Walmart ought to be beneath tighter scrutiny due to firing of worker with Down syndrome, EEOC says

Exterior view of a Walmart store on August 23, 2020 in North Bergen, New Jersey. Walmart saw profits jump last quarter as e-commerce sales soared during the coronavirus pandemic.

Press DISPLAY | Corbis News | Getty Images

A jury found Walmart broken the law when it laid off a longtime employee with Down syndrome. Now the US Equal Employment Commission wants the judge to announce the largest private employer in the country to prevent this.

In a motion filed on Friday, the federal agency said Walmart should be under stricter supervision for the next five years and clarify in company policies that employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodation.

Also, according to the EEOC, Walmart should be forced to post a placard about the lawsuit and its actions in more than 100 stores. A draft of the memo, which the EEOC created and shared with the judge, sets out why the company was wrong in firing a longtime employee – Marlo Spaeth – and uses it as a cautionary story about the consequences of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The federal agency is demanding that the memo be posted for five years in the region where Walmart violated the ADA.

A judge ultimately decides whether or not the interim measures will be issued.

Walmart is reviewing the filing, company spokesman Randy Hargrove said.

In a previous statement, he said that Walmart executives and managers “take the support of all of our employees seriously and routinely take in thousands each year for people with disabilities”.

Marlo Spaeth (left) was fired from Walmart in July 2015 after working there for nearly 16 years. Her sister Amy Jo Stevenson has since been in litigation with the retail giant. She filed a discrimination complaint with the US Equal Opportunities Commission.

Amy Jo Stevenson

The EEOC and Walmart were Involved in litigation for Spaeth’s release for years. Spaeth, who has Down syndrome, worked for nearly 16 years as a sales rep at a Walmart Supercenter in Manitowoc, a small town in eastern Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan. She was fired from her job after the store implemented a new computerized planning system that changed its opening hours. Managers refused to restore Spaeth’s long-standing work schedule.

Walmart in July lost the lawsuit and was asked by the jury to pay more than $ 125 million in judgment – one of the highest in federal agency history for a single victim. The judge reduced the damages to $ 300,000, the maximum legal limit.

In Friday’s motion, the EEOC said Walmart should pay nearly $ 187,000 on top of that damage to make up for Spaeth’s years of lost wages. It asked the judge to require Walmart to reinstate Spaeth as an employee or to pay the equivalent of ten years’ wages in lieu of reinstatement.

However, the federal agency also argued that monetary damages payments are not enough. It called for the strictest supervision of Walmart – and the signs put up – in the area where Spaeth’s business is located. The region has more than a hundred stores, according to one of the EEOC filings, but it hasn’t specified which states and cities it covers outside of this part of Wisconsin.

In this region, Walmart should require ADA training for all managers and supervisors and include compliance with these guidelines in annual performance reviews. Walmart should also be required to notify the EEOC within 90 days of any request for consideration of an employee’s disability and provide details of that request, including the person’s name and contact information, and Walmart’s response.

The EEOC’s application corresponds to the wishes of Spaeth’s sister Amy Jo Stevenson.

In an interview with CNBC In July she said her sister was shattered when she lost her job. Stevenson said she wants all Walmart employees and managers to know what happened to her sister – and understand her rights and requirements under the ADA.

“I imagine there is a memo from Marlo Spaeth in every Walmart that says, ‘You can’t do that,’” said Stevenson.

Suga’s top-down administration fashion beneath scrutiny after collection of speedy coverage shifts

While Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga calls for a faster introduction of vaccines for a nation that is catching up with much of the developed world, his top-down leadership style is being scrutinized after weeks of quick decisions that bypassed even members of his own cabinet.

Within a month, Suga quickly set ambitious vaccine targets. Opening of mass vaccination sites carried out by the self-defense forces who complete all vaccinations for people aged 65 and over by the end of July and The goal is 1 million doses per day. Annoyed by a surprisingly slow rollout, the prime minister turned to a commanding style that he refined during his nearly eight years as chief cabinet secretary in an attempt to find a more ambitious way forward.

“I think vaccines are the key to protecting every life,” Suga said on May 14.

However, this top-down approach of delivering results quickly could backfire and undermine the government’s traditional chain of command.

In fact, the government’s armament may already be cracked: when Suga decided to put three prefectures – Hiroshima, Okayama, and Hokkaido – under quasi-emergency viral measures instead of a full state of emergency in mid-May, it was him forced to withdraw due to strong objections from experts in a government body.

