As WeWork continues to self-immolate, news about Adam Neumann’s golden parachute and Softbank’s plans to salvage the company dominate the headlines. There are hot takes. There are some pretty solid jokes. But caught in the crossfire are the workers, who keep getting potentially-lawbreaking missives in the middle of the night regarding their employment status.
Last week, nearly 1,000 WeWork employees across the U.S. and Canada received notice that they would be laid off on December 9th. They were offered jobs at another company, JLL, who is slated to contract them to WeWork “for the time being.” Employees were told that they had to sign the offer letter by Nov. 18th. (The letters went out five days prior). If they didn’t take on the new job (which represented a pay decrease for many people), WeWork would consider that a “voluntary resignation.”
Now, you don’t have to be a labor law expert to know that you can’t fire someone and then tell them that they left voluntarily. Whether a person left their job voluntarily or not can affect their ability to collect unemployment. In WeWork’s case, it also meant that they wouldn’t be eligible for severance. (Note that since the options were “go to a different job” or “we decide you left voluntarily,” there was no option that gave the workers the same severance that their previously laid-off coworkers received.)
In addition, WeWork’s 401k plan uses “last day rules” for 2019, meaning that the employee needs to work there the last day of the year to get their retirement plan’s employer match contributions. It’s a common employee retention plan. If you have to finish the year to get your 401k match, then the deeper into the year you are, the more money you give up by leaving. The problem is that WeWork is letting people go in early December. That means that nobody would get their 401k match for the entire year of 2019.
And those weren’t the only problems. The letters stated that there would a wage freeze at the new jobs through all of 2020. New employer JLL said that was a “typo.” But after being pinballed around so much, it’s easy to understand why the workers might not take that at face value. Moreover, the employees staring their termination in the face were also bound by non-compete clauses keeping them from looking for similar work elsewhere.
On the 22nd, WeWork backpedaled, at least to a few of its employees . They sent out a letter after business hours on Friday, which you may recognize as “the part of the week when corporations drop press releases they hope nobody actually picks up.” But this wasn’t a press release, it was a notice to their own workers. The new letter extends the terms of their employment. If they reject or rescind the JLL job offer, they won’t be laid off until February 20, 2020. They’ll have pay and benefits, but they do not have to report to work.
While that sounds like a pretty generous deal—get paid not to show up!— it’s basically the same as the three-months severance that their group of collective employees was demanding. It also brings them into compliance with New York state laws regarding notice of mass layoffs, which they were previously violating.
That said, the notice itself might not have been fully compliant with NY state law either. It showed up after hours on a Friday and gave them until Monday to respond. It wasn’t marked “urgent,” which the law requires. And many employees who aren’t in New York still seem to be stuck between the same rock and hard place they already were.
All in all, WeWork is planning on laying off 2,400 employees. Meanwhile, WeWork CEO Adam Neumann is currently slated to make $1.7 billion to walk away from his failure. Actually, let’s write that whole number out. Adam Neumann will be given $1,700,000,000 for running his company into the ground.
Let’s say you were there when the Declaration of Independence was signed. And on that day, someone said they were going to give you $19,123.25 every single day of your life. If you never spent any money, and you somehow lived 243 years, you would have 1.7 billion dollars today.
If anyone wants to pay me to run a business, university, or football team into the ground, please contact me with offers.
I’ve seen it happen up close a few times, so I’m pretty sure I know what’s involved. I don’t know if I need some special degree, or if I just point out that I’m a white dude when I apply, but I feel like I’d be pretty good at it.
UPDATE: Our story originally called the collective group a “union,” but per the group’s counsel, “WeWork employees are not part of a union… There is a coalition of cross-departmental employees of WeWork employees acting collectively to secure better employment conditions and demand fair severance packages for all laid off workers. They have been prioritizing and aggressively advocating on behalf of the building and maintenance staff.”
Court green lights demoting an employee for physical disabilities
(BUSINESS NEWS) Court rules the Americans with Disability Act doesn’t fully cover employees – but is the law actually open to some interpretation?
Wrongful termination is a hot topic these days, especially in relation to employees with disabilities. It’s commonly thought that if you have a disability, you’re safe and that no one can fire you for simply being disabled. But did you know that’s actually a myth?
Ford, who worked 12 years as a Sheriff’s Deputy, was injured when a car ran a red light and ran into her patrol car, smashing her hand. This resulted in constant pain and an inability to use her right hand. She spent the next few months working in alternative, lighter-duty areas of the department. But even after a year, she was unable to return to her initial post.
Because of this, the Sheriff’s department offered her 3 options:
1. She could move to a civilian job, with a cut in pay. This would include any associated accommodations she may need.
2. She could resign.
3. If she didn’t choose either of the above, they claimed she could be terminated.
Ford ended up choosing a demotion, and then elected to sue the department for violating the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). At the end of these proceedings, the court found that the demotion was reasonable.
But is this really the standard application for the law?
Although there are many myths associated with the ADA, the law clearly states that in order to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee, you must go through an “interactive process”, which means there must be some back and forth to accommodate the employee.
