At the end of 2018 a federal appellate court issued a long-awaited ruling that has big implications for subcontractors and employees who work in franchised businesses. The D.C. Circuit held that a company could be named a “joint-employer” (and be held liable for labor law violations) if it exercised a certain degree of “indirect control” over a worker’s wages and terms of employment. Expanding the joint-employer standard to include indirect control was one of the most controversial actions the National Labor Relations Board took up in the Obama administration, and it’s been a top priority of business groups and conservatives to overturn since Trump took office.
I wrote about the decision for The Intercept, including what it could mean for movements like the Fight for 15. While it’s possible the case could still be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, for now it’s a rare win for workers in the fissured economy.
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The second story I published looks at why New Jersey is being sued for school segregation. Most school segregation cases you’ve probably heard of, like Brown v. Board, have been in federal court — taking aim at the U.S Constitution. This one is rare and different because it’s taking aim at New Jersey’s constitution instead. (This is only the fourth state to try this strategy.) I wrote about why a lawsuit like this actually stands an unusually good shot of winning in the Garden State, but also why it could fail. It’s also a case that could impact not only school integration, but also longstanding and difficult debates over zoning and housing in the small state with small towns and even smaller school districts. You can read it in City Lab here.