World briefs

Rise in global unemployment stats • Seniors' lobby backs age suit • Neckties discriminatory • Drug tests spur urine sales • Canada average in maternity pay

Rise in global unemployment stats

Geneva
— A weak global economy has pushed unemployment to new heights worldwide, with little prospect of any improvement this year, the United Nations’ International Labour Office reports. The number of unemployed worldwide grew by 20 million since 2000 to reach 180 million people at the end of 2002. In addition, reductions in “working poverty” achieved in the late 1990s have been reversed.

Seniors’ lobby backs age suit

Richmond, Va.
— The American Association of Retired Persons, the largest U.S. seniors’ lobby, is supporting an age discrimination suit against Capital One Financial Corp. About 60 former workers aged 40 and older are looking to join a class action suit alleging the firm used a performance-based ranking system to justify firing hundreds of older workers.

Neckties discriminatory

London
— A male civil servant won a discrimination claim against a British government office in Manchester for being forced to wear a necktie. Employee Matthew Thompson called it a victory against a draconian and discriminatory dress code. The government is appealing.

Drug tests spur urine sales

Little Rock, Ark.
— Arkansas passed a bill banning sales and trafficking in clean urine samples used to thwart corporate drug testing programs. Reacting to a brisk market in samples, the bill includes up to three months’ jail and a US$500 fine for trafficking.

Canada average in maternity pay

Melbourne
— Norway, Italy and Brazil top the list of nations providing generous statutory maternity pay, a study by Mercer Human Resources Consulting reports. Norwegian women earning about $40,000 receive just under $20,000 in benefits, compared to $9,800 in Canada. Taiwan and Singapore are at the bottom of the list at $6,000, while the U.S. and Australia have no legal requirements for maternity benefits.

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