Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, DC. Since joining NPR in 2008, she's covered a range of business and economic news, with a special focus on the workplace — anything that affects how and why we work. In recent years she has covered the rise of the contract workforce, the #MeToo movement, the Great Recession, and the subprime housing crisis. In 2011, she covered the earthquake and tsunami in her parents' native Japan. Her coverage of the impact of opioids on workers and their families won a 2019 Gracie Award. She also loves featuring offbeat topics, and has eaten insects in service of journalism.

Yuki started her career as a reporter, then an editor, for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology.

Yuki grew up in St. Louis, inflicts her cooking on her two boys, and has a degree in history from Yale.

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Editor's note: Since this story was first posted, we have received word that Destini Johnson is regaining consciousness and is out of intensive care.

Last August, Destini Johnson practically danced out of jail, after landing there for two months on drug charges. She bubbled with excitement about her new freedom and returning home to her parents in Muncie, Ind. She even talked about plans to find a job.

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Facebook responded to intensifying criticism over its mishandling of user data Wednesday by announcing new features to its site that will give users more visibility and control over how their information is shared. The changes, rolling out in coming weeks, will also enable users to prevent the social network from sharing that information with advertisers and other third parties.

Contract workers and freelancers have few legal rights, compared with those hired as employees. Under federal law, a contract worker lacks the right to sue for sexual harassment or gender discrimination, for example, because workplace civil rights laws do not apply.

Autumn Weese thinks she was fired last month, but she isn't entirely sure. Weese told her boss at an Arkansas coffee shop she needed to cut back her hours as she pursued her master's degree.

"The last email I got from her said that she ... 'totally understood the situation,' " Weese says. But then colleagues started telling her how sorry they were to hear she was leaving in two weeks. That was when Weese started suspecting she had been fired.

The turmoil for Facebook isn't letting up. The social media giant is facing more blowback from users, regulators and investors following reports that its user data was misused by Cambridge Analytica, a firm that worked for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

That has spurred a user boycott, as angry former Facebook users started turning to Twitter over the weekend to express their discontent. David Chartier, a freelance writer in Chicago, was one of them:

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Freelancers and contract workers make up the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce, and are expected to surpass half of all workers within a decade. But, under current employment law, these workers are ineligible for most of the rights and benefits of traditional employees.

Paid time off to care for a new child or a sick family member used to be a part of the Democratic Party platform. Now, Republicans are making paid family leave a legislative policy.

"Let's support working families by supporting paid family leave," President Trump urged Congress in his State of the Union address last month.

Since the mass killing at a Parkland, Fla., high school earlier this month, many teachers have called on their state pension funds to sell their stakes in gun-makers. Private investment firms including BlackRock and Blackstone are reviewing their firearms investments in response to clients' demands.

But even those sympathetic to their position say divesting from those companies doesn't lead to industry change.

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When Congress passed a sweeping tax overhaul last December, it lowered the corporate tax rate, and dozens of companies promised to share the good fortune with employees by offering raises or bonuses.

The Walt Disney Co. was among them, having logged a one-time windfall of $1.6 billion during its latest quarter, largely because of tax cuts. It announced to its workers in January that nonmanagement employees — about 125,000 workers in all — would receive a $1,000 bonus.

The campaign to speak out against workplace sexual harassment began with women in Hollywood and in the media — those in positions of relative power and privilege.

Now, women in retail, agriculture and domestic work — where harassment rates run very high — say they, too, are starting to feel the impact of the #MeToo movement.

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If you have a full-time job, and you get hurt at work, you are covered by workers' compensation insurance. You can get medical care, and get paid some of your salary while you recover from your injury.

But if you're a contractor — you're freelancer, working in the gig economy, and you get hurt on the job — you are out of luck.

A lot of the social safety net in this country works this way: it's built around full-time employees. But more and more people are working not as full-time employees, but as contractors.

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.

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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 long and growing list of high-profile men losing their jobs amid sexual-harassment allegations speaks to a big cultural sea change. But is that shift driven by generational differences in how sexual harassment is viewed, or by bigger changes in the workplace?

Seattle executive consultant Kim Arellano has taught classes on generational differences, and says sexual harassment makes for the liveliest discussions.

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.

As more alleged victims of sexual harassment have come forward in recent weeks, it's clear that they've found strength in numbers.

But workers' rights advocates fear that cases before the Supreme Court could end up limiting employees' abilities to bring collective action on harassment and other issues in the workplace.

The experience of reporting sexual harassment has changed radically in a few weeks.

Widespread allegations of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct touched off a torrent of other public allegations that are now toppling some powerful figures across many industries.

That list includes NPR's top editor, Michael Oreskes, who was fired last month amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Now, many victims find themselves holding a very loud microphone.

As more victims speak out about their allegations, employers — including NPR — are having to confront the failure of their sexual harassment training and reporting systems.

Even trainers themselves say the system has failed.

"We have been checking the box for decades," says Patricia Wise, an employment attorney who served on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision's task force on harassment. "I don't think people have been very motivated."

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.

Michael Silvers has worked at home and in corporate offices but prefers his small, rented glass-walled shared working space in downtown Washington, D.C.

"Every office that I've worked in, you're kind of down in your own little hole, and you don't really interact as much with other types of businesses," he says.

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