Business News at a Glance

Posted November 9, 2018 9:46 p.m. EST

Facebook to Drop Forced Arbitration in Harassment Cases

Facebook said Friday that it would no longer force employees to settle sexual harassment claims in private arbitration, the latest technology company to do away with a practice that critics say stacks the deck against victims of harassment. Facebook acted one day after Google announced similar plans. The technology industry has gone to considerable lengths in recent years to keep workforce disputes out of the court system. Chris Baker, an employment lawyer, said the moves by the tech firms could chip away at arbitration in all kinds of employee disputes because it would be hard for companies to draw the line at sexual harassment.

FDA Plans to Seek a Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration plans to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes next week as part of its aggressive campaign against flavored e-cigarettes and some tobacco products, agency officials said. The proposal would have to go through the FDA regulatory maze, and it could be several years before such a restriction took effect, especially if the major tobacco companies contest the agency’s authority to do so. Canada has already imposed a ban on menthol cigarettes, and the European Union’s ban is set to go into effect in 2020. Earlier this year, San Francisco passed a prohibition against the sales of menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes.

Philippines Says It Will Charge Veteran Journalist Critical of Duterte

The Philippine government said Friday that it would charge a veteran journalist and her online news startup with tax evasion, a move the publication described as an attack against the country’s media by President Rodrigo Duterte's government. The Justice Department said it had grounds to indict the startup, Rappler, and its founder, Maria Ressa, for tax evasion and failure to file tax returns. Rappler denied the charges, calling the case a “clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment,” and accused the government of trying to silence critical coverage. The penalties for tax evasion include a monetary fine as well as up to 10 years of imprisonment.

Trump Threatens to Retaliate Against Reporters Who Don’t Show ‘Respect’

President Donald Trump said Friday that he might revoke the credentials of additional White House reporters if they do not “treat the White House with respect,” lobbing another threat at the news media two days after his administration effectively blacklisted CNN correspondent Jim Acosta. Asked how long Acosta’s pass would be suspended, Trump replied, “As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t made that decision. But it could be others also.” The removal of Acosta’s credential, after a tense news conference Wednesday when the CNN correspondent aggressively questioned Trump, has raised alarms among press freedom groups who say the president is encroaching on journalists’ right to cover the government.

The Economy Didn’t Save Republicans After All

Unemployment is abnormally low. Growth has sped up. A $1.5 trillion tax cut is fueling consumer spending. Faced with strong Democratic enthusiasm and hindered by an unpopular president, Republicans were counting on that economic strength to lift them at the polls. It didn’t. Republicans lost in districts with low unemployment, in districts that have gained manufacturing jobs, in districts that got big tax cuts. And they lost overwhelmingly in the kind of affluent, educated suburbs that have experienced the strongest overall recovery. All told, there was no apparent relationship between Republicans candidates’ performance in Tuesday’s House races and the strength of the economy in those districts.

Fortune Magazine Sold to Thai Businessman for $150 Million

Fortune magazine, a founding brand of the Time Inc. empire that started publishing right after the stock market crash of 1929 and went on to chronicle the rise and fall of the biggest U.S. companies, has been sold to a Thai businessman for $150 million. Chatchaval Jiaravanon, whose family controls Charoen Pokphand, one of Thailand’s largest companies, will acquire Fortune as a personal investment, according to a statement from the magazine’s current owner, Meredith Corp. He intends to increase investment in Fortune’s digital capabilities, geographic expansion and editorial talent, the statement said.

A Tale of Two Washingtons Awaits Wall Street Banks

Big banks are about to experience a tale of two Washingtons. On Friday, a top Federal Reserve official said regulators were preparing to soften some rules imposed on the biggest banks after the financial crisis, including making it easier for them to pass annual tests that gauge their ability to withstand a severe economic downturn. Yet House Democrats are preparing to step up scrutiny of big banks when they assume power next year, in hopes of slowing the turn toward deregulation initiated during President Donald Trump’s first two years in office.