmartAsset collected data on state and city minimum wages from around the country. Then, for 141 of the largest cities in the U.S., we adjusted the applicable local minimum wage according to the local cost of living.1In our initial analysis, we used the current minimum wage (as of August 2015) in each city. For cities and states that differentiate between large and small employers, we used the large employer wage.

For example, in Seattle the current large-employer minimum wage is $11 per hour and the cost of living is over 20% higher than the national average. Thus, in terms of purchasing power, the minimum wage in Seattle is about $8.38. That is the “real” minimum wage. It ranks as the 37th highest of the cities we examined.

Since many cities and states have enacted legislation that calls for regular increases in the minimum wage over the next several years, we also wanted to see where things will stand once those increase schedules are complete. We applied the same cost of living analysis to every city’s future maximum rate (or the current rate for cities where no increases are scheduled) and re-ranked according to these future rates.2

Key Findings

It’s good to live in Eastern Washington. The three cities with the highest real minimum wage are all located in the eastern half of Washington State. The Evergreen State has had the highest state-level minimum wage for nearly two decades and cities in the sunny eastern half of the state have relatively low living costs.

Albuquerque’s wage pays off. Albuquerque was one of the first major cities to enact its own minimum wage law. It is the only city with its own minimum wage to rank in the top ten of our study.

The Northeast is falling behind. Five of the ten cities with the lowest real minimum wage are located in the Northeast: Philadelphia, Stamford, Boston, Newark and Portland (Maine). Furthermore, while most low-wage West Coast cities are planning future wage increases (see Anchorage and Los Angeles, for example), these northeast cities have no such plans in the works (although state-level increases are planned in Connecticut and Massachusetts).

Top 10 Cities with the Highest Real Minimum Wage

Kennewick, WashingtonKennewick is the largest of the cities located in Eastern Washington’s Tri-Cities region. Along with Pasco and Richland (the other two), it may be the very best city in the country for workers who are living on the minimum wage.

There are two reasons for that. The first is that Washington State has the highest minimum wage of any U.S. state, at $9.47 an hour. Meanwhile, the Tri-Cities area has the lowest cost of living of any major metro in Washington, with living expenses 5.5% lower than the national average. Thus, workers in Kennewick enjoy a real minimum wage closer to $10.02 per hour.

Spokane, Washington

For the second-ranked city in our study we head about 140 miles northeast to Spokane, the largest city in Eastern Washington. The cost of living in the Lilac City is about 3.7% below the national average. That makes it a little easier for workers living on Washington’s $9.47 minimum wage to afford basic expenses like rent and health insurance.

Yakima, Washington

The Yakima Valley produces a significant portion of the nation’s apples and hops and the city of Yakima is the region’s economic hub. Minimum wage workers in Yakima earn $9.47 an hour, but when considering the city’s slightly lower-than-average living costs that is equal to $9.69 in purchasing power. That’s the third highest real minimum wage in the country.

Pueblo, Colorado

The Colorado Constitution (Article XVIII, Section 15) requires that the state’s minimum wage is adjusted annually for inflation. That ensures that if living costs rise, wages paid to low-income workers do too. While many major cities in Colorado have above-average living expenses, the cost of living in Pueblo is 14% below the national average. That means the state’s $8.23 minimum wage goes a lot further.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque was the first major U.S. city to enact its own minimum wage law. The ordinance was passed in 2006 and called for regular minimum wage increases up to January 2013, when it would reach $8.50 per hour. Thereafter, the wage would be annually adjusted based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. Today, the city’s minimum wage is $8.75.

Unlike other cities that have recently added their own minimum wage, such as Seattle and San Francisco, the cost of living in Albuquerque is not especially high. In fact, the cost of living in Albuquerque is about 7% lower than the national average. That means that in terms of purchasing power the city’s $8.75 minimum wage is closer to $9.45.

