World Briefs (March 25, 2002)

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|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/06/2002

MAYBE EMPLOYEES CAN’T SUE, BUT...

Washington, D.C.

— The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a federal agency can sue companies for discrimination on behalf of employees who have waived their right to sue. Before being hired, about 10 per cent of all American workers agree that any on-the-job dispute will be settled before an arbitrator rather than the courts. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission argued that it should be able to sue companies if it would help employees in general or make examples of employers who mistreat workers. In the losing opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said, “I cannot agree that the EEOC may do on behalf of an employee that which an employee has agreed not to do for himself.”

EUROPEAN UNION LOOKS TO EASE LABOUR MOBILITY

Brussels

— The European Union recently unveiled a series of measures designed to ease the flow or workers across the continent. Included in the proposals is a European health card that would enable EU citizens to tap in to their national health service regardless of which country they are in. There is also a recommendation to adopt a common European format for resumes that would be used on a voluntary basis. Just 225,000 Europeans moved from one country to another in 2000 despite not needing work visas. “Mobility is vital to create better jobs and bridge skill gaps in the EU labour market,” said the EU employment commissioner.

PUBLIC PENSION FUND GOES ETHICAL

Sacramento, Calif.

— The largest pension fund in the United States is pulling its investments from four East Asian countries out of a concern about social and human rights. The California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers), which manages $150 billion (US) in retirement savings, will look beyond traditional economic factors in assessing investment options. In a manner similar to so-called ethical investment funds, Calpers looked at, among other things, child labour, forced labour and freedom of association in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, and opted to cease investing in those countries.

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