More than eight months after taking office, the Suga government continues to grapple with how to resolve disagreements between officials and present a unified front to the public. As chief cabinet secretary, Suga has been recognized for his exceptional ability to coordinate with various government agencies and bureaucrats. The lack of a Suga-like figure in his own cabinet has been lamented by some, including Suga’s old boss Shinzo Abe, who noted that there is no Suga in the Suga administration.

“Someone who is responsible for the coordination within the administration becomes a bulwark against the high-ranking ruler. So it is okay to have discussions or hesitation about political decisions between them,” said Takashi Ryuzaki, former political reporter and political scientist professor at Ryutsu Keizai University.

“However, when a prime minister tries to coordinate himself and his decisions are incoherent, questions about his determination arise, as is the case now. … I have the impression that Suga can only be satisfied when he has to make decisions about everything. “

Suga showed his appetite for control with recent measures taken to respond to the health crisis by issuing orders directly to cabinet ministers.

Earlier this year, he hired Taro Kono as minister in charge of introducing the vaccine and Minoru Kihara, a special adviser to the prime minister, to oversee border control operations. The changes came despite two ministers – Health Minister Norihisa Tamura and Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura – already tasked with handling the government’s coronavirus response.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to reporters with Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi (left) at a major vaccination center in Tokyo on Monday. | POOL / VIA KYODO

He later switched on other cabinet ministers. On April 27, Suga ordered Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi to accelerate plans to open mass vaccination centers for the Self-Defense Forces in Osaka and Tokyo as both metropolitan areas were hit by a fourth wave of infections. These instructions bypassed Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, Nishimura, Tamura and Kono.

Until then, the municipalities were solely responsible for carrying out vaccinations according to the Ministry of Health’s timetable. Frustrated by the slow progress hampered by bureaucratic bureaucracy, the Prime Minister’s office continued the plan to mobilize SDF doctors and nurses to vaccinate up to 10,000 people a day in Tokyo and 5,000 a day in Osaka.

Other decisions followed a similar path.

During a press conference on April 23, the Prime Minister outlined his plan to have vaccines for every 36 million people aged 65 and over by the end of July. On May 7th, he also introduced a target of 1 million doses a day to meet the July target. Much like the plan for mass vaccination sites, Suga issued direct orders to Minister Ryota Takeda to have his Department of Home Affairs and Communications assist municipalities in ensuring a smooth vaccination program.

The prime minister’s top-down decision-making process has been an essential feature of the administration. With a view to speed, Suga used similar tactics in terms of carbon neutrality, cell phone bills, and digitization.

Rather than giving instructions to his chief cabinet secretary, who usually acts as the prime minister’s ambassador, Suga has shown a willingness to bypass Kato and deal directly with ministers. He often calls them to the Prime Minister’s office for updates and, if necessary, reprimanding them in order to speed up the project they are working on.

Ryuzaki of Ryutsu Keizai University noted that while Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga acted as an intermediary between Abe and other ministers and bureaucrats, he was frequently asked to make decisions on behalf of the Prime Minister. Suga has apparently not outgrown this position as he “does the same thing as the chief cabinet secretary,” said Ryuzaki.

“The prime minister has different issues to deal with, so there is a limit to what a person can do,” he said. “The Prime Minister makes the final decision based on the premise that there is someone in charge of broad coordination, as Mr Suga used to be. In other words, no prime minister can make all the decisions alone.

When Abe was prime minister, he consulted with a narrow circle of elite bureaucrats. He controlled the bureaucracy through Suga and Kazuhiro Sugita, the deputy head of cabinet, in order to carry out his political decisions.

Together, they employed a top-down style of leadership that expanded the decision-making authority of the Prime Minister’s office rather than letting the bureaucrats take responsibility for their own departments. Suga has earned a reputation among bureaucrats for not being ready to listen to opposing views and not hesitating to dismount them if they persistently disagree with his policies.

Sugita, who still serves as assistant cabinet secretary, reportedly orchestrated the mass vaccination plan with the help of the Self-Defense Forces. In his role, Sugita is supposed to support the chief cabinet secretary and manage bureaucrats as their head of administration. Despite his successful push for the mass vaccination sites, he appears to be less involved in making coronavirus policy decisions compared to his time under Abe. Instead, Suga often consults directly with advisor Hiroto Izumi and three senior officials from the Ministry of Health.

In terms of coordination within the administration, someone like Sugita could temporarily help with crisis management, but it would be difficult for someone in his position to do so continuously, said Izuru Makihara, a professor of Japanese politics at the University of Tokyo.

“I believe there has to be someone who can govern all ministers involved in the coronavirus response in the long term,” Makihara said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attends a Cabinet meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato (left) on May 14 KYODO

There are signs that the lack of a reliable coordinator and Suga’s leadership style may not be tenable.

