Video Suggestions

by | May 1, 2017

Video 1

“Salesforce Just Spent another $3 Million to Close Its Pay Gap”

According to the article, Salesforce announced last year that it spent $3 million to close the gap between what men and women make. Now the tech company is doubling down on its commitment to equity.

Salesforce said recently it has raised the pay of 11% of its employees around the world after another evaluation of salaries. The changes, which cost an additional $3 million, took effect recently.

The company examined salaries last year, comparing people with similar roles and adjusting for location, then corrected “unexplained differences” between men and women. As a result, 6% of employees had their pay raised. Both women and men received boosts.

This year’s study also looked at bonuses and checked for differences in pay in the United States based on race and ethnicity — not just gender.

“The need for another adjustment underscores the nature of pay equity — it is a moving target, especially for growing companies in competitive industries,” Salesforce executive Cindy Robbins said in a blog post.

The company, which provides cloud-based customer service tools for businesses, had 25,000 employees as of January 31, according to a company filing. That means about 2,750 workers had their salaries adjusted this year.

The announcement comes on Equal Pay Day, which symbolically marks how far into this year a woman would have to work to make her pay for last year equal to a man’s.

And it makes good on a longstanding promise from CEO Marc Benioff. He said that Salesforce was examining employee salaries and would take steps to ensure men and women were paid equally.

“My job is to make sure that women are treated 100% equally at Salesforce in pay, opportunity and advancement,” Benioff said at the time.

Concerns about the treatment of women at tech companies have only ratcheted up since then. Problems at Uber, in particular, have put Silicon Valley under the microscope. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had to order an “urgent” investigation in February after a former employee made allegations of sexism and harassment in a widely-read blog post.

Video 1: Salesforce CEO: It Is ‘So Easy’ to Close Pay Gap

Note: In addition to the video, please see the following article included at the below-referenced internet address:

Discussion Questions

1. Describe the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was the first modern federal anti-discrimination law, predating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by one year. The Equal Pay Act addresses one specific form of employment discrimination—pay discrimination based on gender. It was designed to address the “pay gap” between male and female employees for comparable jobs, skills, education and experience. Even though the Equal Pay Act was enacted fifty-four years ago, many would argue that gender-based pay discrimination still exists, although that gap has narrowed significantly over the decades.

2. As the article indicates, the Salesforce pay equity study checked for differences in pay in the United States based on race and ethnicity. What specific law requires employers to ensure pay equity on the basis of race and ethnicity?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination (including pay discrimination) on the basis of gender, race, national origin, culture and religion.

3. U.S.-based technology companies are some of the most progressive organizations in the country. With that being said, are you surprised that a technology company like Salesforce allowed gender differences in pay to exist until those discrepancies were only recently remedied? Explain your response.

This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. Your author was quite surprised by gender-based pay discrepancies in the technology sector, particularly since the technology industry is one of the most progressive sectors of the United States economy.

Video 2

“Wells Fargo Told to Pay Whistleblower $5.4 Million”

According to the article, federal regulators have ordered Wells Fargo to reinstate a fired whistleblower and shell out a whopping $5.4 million in restitution.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a Wells Fargo manager reported instances of bank, mail and wire fraud to supervisors as well as a company ethics hotline. Although he’d received good marks in the past, the manager was “abruptly dismissed” after speaking up.

The manager lost his job in 2010 and has not been able to find a new one. OSHA determined that his whistleblowing, protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was at least a contributing factor in his firing.

It was the largest amount of restitution the agency has ever ordered for a single whistleblower, Barbara Goto, regional administrator for OSHA in San Francisco, said in an interview.

“We take this very seriously,” Goto said. “Employees should feel free to work in an environment where they don’t suffer retaliation for reporting something that needs to be reported. If that does happen, we will do our job.”

Vince Scanlon, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, said the company plans to fight OSHA’s order.
“We take seriously the concerns of current and former team members,” Scanlon said in an email.

“This decision is a preliminary order and to date there has been no hearing on the merits of this case.  We disagree with the findings and will be requesting a full hearing of the matter.”

According to Goto, the amount of the order would reflect not only lost salary, but also other costs caused by unemployment, such as lost health benefits, having to dip into retirement savings, attorney’ fees or emotional damages.

Wells Fargo has the option to appeal the order to an administrative law judge. While the bank may dispute the amount of the restitution, the San Francisco-based firm is required under law to immediately offer the fired manager his job back as the case makes its way through court. (OSHA does not release the names of whistleblowers.)

According to Scanlon, the bank manager worked in the wealth management group ― not the community bank, which is at the center of Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal.

Last year, Wells Fargo acknowledged that its employees had opened up more than 2 million unauthorized accounts on customers’ behalf. The accounts helped Wells Fargo employees meet their unforgiving sales goals, while customers got socked with fees they weren’t aware of.

Wells Fargo was fined $185 million by regulators for the malfeasance. The bank has estimated that the scandal could cost it an estimated $1.7 billion through lawsuits and government investigations.

There are still a dozen ongoing investigations tied to the scandal.

Some Wells Fargo employees were trying to blow the whistle on the fake accounts scam as far back as 2005.

Video 2: Wells Fargo Told to Pay Whistleblower $5.4 Million

Discussion Questions

1. Who is a “whistleblower?” What is “whistleblower protection?”

A whistleblower is an individual who reports a violation of state or federal law to the appropriate authorities. In many instances, the whistleblower is an employee who reports his or her employer’s legal violation(s) to the appropriate authorities. For example, an employee may realize that his employer is illegally dumping toxic materials in violation of the Environmental Protection Act. If the employee reports such a violation to the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal administrative agency responsible for policing the provisions of the Environment Protection Act, the employee is a whistleblower.

2. As the article indicates, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ordered Wells Fargo to pay the whistleblower $5.4 million in restitution. In your reasoned opinion, is this award appropriate, or is it excessive? Explain your response.

This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. Restitution is defined as “recompense for injury or loss.” Comparable words include compensation, reparation, reimbursement, repayment, and remuneration. As the article indicates, the amount of the restitution order would reflect not only lost salary, but also other costs caused by unemployment, such as lost health benefits, having to dip into retirement savings, attorney’ fees or emotional damages. OSHA (or a trial jury, if called upon to resolve the matter) has a great deal of flexibility in deciding what amount of money would reasonably approximate the whistleblower’s emotional distress—admittedly, this would be the most controversial component of the award.

3. Explain the “reinstatement” remedy of a wrongful termination action. In your reasoned opinion, is it advisable for a regulatory authority like OSHA or a court to order reinstatement? Why or why not?

The “reinstatement” remedy orders the employer to allow the employee to resume work at his or her previous position. In terms of whether it is advisable for a regulatory authority like OSHA or a court to order reinstatement, reasonable minds might differ, particularly since reinstatement creates an awkward reality—the employee is essentially returning to the “belly of the beast.” Despite the awkward nature of the situation, however, the employee is allowed to request his or her old job back, and if so ordered by the court, the employer must, in good faith, allow the employee to return to work at the same position.