Kalamazoo, Michigan

In 2014, Michigan lawmakers passed legislation that will gradually increase the minimum wage to $9.25 from its previously level of $7.40. The first of those increases took place on Labor Day of last year, with the wage rising to its current rate of $8.15. Future increases will take place on the first day of the year through 2018, when it will reach its maximum and be tied to inflation. That’s great news for Kalamazoo workers, who face the lowest cost of living of any major Michigan city.

Decatur, Illinois

The Illinois state minimum wage is $8.25 per hour, 14th highest in the country. Earlier this year, the Illinois state Senate passed a bill that would increase that wage to $11 but that bill has yet to pass the state house. If that bill does pass, Decatur may well one day have the highest real minimum wage in the country. Even without that increase, minimum wage workers in Decatur, where the cost of living is 11.3% lower than the national, are earning a cost-of-living-adjusted wage of about $9.30 per hour.

Springfield, Illinois

Since the city of Springfield does not have its own minimum wage, workers in the Illinois capital are paid the state minimum of $8.25. Yet, after adjusting for cost of living, that wage goes farther than the minimum wage in one Illinois city that has passed its own minimum wage law. Chicago’s $10 per hour minimum wage has a purchasing power of $8.74, while the purchasing power of the state minimum wage in Springfield is closer to $9.26.

Buffalo, New York

The current minimum wage in New York is $8.75 per hour. That is the 10th highest minimum wage in the country. For full time workers it adds up to an annual income of $18,200. That’s a fraction of what it costs to afford basics like housing and healthcare in New York City, but it goes a lot further in Buffalo. After adjusting for the city’s cost of living, the purchasing power of the minimum wage in Buffalo is $9.21. That’s good for an annual income of about $19,150.

Tacoma, Washington

SmartAsset’s analysis found that the purchasing power of the minimum wage in Tacoma is $9.17. That’s slightly lower than the nominal minimum wage ($9.47 per hour, the state rate) as Tacoma’s cost of living is about 3% higher than the national average. Yet, it still ranks as the tenth highest in the country and it soon may rise even higher than that.

In November, Tacoma residents will cast their votes for a ballot initiative to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, following in the footsteps of nearby Seattle and SeaTac. If that initiative passes, Tacoma would likely have the highest cost-of-living-adjusted minimum wage in the U.S.

Top 10 Cities with the Lowest Real Minimum Wage

Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaThe minimum wage in Pennsylvania is $7.25, equal to the federal minimum wage. In Philadelphia, where the cost of living is nearly 20% higher than the national average, that hourly minimum has a purchasing power of just $6.12. That’s the lowest of any city in our study and its equal to an annual income of about $12,730.

Stamford, Connecticut

While Connecticut’s minimum wage ranks as the fourth highest in the country at $9.15 an hour, that is not enough to overcome the high cost of living in Stamford. According to the Council for Community and Economic Research, living expenses in Stamford are 45.9% higher than the national average. Thus, the real minimum wage in Stamford is closer to $6.27 an hour.

Boston, Massachusetts

According to, the average rent on a one bedroom apartment in Boston is $2,085. At the state minimum wage of $9 per hour, a worker would need to work about 58 hours per week in order to pay that average rent.

Even if a full-time minimum wage worker were able to find an apartment at half that rate, she would need to spend over 70% of her income on rent alone. (Owning a home would be out of the question.) There is relief coming, however. The Massachusetts minimum wage will be increasing to $11 an hour over the next two years.

San Diego, California

San Diego has been on something of a minimum wage roller coaster in recent years. Following two city council votes, a mayoral veto and a last-minute signature petition drive, San Diego will have to wait until June 2016 to decide once and for all whether or not its minimum wage will increase to $11.50 an hour.

In the meantime, workers will continue to earn the state minimum wage. It is currently set at $9.00 an hour and will increase to $10 an hour in 2016. Even that number may change, however. The California State Senate recently approved a bill that would increase the state minimum to $13 an hour.

All of which is good news for minimum wage workers in San Diego. Given the city’s high cost of living, the purchasing power of the current minimum wage is just $6.63 an hour, fourth lowest of any city in SmartAsset’s study.

