Aug 14, 2019

Proposed labor rule would exempt religious contractors from bias regulations

Photo: Alastair Pike /AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Labor is proposing a new rule that would allow religious organizations with federal contracts to "make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government."

The big picture: This move falls in line with the Trump administration's record of easing regulations designed to protect against discriminatory hiring practices. The Department of Labor says it's proposing the rule because religious organizations are wary of accepting federal contracts due to "uncertainty regarding the scope of the religious exemption," per existing regulations.

What they're saying:

  • Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella: "Today's proposed rule helps ensure the civil rights of religious employers are protected. As people of faith with deeply held religious beliefs are making decisions on whether to participate in federal contracting, they deserve clear understanding of their obligations and protections under the law."
  • American Civil Liberties Union: "The Department of Labor just proposed a rule that aims to let government contractors fire workers who are LGBTQ, or who are pregnant and unmarried, based on the employers’ religious views. This is taxpayer-funded discrimination in the name of religion. Period."

The proposal says religious groups and companies that incorporate their owners' beliefs into their operations can hire people based on "acceptance of or adherence to religious tenets," but also "reaffirms employers' obligations not to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or other protected bases."

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Bernie Sanders releases plan to overhaul labor laws to benefit unions

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

2020 Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders released a new plan Wednesday that would overhaul labor laws in the U.S. to increase union membership and rights.

Why it matters: The Vermont senator is competing for union endorsements against a wide Democratic field. The plan's release is timed with the Iowa state convention for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

Go deeperArrowAug 21, 2019

How employers are tackling health costs

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Employers have more power over our health care system than anyone else, and they're getting more creative with how to wield it to lower costs, according to a new survey of large employers.

Why it matters: U.S. health care spending is going to become increasingly unsustainable until employers — which cover a plurality of Americans — decide they've had enough.

Go deeperArrowAug 14, 2019

A proposed HUD rule on AI could allow for housing discrimination

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

HUD recently proposed a rule that would protect financial institutions from liability for using algorithms to make lending decisions, as long as the technology used was produced or distributed by a recognized company.

Why it matters: AI can inadvertently rely on characteristics that include or are correlated with race, gender and socio-economic class, so under the proposed rule, financial institutions could make illegal determinations and hide behind an AI product.

Go deeperArrowSep 4, 2019