Yuki Noguchi

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. In a weeklong series, NPR explores many aspects of this change.

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce. Workers across all industries and at all professional levels will be touched by the movement toward independent work — one without the constraints, or benefits, of full-time employment. Policymakers are just starting to talk about the implications.

The sexual harassment scandals over the past couple of months are causing some workers to rethink some of their office behaviors. Is it still OK to compliment a colleague on the way he or she looks? What about a congratulatory hug? Acceptable, or too risky in this new environment?

Navigating those distinctions isn't always clear.

At a recent office meeting, Bela Gandhi received a compliment from a man who told her, "you look great." Moments later, the man paused, reconsidered his comment, then wondered aloud whether Gandhi found it inappropriately sexual.

Office holiday parties have always posed a liability for employers, as coworkers mix with one another with plenty of company-supplied alcohol. Sensitivity is running particularly high this year, though, as new sexual harassment allegations emerge against high-profile figures every day.

Office holiday functions do serve a legitimate business purpose: They can boost morale and reward workers for jobs well done.

The Trump administration has been eliminating some protections that allow more than 300,000 people to live and work in the U.S. under what is known as temporary protected status. Many could face deportation when their status expires.

An estimated 50,000 of them work in the construction industry, concentrated in areas like Texas, Florida and California that are recovering from hurricanes and wildfires and where labor shortages in construction are especially acute.

Many actors, politicians and executives, including at NPR, are now facing sexual-harassment allegations in the court of public opinion.

But in actual courts, such cases filed by workers against their employers are very often dismissed by judges. The standard for harassment under the law is high, and only an estimated 3 percent to 6 percent of the cases ever make it to trial.

Former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's ouster from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct have prompted others on social media to open up about workplace harassment complaints that have gone unheeded.

Suing one's employer can be scary enough, but it's even scarier doing it alone.

Many employers are increasingly requiring workers to sign agreements requiring them to resolve workplace disputes about anything from harassment to discrimination to wage theft through individual arbitration. In other words, the language does not permit them to join forces with colleagues who might have similar complaints.

Roughly half of Florida's homes and businesses remained without electricity on Tuesday, two days after Hurricane Irma plowed through the state. A lot of the business recovery efforts there will depend on how quickly power can be restored.

On her way to work Tuesday morning, Carol McDaniel, vice president of human resources for the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, made her way through darkened neighborhoods.

Jonathan Guffey has chiseled youthful looks and, at 32, does not have the haggard bearing of someone who has spent more than half his life hooked on opioids. That stint with the drug started at 15 and ended — he says for good — 22 months ago. He has a job working with his family in construction, but his work history is pockmarked by addiction.

"I've worked in a couple of factories for a short amount of time, probably just long enough to get the first check to get high off of," Guffey says.

Driving down the main commercial artery in Muncie, Ind., it seems the job market is doing well. The local unemployment rate stands at 3.8 percent, and there are hiring signs posted outside the McDonald's, a pizza joint and at stop lights.

Around 2007 — the last time the market was so tight — job applicants came streaming through the offices of Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency that screens and places about 120 workers a month, mostly at the local manufacturing firms.

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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State legislatures and city halls are battling over who gets to set the minimum wage, and increasingly, the states are winning.

After dozens of city and county governments voted to raise their local minimum wage ordinances in the last several years, states have been responding by passing laws requiring cities to abide by statewide minimums. So far, 27 states have passed such laws.

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