Newark, New Jersey

The minimum wage in New Jersey is chained to the Consumer Price Index, which means that when the cost of living in the state increases, so does the minimum wage. The current minimum wage in the Garden State is $8.38 an hour, 13th highest in the U.S. Yet, in Newark, where living costs exceed the national average by 25%, that wage has a purchasing power of just $6.67.

Portland, Maine

In July of this year, the Portland City Council voted to approve a citywide minimum wage of $10.10 in 2016, which will increase to $10.68 in 2017. When that happens, Portland’s cost-of-living-adjusted minimum wage will jump from the sixth lowest in the country to the 12th highest.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is one of several cities that has adopted a plan to eventually increase the city minimum wage to $15 an hour. That increase will be implemented over the course of five years beginning in 2016 when the wage will rise to $10.50. In the meantime, minimum-wage workers will continue to face some of the highest living costs in the country, which reduce the purchasing power of the current $9 an hour minimum wage to $6.75.

Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage does not have its own minimum wage, which means the statewide minimum wage applies. The Alaska minimum wage is currently $8.75 but is set to rise to $9.75 in 2016. It also bears mentioning that permanent Alaska residents benefit from a state tax system that pays out annual dividend checks, often exceeding $1,000, just for living in the state.

Madison, Wisconsin

Cities and other local governments in Wisconsin are specifically prohibited from enacting minimum wage laws that differ from the state minimum of $7.25.

That means that if voters or legislators in Madison wanted to increase the city’s minimum wage, they could not. Indeed, a 2014 ballot measure in Dane County (in which Madison is located) called for the state to increase the minimum wage to $10.10. It passed with over 70% of the vote.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Like Wisconsin, Arizona has a law that prevents local governments from enacting their own minimum wage laws. Recently, a group of Flagstaff residents challenged that law in the courts, citing Flagstaff’s high cost of living.

Our analysis confirms that minimum wage workers in Flagstaff earn significantly less – in terms of purchasing power – than those elsewhere in the state. The cost-of-living-adjusted minimum wage in Flagstaff is $6.81, as compared with $8.31 in Tucson and $8.41 in Phoenix.

The Real Minimum Wage in 2020

Many of the cities and states listed above have scheduled major minimum wage increases in coming years. With that in mind, SmartAsset wanted to see where things will stand when the dust settles. Assuming no further changes in city, state or federal minimum wage laws and assuming no changes in the cost of living in any of these cities (two major assumptions, we know), here are the Top Ten Cities with the Highest Real Minimum Wage for the year 2020.

Top 10 Cities with the Highest Real Minimum Wage in 2020

Photo credit: ©

1. Cost of living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
2. This portion of the analyses is inherently flawed, as the cost of living in all of these cities is sure to change over the next several years, especially given the changing wages.


Executive Order Establishes Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contract Workers

New Provisions Generally Applicable to New Contracts in 2017

Under a new Executive Order applicable to covered contracts where the solicitation for such contract has been issued (or the contract has been awarded outside the solicitation process) on or after January 1, 2017, workers on such contracts will earn a minimum of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

Accrual of Leave

  • Executive departments and agencies generally must ensure that new contracts, contract-like instruments, and solicitations (collectively referred to as “contracts”) include a clause—which the contractor and any subcontractors must incorporate into lower-tier subcontracts—specifying, as a condition of payment, that all employees must earn at least 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
  • A contractor may not set a limit on the total accrual of paid sick leave per year (or at any point in time) at less than 56 hours.
  • Accrued paid sick leave must carry over from 1 year to the nextand must be reinstated for employees rehired by a covered contractor within 12 months after a job separation.
  • The Executive Order does not require a covered contractor to make a financial payment to an employee upon a separation from employment for accrued sick leave that has not been used (but unused leave is subject to reinstatement as described above).

Use of Leave

  • Paid sick leave may be used for an absence resulting from physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition; obtaining diagnosis, care, or preventive care from a health care provider; caring for certain relatives; or for certain instances related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Employee Notice

  • Paid sick leave must be provided upon an employee’s oral or written request that includes the expected duration of the leave, and is made at least 7 calendar days in advance where the need for the leave is foreseeable (and in other cases as soon as is practicable).

