Workplace Fairness (WF) is a California-based nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 as the National Employee Rights Institute. The group adopted its current name in 2001. Today WF professes to maintain “the most comprehensive, online one-stop-shop for free information about workers’ rights.” Its mission is to “promote the fair treatment of workers through public policy.” Toward that end, WF publishes books on employee rights, and disseminates daily and weekly emails to provide the public with the latest news about employee organizing, legal developments in employment law, and trends in the labor market.
WF’s seminal document is a Workplace Bill of Rights (WBOR) which it urges all American employers to abide by. This document stipulates, among other things, that all full-time workers should earn enough money “to afford—for themselves and their children—safe and comfortable housing, nutritious food, adequate clothing, quality health care, retirement security, education, reliable transportation, and at least some leisure activities and savings, without depending on government assistance or charity.” Further, the WBOR says that when workers are justifiably terminated, “meaningful job training, career counseling, severance pay and benefits, and unemployment insurance should be available” to them.
At this time, WF focuses its attention and efforts on the major issues listed below:
• Jobs: WF maintains that many American corporations “have sufficient work and financial resources to create new jobs [but] are not doing so, preferring instead to channel the dividends to investors” while boosting executive salaries. As a partial remedy for this problem, WF supports “a continuation of unemployment benefits” and the expansion of government-funded job-training programs “to provide a better safety net” for workers.
• Wages: Complaining that “the financial gap between corporate executives and the average American worker is wider than ever,” WF demands “immediate action from policymakers and legislators to prevent the gap … from widening any further.” This would include such measures as “federal legislation to limit corporate executive pay”; a raise in the federal minimum wage “to a level which will lift workers out of poverty”; the enactment of “living wage” laws to boost low-end salaries; and increased worker unionization.
• Healthcare: “Adequate health care for workers and their families, whether provided by employers, the government, or a combined employer-government approach, is a vitally important goal of Workplace Fairness.”
• Retirement: WF laments that traditional pensions “are quickly becoming a thing of the past,” Social Security is headed toward insolvency, and “the retirement savings of thousands of employees were lost when major corporations … went bankrupt because of [their own] malfeasance.” Such realities, says WF, have a disparate impact on nonwhite minorities, who are less likely than whites to have saved money for retirement.
• Work-Life Balance: WF calls for the passage of laws requiring employers to implement programs such as paid family leave, flexible work hours, job sharing, telecommuting, and compressed work weeks, which “allow employees the flexibility to harmonize their work and family responsibilities.”
• Discrimination: WF believes that the American workplace is rife with all manner of “unfair and unlawful discrimination.” For example: (a) the “overt discrimination … and subconscious bias” that “pervasively limit the ability of African Americans to obtain fair treatment” is exacerbated by “politicized resistance to remedial affirmative action”; (b) “most women continue to work in jobs stereotyped as female jobs,” “receive less pay than [comparable] males,” and “face limits on promotion to high-level management positions because of conscious and subconscious sex bias”; (c) “women of color … face a combination of racial and gender barriers”; (d) there are “persistent patterns of employment discrimination based upon religion, disability, and sexual orientation”; (e) “many employers resist their obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation to the needs of disabled persons”; and (f) “no federal statute prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
• Health & Safety: Noting that “each year nearly 6,000 U.S. workers are killed on the job, 50,000 more die from occupational illness, and more than 6 million … are injured or become sick on the job,” WF supports “stronger safety and health protections” in the workplace.
• Privacy: WF charges that “American employers increasingly show a lack of regard for the personal privacy of employees,” by way of such measures as “invasive monitoring” of employees’ telephone and e-mail communications; videotape surveillance of employees; computerized monitoring of work performance; drug and alcohol tests that are not “justified by legitimate business concerns”; credit checks that are “irrelevant to the job in question”; reviews of employees’ private medical records; and the use of “unreliable” psychological and polygraph tests to evaluate employees.
• Unions: WF contends that organized labor is “essential to protecting the welfare of all working Americans.”
• Undocumented Workers: According to WF, illegal immigrants are “among the most vulnerable and exploited workers in our country,” frequently victimized by “unpaid wages, dangerous conditions and uncompensated workplace injuries, discrimination, and other labor law violations.” “Workers who attempt to remedy the abuse routinely face physical and immigration-related threats and retaliation,” adds WF.
• Access to Justice: “In order to get or keep their jobs,” says WF, “an increasing number of employees are required to forfeit any access to the judicial system, as employers force employees to sign mandatory arbitration clauses…. [T]he mandatory arbitration process is often stacked against the employee.”
For additional information on WF, click here.
 By WF’s reckoning, employers should be required to show “just cause” whenever they lay off a worker. Further, WF calls for increased taxpayer funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s efforts “on behalf of American workers.”