November 21, 2017, 01:00:08 PM

Author Topic: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit  (Read 2362 times)

ahsanford

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B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« on: August 16, 2017, 11:34:45 AM »
FYI:  https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/ofccp/ofccp20170814

This was a thorny one.  At face value from some of the original reporting before the lawsuit dropped, the allegations were shocking / jaw-dropping.   However, the allegations that led to the DoL suit were conspicuously timed to line up with an organized campaign to unionize the warehouse workers.  So there appeared to be two very different sides to this.
 
Any legal folks care to comment on this?  Is this just a straightforward settlement to get the suit dropped?  $3M+ is not chump change at all, but is this more or less onerous than similar settlements in the past?  Are these concessions a slap on the the wrist or a major blow to how B&H does business?  Is the type of settlement (consent decree vs. deferred prosecution dependent on conduct, etc.) indicative of how close this came to being worse, taken to court, etc.?

Under the cloud of uncertainty while this was happening, I had withheld my modest enthusiast business from B&H while this suit was pending.  Now that's its settled, I have to ask myself if I want to resume business with a company with terrific customer service but this hanging on its record. 

Curious to hear people's thoughts on this.

- A

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B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« on: August 16, 2017, 11:34:45 AM »

Lurker

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2017, 12:48:01 PM »
They stood accused,  had an appropriate evaluation under the law, received sentence and agreed to corrective action.  This is what our society has deemed appropriate for the misdeeds.  I don't think further punishment is needed.

I would question: If it is appropriate to withhold business due to the past misdeeds would not the appropriate course of action, under the lawsuit, have been for the DoL to shutter the business?  Is this not what will happen if the majority of customers take their business elsewhere?  Actually probably not even a majority would be needed.  If not that many people take their business elsewhere and the business continues then it would seem to be an extreme view to withhold business.

Of course everyone has the right to do what they will.

I personally don't do that much business with B&H for no other reason than their website is usually not taking orders when I have time to do my shopping.
 

YuengLinger

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2017, 01:32:47 PM »
Note that the money paid was back pay, not a fine.  The company agreed to better training of managers to prevent such issues.

If both sides are satisfied, some real soul searching might be in order if you still hold a grudge.

scottburgess

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 02:16:54 PM »
Are these concessions a slap on the the wrist or a major blow to how B&H does business? 

It would seem a substantial penalty, though probably not life-threatening to the business.  Hard to conclude anything more than that without a lot more information.

Under the cloud of uncertainty while this was happening, I had withheld my modest enthusiast business from B&H while this suit was pending.  Now that's its settled, I have to ask myself if I want to resume business with a company with terrific customer service but this hanging on its record. 

Curious to hear people's thoughts on this.

I did likewise for ethical considerations, and feel a similar ambivalence about reconnecting since switching to Adorama.  Personally, I will probably take a wait-and-see approach since they made promises the first time which they didn't fulfill and the company owners appear to be in denial about their behavior.

If not that many people take their business elsewhere and the business continues then it would seem to be an extreme view to withhold business.

I didn't take a moral stand based on what the crowd did, or whether it changed the behavior of other customers.  I did it to stick up for victims of racism.  They're the ones whose lives were damaged.  Most people are not even aware of the situation, and probably most who are wouldn't take any personal responsibility to change their behavior.  But even if they were and chose to continue working with B&H, I couldn't care less what they thought of me.  I'd happily be labeled "extreme" if it improved the lives of those workers.


ahsanford

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2017, 04:09:33 PM »
If not that many people take their business elsewhere and the business continues then it would seem to be an extreme view to withhold business.

I didn't take a moral stand based on what the crowd did, or whether it changed the behavior of other customers.  I did it to stick up for victims of racism.  They're the ones whose lives were damaged.  Most people are not even aware of the situation, and probably most who are wouldn't take any personal responsibility to change their behavior.  But even if they were and chose to continue working with B&H, I couldn't care less what they thought of me.  I'd happily be labeled "extreme" if it improved the lives of those workers.

Yep.  That's the wildcard here.  Some of the allegations could be filed under a standard union push, not being up to snuff with the latest regulations, etc. but some of the other other allegations were deeply troubling, specifically the racial/gender angle to things.

YL's post (see post above on this page) is correct -- the suit will not go forward b/c both parties agreed to these terms.  But the workers are not one of those two parties, were they?  I believe this decree was B&H and the DoL only.  Time will tell if the workers are actually treated better as a result of this.

As to Lurker's comments, I don't boycott a business because others pushed me to a tipping point -- I do it based on my conscience, because I believe it to be the right thing to do, etc.  We're empowered consumers and we have options, so I hardly consider myself an activist here so much as "There are other places I can get my camera gear than folks currently accused of X". 

Likely will give my future business back to B&H, but there may be a wait and see period.  Curious to hear if the workers are on-board with all of this.

Appreciate everyone's thoughts on this.

- A

ahsanford

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2017, 06:23:04 PM »

Petapixel picked up the story, but there's nothing new here -- no additional statements or follow-up:

https://petapixel.com/2017/08/16/bh-pay-3-22m-settle-lawsuit-filed-dept-labor/

- A

Rockskipper

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2017, 06:38:35 PM »
I haven't done business with them since this came out and won't resume, even though I'd spent close to 6k with them before. As afar as I'm concerned they're history for letting this go down in the first place, as it was a major snafu, not just a few minor events.

