The daily business briefing: May 16, 2018
Amazon extends Whole Foods discounts for Prime members, Uber stops forcing sexual assault survivors into arbitration, and more
Amazon extends Whole Foods discounts for Prime members
Amazon is launching a program in its Whole Foods supermarkets in Florida on Wednesday offering its Prime members 10 percent discounts on some sale items. The online retail giant plans to extend the program nationwide this summer. Prime members will have to put the Whole Foods app on their smartphones and enter their Amazon login to generate a code for Whole Foods cashiers to scan. The discounts mark a major new step toward integrating Amazon and Whole Foods by getting online Prime customers into brick-and-mortar stores. "They're probably trying to influence those people," said Bob Hetu, a retail industry analyst with Gartner, "but the question is, is 10 percent enough to do that?"
Uber to stop forcing sexual assault survivors into silent arbitration
Uber announced Tuesday that it would let passengers and drivers file sexual assault and harassment allegations in courts and mediation, instead of requiring them to go into arbitration. Rival Lyft announced a similar change. Uber's move marks the latest in a series of steps the ride-hailing service has made in response to reports of bad behavior within the company. The San Francisco-based company also is dropping a policy requiring confidentiality regarding all sexual misconduct settlements. The company's CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, was hired in August to restore the company's reputation after a barrage of negative publicity over allegations of widespread sexual harassment, a data breach coverup, and stolen trade secrets, and he has promised to "do the right thing" and get the company back on track.
Stocks struggle as new North Korea concerns surface
U.S. stock futures struggled for footing early Wednesday as North Korea's threat to cancel a planned summit between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and President Trump raised concerns about geopolitical conflict. Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures fell, but by less than 0.1 percent, and Nasdaq-100 futures were flat. On Tuesday, all three of the main U.S. indexes closed down by 0.7 percent to 0.8 percent, snapping an eight-day winning streak for the Dow. Weaker-than-expected economic growth in Japan, the world's third largest economy, dragged down markets in Asia. Japan's economy contracted by 0.6 percent in the first quarter.
Novartis lawyer quits after uproar over Trump attorney contract
Novartis' top lawyer, Felix Ehrat, announced Wednesday that he is resigning from the Swiss drugmaker over a $1.2 million contract he co-signed with President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Novartis agreed in early 2017 to pay Cohen's Essential Consultants, the same firm that paid porn star Stormy Daniels to be silent about her alleged affair with Trump, $100,000 per month for insights into the Trump administration's approach to health policy. The company ended the contract this year. "Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error," Ehrat, 60, said. "As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end." Days earlier, an AT&T executive left over his company's deal with Cohen.
Fox settles nearly 20 workplace discrimination claims
21st Century Fox has settled racial and gender discrimination lawsuits involving 18 current and former employees for about $10 million, The New York Times reports. Cases settled include a class action racial discrimination lawsuit that Fox News anchor Kelly Wright and employees in the accounting department filed in 2017, as well as a race, gender, and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed in 2016 by a former reporter at the Fox 5 affiliate in New York and a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a Fox News Radio reporter in 2017. Under the settlement, the employees must drop their claims, leave the network if they haven't already done so, and never again attempt to seek employment at Fox News or any other 21st Century Fox companies.