Note: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to issue regulations that, among other things, may provide definitions, recordkeeping requirements, and further guidance on the specific types of contracts and contract-like instruments subject to the Executive Order.

Additional information and requirements are available in the text of theExecutive Order.

Our Compliance Assistance for Federal Contractors page features helpful resources for federal contractors and subcontractors.

Originally posted by WWW.HR360.COM

Military Leave in North Carolina (NC)

Any member of the North Carolina National Guard who enters state duty is entitled—upon honorable release from state duty—to certain reemployment rights provided for by law, which include (among other things) the following:

  • An individual who is a member of the North Carolina National Guard who performs, has performed, applies to perform, or has an obligation to perform service in the North Carolina National Guard must not be denied initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment by an employer on the basis of that membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation.
  • Upon release from state duty, the employee must make written application to his or her previous employer for reemployment within 5 days of release from duty or from hospitalization continuing after release.
    • If the employee is still qualified for his or her previous employment, the employee must be restored to his or her previous position or to a position of like seniority, status, and salary—unless the employer’s circumstances now make the restoration unreasonable.
    • If the employee is no longer qualified for his or her previous employment, he or she must be placed in another position for which he or she is qualified, and which will give the employee appropriate seniority, status, and salary—unless the employer’s circumstances now make the placement unreasonable.
  • The law does not require an employer to pay salary or wages to a member of the North Carolina National Guard during the member’s period of active service.

Special Update: Under a new law effective October 1, 2015, the above provisions also apply to any member of the National Guard of another state. The new law applies to denials of initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment by an employer on or after such date. Click here to read the text of the law.

For More Information

Please Note: The state laws summaries featured on this site are for general informational purposes only. State laws change frequently and, as such, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information featured in the State Laws section. For more detailed information regarding state laws, please contact your state labor department.

Originally posted by

California closes in on equal pay for women, in bill described as ‘stronger than federal law’

Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, right, is congratulated by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, after her measure to close the gender wage gap in California, was approved by the Assembly, Thursday, in Sacramento. The bill, AB1017, bars employers from using previous salary information as justification for paying women less then their male co-workers, now goes to the governor. RICH PEDRONCELLI, AP

California could soon boast one of the nation’s toughest laws aimed at closing the salary gap between men and women.

State lawmakers gave final approval this week to the California Fair Pay Act, which says women must be paid the same as their male colleagues for “substantially similar work.” It leaves limited exceptions, such as rewarding more extensive training, education or experience.

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law.

“It’s not only the strongest state law in the country. It’s stronger than federal law,” said Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, a women’s rights organization that lobbied for the bill.

The legislation, which applies to all businesses, beefs up California’s existing anti-discrimination law by requiring employers show that a pay difference between male and female workers is based on a legitimate factor, such as seniority or a merit-based system.
Simply having different titles isn’t a defense under the bill. A hotel housekeeper, for instance, could challenge higher wages paid to male janitors, who do substantially the same work, noted Farrell.

The Fair Pay Act, SB358, also prohibits retaliation against workers who discuss colleagues’ wages. It doesn’t require employers to disclose wages.

Supporters say women often fail to challenge pay gaps because they don’t know they exist. Farrell said many of the women who call her organization’s hotline say they are too scared to discuss their colleagues’ pay with their bosses.

In addition, the legislation closes a loophole in existing law by allowing people who work for employers with multiple locations to challenge their pay based on the wages of workers at other sites.

Farrell’s organization isn’t typically on the same side as the business community, but in this case it was. The bill had the support not just of labor groups but also the California Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber dropped its initial opposition after getting additional clarity on the exceptions under which an employer may provide differential pay.

“We are hopeful that SB358 will limit litigation as it provides an objective criteria for employers at the outset to determine the pay base for employees and make sure those are not determined based on gender,” Chamber policy advocate Jennifer Barrera said in a recent statement.