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2017, 06:38:35 PM »

Lurker

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2017, 06:50:58 PM »
Quote
Quote from: Lurker on Today at 12:48:01 PM

If not that many people take their business elsewhere and the business continues then it would seem to be an extreme view to withhold business.




I didn't take a moral stand based on what the crowd did, or whether it changed the behavior of other customers.  I did it to stick up for victims of racism.  They're the ones whose lives were damaged.  Most people are not even aware of the situation, and probably most who are wouldn't take any personal responsibility to change their behavior.  But even if they were and chose to continue working with B&H, I couldn't care less what they thought of me.  I'd happily be labeled "extreme" if it improved the lives of those workers.

Being extreme only means that something is a minority, it does not mean wrong, right, moral or immoral, just in a minority.  Everyone owns there own ethics whether they think about it or not so everyone should follow theirs.  To me it's more important that people think about their ethics, understand their motivations and take responsibility for the results of their ethics.

My question would be, Does "the moral stand" in fact endanger the workers?  If enough people take "the moral stand" and B&H goes out of business or downsizes that doesn't seem good for the workers, B&H owners, photographers or the city or state of New York.

As a member of society we agree to live by certain rules and if we don't we are punished.  The judgment and punishment are usually assigned by the ruling government with an eye on fairness to all parties involved.  In this case that government has determined this is an appropriate response to the actions of B&H and is fair to all parties involved.  It could be argued that if someone thinks the DoL did not go far enough, and that B&H needs to be punished further, their beef is actually with the government/DoL and not B&H.  B&H simply accepted the punishment offered/negotiated with the DoL. That punishment/settlement would have been based on legal precedent

This is all really a debate on the role of government and individuals within a society.  I personally would 100% support a boycott of B&H if the government did not take action.  The government did take action so I'm willing to substitute their judgment for my own.

As for the workers I'm sure they can opt out of this settlement and pursue their own civil action if they want.  It probably wouldn't pay for them to do so.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2017, 06:57:44 PM »
The back pay was chump change to B&H, and probably cost far less than legal fees for a protracted lawsuit.  I'm sure that both sides are saying they are unhappy, but that's the nature of compromises.

scottburgess

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2017, 03:05:55 AM »
Being extreme only means that something is a minority, it does not mean wrong, right, moral or immoral, just in a minority. 
No, extreme connotates having a view that is furthest from the central view, while minority simply implies that more people believe other things.  They are very different.  And as I already pointed out, a lack of awareness is a better explanation of few people withholding business from B&H than that they are extremists.

In effect you are now arguing your comment about extremism is irrelevant to the OP's question, and to the argument for nonaction it sat in the middle of.  So why did you include it there, and phrase it to insult the opposing viewpoint as out of step?

My question would be, Does "the moral stand" in fact endanger the workers?  If enough people take "the moral stand" and B&H goes out of business or downsizes that doesn't seem good for the workers, B&H owners, photographers or the city or state of New York.

This is a slippery slope fallacy.  B&H might notice some small losses, but a multinational business isn't going to shut down overnight from a few customers leaving.  It is more probable that they wouldn't notice any losses than they would lay off twenty workers.  This isn't a mom-and-pop store with five customers, four of whom just declared they were leaving.

If you're not clear about the point, compare this equally bad argument: If we don't withhold business from B&H, they might increase their abuse of workers.  Other companies will see they have a business advantage and do likewise.  Racism will run rampant.  Within a few years, we will have to fight the Civil War all over again.

As a member of society we agree to live by certain rules and if we don't we are punished.  The judgment and punishment are usually assigned by the ruling government with an eye on fairness to all parties involved.  In this case that government has determined this is an appropriate response to the actions of B&H and is fair to all parties involved.  It could be argued that if someone thinks the DoL did not go far enough, and that B&H needs to be punished further, their beef is actually with the government/DoL and not B&H.  B&H simply accepted the punishment offered/negotiated with the DoL. That punishment/settlement would have been based on legal precedent

This is all really a debate on the role of government and individuals within a society.  I personally would 100% support a boycott of B&H if the government did not take action.  The government did take action so I'm willing to substitute their judgment for my own.

As for the workers I'm sure they can opt out of this settlement and pursue their own civil action if they want.  It probably wouldn't pay for them to do so.
Ethical and legal matters are orthogonal concerns; you appear to be conflating them.  As B&H is demonstrating, it is perfectly legal to be an asshole, especially if you can afford bottomless legal representation and your workers can't.  I don't support assholes screwing people, particularly on racial grounds.

The DoL settlement is for violation of stated contract terms.  This is emphatically not a punishment for B&H mistreating workers as it is a civil contract dispute, not criminal proceeding.  There is no "opting out" for workers as they are not involved.  Assholes sometimes get a slap on the wrist for messing with Big Daddy, but that doesn't keep them from continuing to screw Lil' Pip.

The settlement may mean nothing for the workers.  B&H already reached a settlement previously with them, then egregiously violated that settlement.  I am sure the workers will continue pressing with their own case.  Assholes tend to continue being assholes if they can get away with it...  unless the community pushes back.

« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 03:24:47 AM by scottburgess »

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Re: B&H resolves the Dept. of Labor lawsuit
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2017, 03:05:55 AM »