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Employees gain a new litany of legislative benefits this year

(BUSINESS NEWS) New Year, new you, new employment laws! Check out the Employees Empowerment edition of new legislation on our j-o-b…s!

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Employees enjoying benefits

Y’all, it’s a new year, with new laws! The Man is putting his foot down, and for once, it actually looks like it’ll be making a mark on the right people in this new decade!

PS: If you need to fight me on the decade “actually” beginning in 2021 like a nerd, I’m based out of Austin, so take a number and come at me after you read about…:

Leaving past pay in the past

This is the one I’m the most excited about, even though it’s not nationwide yet.

No more scared, deep breaths over never working a salaried day in your field while you freelanced in between retail jobs!

No more anxiety over being ‘overqualified’ when you’re really just looking to start over somewhere new!

From now on, people in New Jersey, and Kansas City, MO can walk into interviews knowing they’re taking a step towards greater equity, and better bargaining! Now it’s not ‘Okay, how little will they take’ it’s ‘How much should we give them?’!

For the record, yours truly is loving how these turntables have turned.

Weed’s out as a weedout

Rock on, Nevada. From now on, having a little green in your gold when you leave a job screening urine sample will no longer disqualify you from the position! I won’t give y’all the whole spiel, and I don’t indulge myself, but considering what pot does and what alcohol does, I figure either we try Prohibition 2: Lame Ass Boogaloo, or we legalize both.

Just keep it off the worksite, and the sand peoples of the wild wild west are all set! Fingers crossed for a contact high from this new development nationwide.

Sidenote, now that 10 states and DC have legalized recreational marijuana usage, we’re faced with even more questions regarding travel. If you should sample the jazz cabbage brownies visiting Colorado, would proof of a flight be enough to secure a job you interview for later on? What happens if you road tripped instead?

Questions for our legislators for later.

Overtime pay! Yay!

It’s a dumb, weird, number, but if you make less than $35,568 per year…well first of all, SOLIDARITY, and backpats to you. Make like Tupac said and keep ya head up.

But more to the point, if you’re under that bar, your employers are either gonna need to pay you overtime by force, or you get an actual raise!
I’m not in the business of tolerance for ‘job creators’ that aren’t also ‘living-wage creators’, so while this isn’t the >$47k threshold that got overturned in 2016, it’s a hell of a step up from the 23.7k from the ‘aught years.

Definitely worth a prosecco pop.

All about AB5

As a part-time freelancer, I enjoy going from job to job, making my own hours, and being able to pick up extra work here and there as I actually want.

However, I’ve noticed a particularly disturbing trend during my job searches, and that’s full time, onsite contractor work. IE, taking advantage of someone’s need for a job without paying for the things freelancers trade in for the lack of benefits.

AB5 is forcing companies in California to pony up and do the right thing by treating independent contractors as real employees and sidestepping the de-facto 9-5 BS in favor of respecting people’s time.

Of course big companies like Vox and Uber are already being whiny babies about not getting to upgrade their yacht beasts to white tigers instead of those peasanty orange ones, and making workers pay for it by either refusing to comply or cutting jobs entirely.

My take is–the chickens came home, and now whoever’s signing the checks better figure out how to make an omelette. Bawk bawk.

Baby Crazy-Good

The west coast is where you want your womb to be apparently. Oregon expanded its Fair Employment Practices Act to require reasonable accommodations being made for even small companies (6 employees or more) to be made for complications due to the incredibly arduous task of growing and squeezing out a human being.

California has also expanded its preggo/parent protections by mandating pump rooms with accommodations including: electricity, a pump surface, total privacy, seating, and a running sink.

Congratulations in more ways than one!

Paid breakdown break time

18 weeks, 3.5 months, more than a quarter of the year is a long time to go without pay if something happens to you.

You get hit by a car, you have a premie baby, your spouse gets carried off by bats, and you have to journey to the hidden cities of MesoAmerica and defeat the death-bat god Camazotz in tests of wit and perseverance to get them back—these are just things that life can and will toss your way.

And in most jobs, in most places, you won’t have any recourse to making sure the lights stay on during all of that.

