Monday, June 5, 2017

That is SO last week

Last week, Uber announced that it had fired Anthony Levandowski, the former lead engineer for Google’s autonomous vehicle unit.  Uber hired Levandowski to lead its efforts to develop a self-driving automobile. The firing occurred in the midst of a lawsuit in which Waymo, Google’s driverless car subsidiary, alleges that Uber is using trade secrets Levandowski stole from Google to develop Uber’s self-driving vehicles. Uber denies everything.

This trade secrets dispute, which was already a unique high-stakes case, took on another dimension when Levandowski asserted his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination and refused to produce evidence and give testimony related to the 14,000 files Waymo claims Levandowski stole. Last month, the court ordered Uber to “exercise the full extent of [its] corporate, employment, contractual and other authority” to force Levandowski to return the allegedly stolen materials to Waymo.  The court noted that the Fifth Amendment does not prohibit a private employer from firing an employee who refuses to waive his Fifth Amendment rights. In a letter sent two weeks before he was fired, Uber told Levandowski that it viewed compliance with the court’s order as a condition of employment. Levandowski’s lawyers argue that the court’s order violates long-standing legal authority that does not permit the government to compel an employee to choose between his constitutional rights and his employment. 

Discrimination

The EEOC announced that Chicago restaurant chain Rosebud Restaurants, Inc. will pay $1.9 million to settle a class race discrimination lawsuit.

The Washington Post covered a sex discrimination suit that has been ongoing for 27 years.

The administration’s budget proposal calls for dismantling a division of the Department of Labor that monitors discrimination among federal contractors.

Tesla fired the female engineer who publicly accused the company of sexual harassment in a lawsuit earlier this year.

Harvard Business Review identified the omissions that make the majority of sexual harassment policies ineffective.

Technology

Quartz featured a computer scientist who thinks high-stakes algorithms should be regulated by the government.

New software that incorporates AI and facial recognition technology was designed to track whether students are paying attention in class, but could have an application in the workplace.

The Atlantic published a call for deliberately and formally improving ethics in the tech industry.

The National Law Review offered three important considerations when using big data in hiring decisions.

In Other News

HR Dive reported on a Mercer analysis revealing that companies are still not in compliance with the SEC’s CEO pay ratio rule, which requires companies to disclose the difference between a company head’s pay and workers’ earnings.

Workers alleged in a class action lawsuit that their employer’s practice of obtaining and retaining employee fingerprints for timekeeping violated Illinois’ biometric information privacy laws.

Quartz reported that more than half of U.S. employees did not use all of their vacation leave last year.

A workers’ advocacy group issued a report accusing Walmart of unlawfully punishing workers for taking legally-protected sick time for disability-related reasons or to care for family members.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld a National Labor Relations Board ruling that Whole Foods cannot prohibit employees from using recording devices in the workplace.