The legislation wasn’t particularly contentious among lawmakers, either. The California Assembly passed the legislation 76-2 on Aug. 27. State senators unanimously approved the bill on Monday. Orange County’s entire legislative delegation voted for the bill.

Only one major organization opposed the bill: California National Organization for Women. Though the group advocates for pay equality, it opposed the legislation because it did not include specific protections against wage discrimination based on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

The law’s author, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, cited studies that found California women earned 84 cents to every dollar men earned.

Nationally, women make 78 cents on every dollar men make. Women of color fare worse, with Latino and black women earning 54 percent and 64 percent of white men’s earnings, according to the American Association of University Women.

California has prohibited gender-based wage discrimination since 1949. However, the state provisions have been used rarely due to language that makes it difficult to establish a successful claim, the legislation says.

Under the bill, employees can sue for wage discrimination or retaliation in civil court. Or they can file complaints with the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The state agency would keep workers’ names confidential during the investigation, the bill says. The office would supervise the payment of wages and interest due to employees of a company that violates the law.

The Orange County Register
Contact the writer:

The Who, What, Where, When and How of Labor Day. But There’s Some Debate about the “Who”

What we know as the Labor Day holiday today evolved over time. In 19th century America, there was already a tradition of having parades and picnics in support of labor issues, such as shorter hours or to rally workers or strikers. But most historians emphasize one specific event in the development of today’s modern Labor Day: a parade of unions and a massive picnic that took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882.

At first there was fear that the celebration was going to be a failure. Most of the workers had to lose a day’s pay in order to participate. As the program began, only a handful of workers had shown up . . . but then slowly they came – 200 workers and a band from the Jewelers’ Union . . . then came a group of bricklayers with another band. By the time the parade reached the park for the picnic, it was estimated that there were 10,000 marchers! The park was decorated with flags of many nations. Workers picnicked, drank beer and listened to speeches from the union leadership. In the evening, even more workers came to watch fireworks and dance. Newspapers declared it a huge success and “a day of the people.”  After that, the idea of parades and picnics celebrating workers caught on across the country.Labor Day as a national, legal holiday had an interesting evolution. The legalized celebration began as individual state celebrations. In 1887, New York, New Jersey and Colorado were among the first states to approve state legal holidays. Then other states joined in to create their own state Labor Days. Finally, in response to a groundswell of support, Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced S. 730 to the 53rd Congress to make Labor Day a legal holiday on the first Monday of September each year. It was approved on June 28, 1894.

When studying the history of Labor Day, two names stand out, and they sound just alike. One is Peter J. McGuire, an official in the American Federation of Labor and organizer of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. The other is Matthew Maguire, a machinist from the Knights of Labor. The problem with declaring a single “founder” of Labor Day is that, at the time, no one realized that a new national holiday was being born. It was only after the fact that people tried to pinpoint the founding father.

Seven years after that first New York Labor Day parade, the magazine for the Carpenters union claimed their union brother, McGuire, made the original proposal to have the Labor Day event in New York and called for one day a year to be set aside as Labor Day. The article was reprinted yearly, so it became the common assumption that these were the facts.

However, in 1967, a retired machinist from Maguire’s union stepped up and claimed that his Machinist union brother was, in fact, the originator of Labor Day. He pointed to a newspaper article written nine years after the New York parade titled “Labor Day: Its History and Development in the Land.” It claimed that the first Secretary of the Central Labor Union, Maguire, was the one who organized the parade. This claim was supported six years later when the grand marshal of the New York parade of 1882 himself reminisced about how Maguire from the Knights of Labor had first suggested the idea.  

So the historical conundrum seems to hinge on the fact that the two names sound alike and were probably mixed up in the common consciousness. Toss in the years of rivalry between the American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor and, of course, you’re going to have multiple heroes emerging in the legend of Labor Day.

But this year, we’re going to try to put the argument to a rest, and let workers across America cast their ballot for who they think is the true father of Labor Day: So it’s McGuire v. Maguire!