Well now, some employees in Washington state will be able to take those 18 weeks with guaranteed pay to care for their families, and themselves! DC and Massachusetts will be following suit soon, though it can’t come soon enough!

And states requiring paid leave are going up and up! Nevada now allows leave for any reason, and benefits in New York, California, Arizona, and Dallas, TX are also going to increase.
No longer having to reconcile a needed break with being able to feed your kids can only be a good thing. GoFundMe isn’t a viable path for every dang thing, and it’s good to see places stepping up their sabbatical game!

More like NAH-bitration

Imagine being wronged.

Not like ‘scuffed your brand new boots stepping on you by accident because they can’t look where the EFF they’re going, and also walk on the RIGHT, you FOOL’, kind of wronged.

But something along the lines of ‘My employer took the doors off the men’s bathrooms’ or ‘My coworkers are continually insulting my faith and no one’s doing anything about it’ wronged.

Normally, I’d say, sue. In many employment situations, I can do no such thing.

Agreeing to things like forgoing the right to take your employer to court as a condition of employment has become a matter of course, even in traditionally undervalued jobs. And considering how bad life can get when you’re unemployed, it’s very nearly coercion to require employees either sign their rights away, or hit the bricks.

California, has mandated that as of the dawn of 2020, no employers may mandate arbitration for discrimination claims, which is a great step forward. I’m hoping this spreads and moves into banning contracts that force employees to waive their right to band together in a class action suit.

All told, these changes represent a positive pro-worker step forward! And for anyone grumbling, reLAX. What’s good for your employees is good for your company, no ifs ands or buts. I suggest pulling the money out of post-Bring your dog Fridays-cleanup, and multicultural foosball tables, to start focusing on REAL benefits.

Save the quirky sprinkles for last.

You can't spell "Together" without TGOT: That Goth Over There. Staff Writer, April Bingham, is that goth; and she's all about building bridges— both metaphorically between artistry and entrepreneurship, and literally with tools she probably shouldn't be allowed to learn how to use.

Business News

AdvoCare MLM was painted as a pyramid scheme! Well color me surprised

(BUSINESS NEWS) AdvoCare is the most recent case of an MLM being called out as a pyramid scheme by FTC, but there’s plenty more MLMs where that came from…

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AdvoCare business structure

It’s always a good day when an MLM (multi-level marketing business) actually suffers legal repercussions. Granted, these days don’t happen nearly as often as we’d like – MLM CEOs have historically had deep pockets and a far reach – which means it’s all the more reason to celebrate when one gets called out.

Today’s culprit is AdvoCare, a Texas-based “wellness” company. AdvoCare has been fined $150 million by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for operating a pyramid scheme. The company, as well as a few of its top influencers, have been misleading people when it comes to how much money they could earn. This is pretty typical behavior for MLMs in general, though many are careful to couch your potential earnings in vague terms.

For the record, the majority of users lost money, and most who managed to turn a profit made a maximum of just $250. I say ‘just’ because it’s hard to know how long someone would have had to work to not only break even, but manage to turn a profit. MLMs make big claims about earning money, but when you have to pour a hefty sum of cash into the products, it can take a while just to break even.

That’s why many MLMs, including AdvoCare, push contributors to recruit, rather than sell the product. And if you’re thinking that sounds like a pyramid scheme, you’re totally right. This method of putting recruiting first is part of the reason AdvoCare has gotten in trouble with the FTC.

In response, AdvoCare is moving away from multi-level marketing sales and pivoting to selling products directly to retail stores, which in turn sell to customers.

Now, with AdvoCare’s downfall, don’t be surprised if other MLMs insist that they’re different because they haven’t gotten in trouble with the FTC. In fact, plenty of MLMs are quick to tell you that they’re totally legal and totally not a pyramid scheme. Sure, Jan.

First of all, if there’s a big focus on recruiting, that’s obviously a big red flag. There are plenty of pyramid scheme MLMs out there that just haven’t gotten caught yet. But there are other sneaky ways an MLM will try to rip you off. For instance, some companies will insist you buy tons of product to keep your place, and that product can be very hard to unload. Not to mention, many of the products MLMs tout are subpar at best.