On May 14, the government asked experts in a government body for approval to take emergency countermeasures against several prefectures, including Okayama and Hiroshima, and not to grant Hokkaido a state of emergency. Apparently concerned about the economic impact of a total state of emergency, Suga urged a targeted approach to stem an increasing wave of infections in these areas.

The experts, who by then had reliably approved government decisions, rebelled against Suga’s assessment: Both infectious disease specialists and economists questioned the government’s plan to keep these regions out of a state of emergency – especially Hokkaido, which has a record of 712 new cases reported the day before.

Nishimura surrendered, left in the middle of the panel and rushed to the prime minister’s office. Nishimura then conferred with Suga, Health Minister Tamura and Kato after a cabinet meeting.

In an unprecedented move, Suga went back to his decision and decided to enforce the emergency. The government gave in because almost everyone on the panel felt the strictest option was necessary, according to a senior administrator familiar with the development.

The opposition camp took the opportunity to criticize Suga’s flip-flop.

Jun Azumi, the head of the Constitutional Democratic Party on Food, reprimanded Suga, claiming the incident broke public confidence in the government’s ability to govern itself.

The turnaround exposed the government’s inadequate coordination, Ryuzaki said.

Normally, Nishimura would have “called Kato asking for Suga’s decision, which is the role of chief cabinet secretary,” said Ryuzaki. “But Nishimura rushed to the prime minister’s office knowing that talking to Kato would be meaningless and would have to ask Suga’s decision.” directly to contain the situation. “

“Nishimura should rightly have known what the experts would propose (the day before the panel discussion) and advise the prime minister, if not the chief cabinet secretary,” he said. “But he knows the Prime Minister would tell him, ‘It’s your job to convince the experts.’ … Since Suga adopts such a style, the current environment would not have allowed Nishimura to give the Prime Minister his opinion beforehand. “

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Client focus is finest response to antitrust scrutiny

Alphabet and Google are facing multiple government antitrust cases, but the company believes continuing to serve consumers is a winning strategy.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

alphabet and Google are facing increased government control. including an antitrust lawsuit filed in December, the third since October. It could take years to resolve the legal conflict with government regulators. According to Google’s head of marketing, an ongoing focus on the consumer is the best answer.

Google will continue to resonate with its users as the government scrutinizes big tech companies, the company’s marketing director Lorraine Twohill said recently at CNBC CMO exchange.

“We are by far the most helpful company in their lives and we must continue to do so,” Twohill said at the CNBC virtual event Thursday.

Twohill said user trust is a “core part” of Google’s DNA and consists of three components. This includes providing accurate and timely information as well as improving data protection and security measures to ensure user safety. Around 200 million users have already passed the platform’s privacy review, she said.

“If we continue to have a close relationship with our consumers and users by being helpful … that is the right answer for me right now,” said Twohill.

Then SVP speaks for global marketing at Google Lorraine Twohill on the stage of Creativity & Technology: Lorraine Twohill & David Droga in the discussion panel presented by Google during the Advertising Week 2015 AWXII on the Times Center Stage on September 30, 2015 in New York City.

Laura Cavanaugh | Getty Images

The government cases allege that the company used anti-competitive and exclusive contracts to ensure a continued monopoly on online search and to prevent competitors from accessing many of these sales search channels.

Earlier this month, the company called the case “a misleading attack” on the advertising technology business, while addressing a claim the company allegedly conspired on Facebook to Fixed prices and minimize competition.

While government attorneys claim that the tech giant’s business practices are restricting consumers’ access to competing technologies, Google executives focus on the argument of delivering the services consumers want and improving them.

Google’s economic policy director Adam Cohen responded to the latest lawsuit in one blog entry This complaint “suggests that we shouldn’t have worked to improve the search, and that we should, in fact, be less useful to you.”

Google isn’t the only big tech company under scrutiny. Facebook has gone through a number of government antitrust cases including filed a lawsuit last month by the Federal Trade Commission and a number of attorneys general from 48 territories and states who claimed the tech beast used its power to eliminate competitive threats in acquiring platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram.

Amazon could possibly face increased government scrutiny under the Biden governmentwhile AppleApp Store has too was a focus for possible regulatory measures.

As the largest tech companies in the history of the world, they are under competition law scrutiny – sometimes as in the case of the Billions of dollars that Google pays Apple To be the default search engine for iPhones, Twohill said it was important not to put them all together.

“It’s important not to put all of the big technologies in one bucket. We’re all very different, we think and work very differently,” she said.