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Weekly News Roundup: Maternity Leave, Climate Change

I nternational Women’s Day last week highlighted gender inequalities in the workplace, and this week female Swiss bankers are protesting pay disparities from happening in their own office. Plus, from oil companies addressing climate change to Spotify filing an antitrust claim against Apple, here’s what you might have missed this past week in the world of corporate law.

Taking maternity leave cuts your bonus at UBS, mothers allege

Female bankers at UBS have criticized the Swiss lender over using their maternity leave as a reason for imposing cuts to their bonuses. Some mothers resigned in frustration, giving up promotions in two cases, while others have continued working for less money than they earned before they became mothers, according to current and former UBS employees. The bank promised to address the issue more than a year ago, but the women state that the practice continues.

Oil execs call for action on climate change

Some of the world's top oil executives urged their companies to actively address climate change, asserting that lack of action is scaring people away. The industry is facing a “crisis of confidence,” said Eldar Saetre, chief executive of Norwegian energy giant Equinor. BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley also spoke up, urging the industry to do more to respond to consumer demands for climate action. Shell is thus far the only Western energy company that has agreed to reduce emissions.

Ghosn structure crumbling at Nissan and Mitsubishi

Executives from the top ranks of the Japanese automakers' alliance with Renault SA are leaving in the wake of the arrest of Carlos Ghosn in November. Arun Bajaj, the alliance's senior vice president for human resources, left Nissan on March 11 after a leave of absence. Bajajhad been involved in the probe related to charges against former Chairman Ghosn.

On the same day, Mitsubishi announced that Trevor Mann, who served as the automaker's chief operating officer, will leave as of April 1. The shuffling of top executives is a part of the untangling of a power structure constructed during almost two decades by former chairman and CEO Ghosn. Now out on US$9 million bail after over 100 days in jail, Ghosn appealed to a Tokyo district court, asking to attend a board meeting. The court denied his request.

European Union offers whistleblowers new protection

The European Union will offer whistleblowers EU-wide protection for the first time. Previously, whistleblower protection was left in the hands of 28 national authorities across the continent, which resulted in varying approaches. Some member countries had no law at all. Under the European Union's new rules, whistleblowers will be protected when they report irregularities at the companies where they work.

Brazilian prosecutors probing more than 100 dams after Vale collapse

After the collapse of a dam in Vale in January, Brazilian prosecutors have launched probes into 100 high-risk dams in the country. The prosecutor's office are asking the national mining regulator to conduct new audits of the dams. If there are signs of wrongdoing, by mining inspectors and owners, such as signed documents certifying the soundness of troubled dams under pressure or fear of losing future contracts, prosecutors will open a criminal investigation.

Spotify files antitrust complaint in the European Union against Apple

Spotify filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Union. The suit, filed March 13, alleges that Apple is crushing competition and narrowing consumer choice under the rules it enforces on the App Store, namely the 30 percent cut Apple takes from subscriptions made through the App Store CEO Daniel Ek, in a blog post calling for "A Level Playing Field," warned that if Spotify pays this "tax" it would have to "artificially inflate" its prices "well above the price of Apple Music." If it doesn't pay, Ek writes, the iPhone maker applies "technical and experience-limiting restrictions" that limit Spotify's appeal.

About the Author

Wendy R. Leibowitz is a freelance contributor. Her work has appeared in the National Law Journal, American Lawyer Register, and Chronicle of Higher Education.

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