AdvoCare getting called out by the FTC is a great start, but MLMs seem kind of like hydras. Cut down one and two more seem to spring up in its place. So be vigilant, y’all. Just because an MLM hasn’t gotten caught yet doesn’t guarantee it won’t still scam you out of your hard earned cash.

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Business News

Bose is closing their retail stores, but we haven’t heard the last of them

(BUSINESS NEWS) Over the last 30 years Bose has become so well understood by consumers that they don’t even need retail stores anymore. We hear them just fine.

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bose closing retail stores

Over the next few months, Bose plans to close all of their retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The company made the announcement last week. With 119 stores closing, presumably hundreds of Bose employees will be laid off, but the company has not revealed exact numbers.

However, this shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the maker of audio equipment is struggling to stay afloat. Rather, the move marks a major change in how consumers purchase tech gear.

When the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company opened its first U.S. retail store in 1993, it was making home entertainment systems for watching DVDs and listening to CDs. According to Colette Burke, Bose’s vice president of global sales, these first brick-and-mortar locations “gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us” about Bose products. “At the time, it was a radical idea,” she says, “but we focused on what our customers needed and where they needed it – and we’re doing the same thing now.”

When a lot of this equipment was new, consumers may have had more questions and a need to see the products in action before purchasing. Nowadays, we all know what noise-canceling headphones are; we all know what a Bluetooth speaker is. We’re happy to read about the details online before adding products to our virtual shopping cart. The ability for Bose to close its retail stores is probably also an indicator that Bose has earned strong brand recognition and a reputation as a reliable maker of audio equipment.

In other words, consumers are less and less inclined to need to check out equipment in person before they buy it. For those who do, Bose products can still be purchased at stores like Best Buy, Target, and Apple. But overall, Bose can’t ignore the fact that their products “are increasingly purchased through e-commerce,” such as on Amazon or directly from their website.

In a statement, Bose also said that it has become a “larger multi-national company, with a localized mix of channels tailored for the country or region.” While Bose is shutting down its retail stores in several continents, it will continue to operate stores in China, the United Arab Emirates, India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.

Burke said the decision to close so many retail stores was “difficult” because it “impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day.” Bose is offering “outplacement assistance and severance to employees that are being laid off.”

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Business News

Finally the American workforce is now mostly women!

(BUSINESS NEWS) Women officially make up more than half the workforce, but that doesn’t mean total equality. So what does this tipping of the scale mean?

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women workforce

Equality for women has finally been achieved: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now make up more than half of the workforce! That’s it, that’s the article.

Kidding. Just because women are currently in the majority doesn’t mean all their problems are solved.

First, it’s worth noting that although women currently make up more than half of employees on payroll, that number is slight (50.04% to be exact). Not to mention, women are very likely to fall back in the minority once construction – a male dominated profession – picks back up in the spring.

Still, the number of women in the workforce has been growing over the last decade. While jobs in manufacturing – another male dominated field – are dwindling, jobs in education and healthcare are growing. When it comes to K-12 teaching, for example, women are more likely to fill teaching roles. Women also dominate in nursing.

Not to mention, women are earning more degrees than men!

That said, despite this progress, women as a whole are still getting paid less than men. Part of the reason lies in the types of careers that women end up in. Those female-dominated fields we mentioned earlier? They don’t typically pay well. Plus, there’s that pesky glass ceiling that still exists in some fields. Remember, there are more CEOs named John than female CEOs.

It’s also worth noting that the information collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics only covered people on a payroll. That means the growing number of freelancers aren’t being accounted for in the report. Freelancing has become a great way for individuals, often women, to stay home and care for their family while also earning money. It would be interesting to know how freelancers shift the balance, both in employment and income.

Finally, there’s the invisible labor that women often contribute to society. According to the UN, women account for 75% of all unpaid labor – which includes things like childcare, meal prep and cleaning. This is vital labor that is not accounted for by studies like that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and sheds light into another reason why women might still have lower pay than men, on average.

So, yes, the fact that women make up over half the workforce is something to be celebrated! That said, we’ve still got work to do on the equality front.

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