City Brew Controversy Points The Way For Labor Rights

City Brew on Brooks St has been embroiled in a labor rights argument that has stretched now for weeks. According to the Montana Kaiman, the firing of a barista following their attempt to secure a safer working environment has given oxygen to the simmering debate over employment rights taking place across Missoula and the surrounding counties. An indicator of the balance of rights between employer and employee, this case has exposed the ongoing struggle at the heart of Montana employment law and created an interesting backdrop for the next few months.

The state of play

Montana remains a generally fair place to work. Minimum wage is above the federal mandated level, and according to Oxfam’s Best States to Work index, The Treasure State is firmly middle-of-the-road when it comes to overall fairness. Part of this picture is the resilience of the litigation environment within the state. The Missoula Current highlight the importance of this, and are predicting greater levels of employment litigation in the coming months – particularly due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. The pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty, and this reflects in working patterns: employees of businesses across the state are being asked to work in more difficult conditions and are seeking legal help, whether that be from an overtime lawyer or a health and safety attorney.

Current issues

This rapidly changing state of workplace rights and regulations is causing issues between businesses and their staff. With the election ongoing, there is a lack of clear legal direction from the federal government, and with state senate in the air too, there is a vacuum in which legal issues are arising and seeking resolution. This is why the litigation environment in-state is so important, and why there has been such vociferous opposition in the City Brew case – with so much volatility, there are opportunities for people from each side of the divide to make a real impact with ongoing employment cases. Businesses and employees are stepping in where regulation has fallen flat.

An improving picture

This is good news for some. Businesses with a progressive viewpoint are being rewarded for giving leeway to employees, as exemplified by the rise of Missoula business Submittable. According to News Talk KGVO, their progressive attitude towards employment rights has seen them lauded and recognized by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry for their unified approach to business and workforce management in the state. Their software is one product that many are hoping can be used to replicate their success. What this shows is that Missoula and Montana residents do have a positive outlook towards their rights and how they can fight for them – hand-in-hand with employers.

To that end, there’s good news for Missoula and its working people. However, more needs to be done, and more structure from federal and state sources will do a lot of good once the elections have settled down. Until then, businesses and employees with open dialogue will show their strength in coming together to keep productivity and earnings on the rise.