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Weekly News Roundup: Spain to End Unpaid Overtime, EEOC Files Gender Discrimination Suits

US companies search for loopholes to beat China tariffs

In light of the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, US companies are turning to lawyers and consultants to help minimize the costs of US tariffs on Chinese goods. They hope to find legal loopholes to avoid or reduce duties without needing to relocate manufacturing to other countries.

Corporate advisers have cautioned that attempts to reduce costs still have risks. Money can be taken back, and top executives held accountable if authorities were to retaliate against specific tariff avoidance methods. According to Geoff Pollak, leader of Alvarez & Marsal’s global supply chain practice, customs agents will hold CEOs responsible for any financial irregularities.

Australia’s Domino’s Pizza sued for underpaying employees

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises in Australia was slammed with a class-action lawsuit due to staff underpayment, causing shares to slide more than six percent to a four-year low. The suit, filed by Phi Finney McDonald in the Federal Court of Australia, alleged that the company misled franchisees by telling them not to pay delivery drivers and in-store workers wages according to industry standards.

Per the Australian Fair Work Commission, fast-food employees are owed a weekly minimum wage of A$813.60 (US$565.86). The claim also states that benefits mandated under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 like casual loading, travel expenses, penalty rates, minimum three-hour shifts, and laundry stipends were systematically avoided by Domino’s.

An investigation by the Retail and Fast Food Workers’ Union revealed the misconduct. The pizza giant, the largest franchisee of the famous brand outside the United States, said it would defend itself against the charge.

EEOC launches parallel gender discrimination suits under different statutes

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) revised pay data collection rule will go into effect on July 15. In 2016 the EEOC revised its EEO-1 form that collects pay data from employers with 100 or more employees.

The previous version required employers to report only the number of employees across ten job categories, including race, ethnicity, and sex. The new form increases employers’ obligations regarding W-2 earnings and hours worked.

In light of this new change, the EEOC has filed two gender-based compensation suits. The first case, EEOC v. Asset Strategic International, Inc., states that a female manager was paid less than her male subordinates, a clear violation of the Equal Pay Act.

The second case, EEOC v. David & Davis Enterprise, Inc., involves 11 female security guards who claimed they were paid less than their male counterparts in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Ford to cut jobs as part of European shake-up

Ford Motor Co. plans to close factories and reduce its workforce in Europe, affecting around 12,000 jobs, or 20 percent of positions in the region, through layoffs and shift reductions. The moves are part of a broader overhaul of Ford’s unprofitable European operations, and a larger cost-cutting effort as the company moves its focus toward electric vehicles and autonomous driving.

The US automaker currently has 24 manufacturing plants in Europe, and would cut it down to 18 by the end of 2020. The restructuring will help Ford reach its long-term goal of six percent margins on earnings before interest and taxes.

Spain’s battle against unpaid overtime

Spain’s government recently passed new laws to help end unpaid overtime. According to the Spanish Statistical Office’s latest figures, “Spaniards worked 5.6 million extra hours a week, of which 2.9 million hours went unpaid.” Figures from the country’s High Court showed that 54 percent of overtime hours worked in Spain are actually unrecorded.

Companies that do not comply with the rules, which include recording the start and end time of each work and retaining data on file for four years, could face a one-off fine of between EU€626 and EU€6,250 (US$711 and US$7,100). One of Spain’s largest unions called the measure “an essential tool to eliminate labor fraud.”

About the Author

Scott Sharon is a freelance writer who has contributed to Conducive Chronicle and World Policy Journal.


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