In Ford’s case, she was unable to continue her initial job as she was not provided with all the accommodations she requested and therefore, only had enough accommodations to continue with a civilian job.
What’s strange about this situation is that she was provided with a few in-depth provisions that would meet her needs, such as training for her supervisors, extra breaks when needed, so she could deal with her pain, and a more ergonomic work station. However, when she requested a voice-activated software for her computer, which would limit her need to use her right hand, she was denied.
The court stated that if there had been a lateral position available, with no decrease in pay, and Ford was qualified for the job, the ADA would have protected Ford a bit better, favoring this option over demotion.
Nevertheless, with the rise of documented disabilities in America, the lines the ADA draws for employees and employers-alike continue to seem blurred. Just like many other laws, the act seems to be open to some interpretation, but at the end of the day, when something like this is brought to the court system, American citizens are truly at the mercy of our court’s Judges and how they translate the laws.
Amazon creates new tool for doctors, but does it actually help patients?
(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon offers tool for doctors to add recorded conversations to your medical file, are they overstepping their bounds as an online seller?
On December 2, 2019, Amazon announced the release of its new service for Amazon Transcribe, a medical speech support service. This machine learning service will be able to take out the “middleman” and transcribe medical jargon from physicians in real time to patient charts, claims Amazon.
The release of Amazon Transcribe Medical adds to the company’s muscle bulking stage with its other investments as it prepares to get further into the medical arena. Recently released services like Alexa’s medication management (which allows people to request prescription refills & medication reminders through Alexa) and Amazon Care (Amazon’s own healthcare service for employees) are a few points adding to Amazon’s overall medical category weight. And let’s not forget how Amazon is also testing out the use of Alexa within a hospital context too.
However with further developments with technology into the medical field, it also brings more questions about how harmful this type of technology can be or how helpful it is overall.
All throughout the world there are more and more issues of security as newer and advanced technologies are peaking. It is almost as if people aren’t thinking enough of how information can be used negatively, did Amazon think about that? For example, say some extremists dislike a women getting an abortion through legal means and then leek her private information to the world or take their own actions to “solve” it.
What Happens Afterward
We all know that companies like Facebook or Google stores and records our information from every click and video watched, but what will happen once Amazon starts this with medical information? How will Amazon plan on acting with this stored information that physicians will be creating on our behalf? Amazon has yet to say how they plan on deleting this transcribed information afterwards or how they will use this information in the future.
More People Cared For
Who am I to say what will not be beneficial for any doctor that might spend hours trying to fill out all of their charts accurately after their excruciating shift? Maybe this is the type of change that is needed to turn the more time consuming tasks that require the most accuracy for consistent patient care. Thus, leading to doctors being able to manage more people coming through the door, and an overall healthier world.
If given consent, maybe having this data transcribed within one place can create better medical breakthroughs for the future. It could allow for easier transfer of data and for easier mapping of different patterns of symptoms that would take long to diagnose. Maybe this could be the 1st step into revolutionizing the procedures of the healthcare industry with more advancements to come for the betterment of the world. Who knows?
It is not hard to see the good intentions that Amazon has and how they are trying to make the world easier to live in. It is honorable, and what this writer is asking more business do. But as the famous quote says “ the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
TrueDialog left millions of your texts unsecured, when will they learn?
(BUSINESS NEWS) TrueDialog has left millions of text messages unsecured, these include university finance, job alerts, business marketing, and account data
Another day, another data breach. Tens of millions of people were potentially exposed because messages and personal information stored in a database of Austin-based company, TrueDialog, were left unprotected. According to researchers the database was left on the internet without a password and none of the data was encrypted.
Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, a research team at vpnMentor, discovered the breach on Nov. 19, 2019.
“This was a huge discovery, with a massive amount of private data exposed, including tens of millions of SMS text messages,” the research team said on the vpnMentor website. “Aside from private text messages, our team discovered millions of account usernames and passwords, PII data of TrueDialog users and their customers, and much more.”
TrueDialog says it is the leading SMS provider for mass text messaging, SMS marketing and personalized two-way SMS texting, according to its website. The company has been in business 10 years and provides its clients, mostly businesses and higher education organizations, with the ability to send bulk emails to clients and students.
Among the information left unprotected were messages about university finance applications, job alerts, marketing messages from businesses with discount codes, usernames and passwords, TechCrunch reported after examining a portion of the data.
The database was taken offline after TrueDialog was contacted regarding the exposure. Chief Executive John Wright didn’t return TechCrunch’s requests for comment. He did not acknowledge the security lapse to TechCrunch. The researchers at vpnMentor offered assistance to help with the security breach, but TrueDialog officials did not respond.
TrueDialog works with over 990 cell phone operators and reaches more than 5 billion subscribers around the world.
Along with its clients and their customers being left exposed, TrueDialog was also left exposed. Rotem and Locar said the breach has potentially exposed tens of millions of people in multiple ways.
Among the information the pair found were phone numbers (recipients and users), email addresses, message content, full names, and TrueDialog account information.
“It’s rare for one database to contain such a huge volume of information that’s also incredibly varied,” they said.
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