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Yuki Noguchi

Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Business Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington D.C. Since joining NPR in 2008, she's covered business and economic news, and has a special interest in workplace issues — everything from abusive working environments, to the idiosyncratic cubicle culture. In recent years she has covered the housing market meltdown, unemployment during the Great Recession, and covered the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan in 2011. As in her personal life, however, her coverage interests are wide-ranging, and have included things like entomophagy and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Prior to joining NPR, Yuki started her career as a reporter for The Washington Post. She reported on stories mostly about business and technology, and later became an editor.

Yuki grew up with a younger brother speaking her parents' native Japanese at home. She has a degree in history from Yale.

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Michael Lopreste imagines it would be easier if he had the sort of job that allowed him to simply walk away from a co-worker's political diatribe. But as sales manager of a high-end furniture chain, he often can't afford to.

"Being in sales, we're kind of this captive audience," Lopreste says. "You know, you want to make the client feel at ease, you want to make them feel important, you want to be able to have a good rapport with them. And a lot of times that manifests itself by being able to mirror back what they're saying, or perfecting the nod and smile."

A few years ago, a man came to pastor Wes Helm at Springcreek Church in Garland, Texas, and opened up about his financial troubles. Helm looked through the man's budget and noticed one major monthly expense: a payday loan fee three times more than the amount of the loan itself.

The blood-testing company Theranos — until recently a Silicon Valley darling — lost its largest revenue source after Walgreens terminated the companies' relationship late Sunday. Walgreens cited problems federal regulators have had with Theranos' lab testing and potential sanctions over problems found at its labs.

Walgreens' withdrawal is another step in a rapid fall from grace for Theranos — and ends a partnership that was the cornerstone of its early success.

A handful of companies are offering parental benefits that go way beyond just paid leave, to include things like surrogacy reimbursement, egg freezing or breast milk shipping for traveling mothers.

As competition for talent heats up, companies see it as a relatively cheap way to recruit, retain and motivate their employee base.

Many of the department stores that once anchored bustling shopping malls continue to close. Macy's will shutter 36 additional stores this year; 78 Kmart and Sears locations will also close. What to do with that vast, vacant space?

There is no traffic, and no problem finding parking at Owings Mills Mall in Maryland. The 5,000 or so parking spaces are all vacant. A J.C. Penney closed last month and a Macy's closed last year.

When it opened in 1986, it was anchored by a Saks Fifth Avenue and catered to well-to-do Baltimore suburbanites.

As the population of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder keeps growing, so does the number of people with that diagnosis who aren't finding employment.

Though many young adults on the spectrum are considered high functioning, recent research shows 40 percent don't find work — a higher jobless rate than people with other developmental disabilities experience.

It's been a good week for employees of Chobani. They learned that they could eventually own about 10 percent of the rapidly expanding Greek yogurt company. That could potentially make millionaires of some workers, if the privately held company is sold or goes public.

It's a grand gesture, and reflects a rising trend in employee ownership.

Hey! Wake up! Need another cup of coffee?

Join the club. Apparently about a third of Americans are sleep-deprived. And their employers are probably paying for it, in the form of mistakes, productivity loss, accidents and increased health insurance costs.

In coming weeks, the White House is expected to finalize key new rules on overtime pay that could benefit an estimated 6 million lower-paid salaried workers. Workers' advocates say it's a long-awaited change. Most employer groups vocally oppose the new rules, because they might have to raise their minimum salaries, pay overtime — or limit their workers' hours.

Much of the debate has pitted workers against employers.

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Graduate students at private universities are asking regulators to consider these questions: Are we employees, or not? Can we join a union?

The National Labor Relations Board recently decided to review its previous position, reigniting debate within the ivory tower.

For Paul Katz, who's three years into a history Ph.D. program at Columbia University, the 15 to 20 hours a week he spends teaching university undergraduates should mean he's an employee. He teaches in addition to conducting his own research.

The TV and a cellphone are playing videos, as Trevor Franklin tries to quiet a brood of kids in the living room of the apartment he shares with his fiancée in southeast Washington, D.C.

"TJ is mine, and Malik and Morgan are my stepkids," Franklin says. A 14-year-old stepdaughter is on her way home from school, and his pregnant fiancée is on bed rest with a fifth child.

Most people have a colleague or two who don't seem to do much work at work. They're in the break room watching March Madness, or they disappear for a two-hour coffee break.

For Allison Lamb, that person is her cubicle mate. Lamb is a statistical clerk for a company in Fishers, Ind., who says she likes her job and has a good work ethic. So it irritates her to see her cubicle mate ignoring her duties, disappearing with her friends and keeping her nose in her cellphone all day talking, texting and gaming.

It seems to Lamb that her colleague flaunts her do-nothing attitude.

The Civil Rights Act bans sex discrimination, but does it cover sexual orientation?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it does — and it wants this position validated by federal courts. This month, the EEOC filed its first-ever lawsuits charging employers with discrimination against gay and lesbian employees.

What does it mean to "dress for success"? Certainly not what it meant when a book by that name first came out in 1975.

Now, what to wear to work is a murky area that includes a new clothing trend known as "athleisure" — workout wear that might also work for the office.

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When Samuel Smith graduated with a master's in engineering from Cornell, he thought the $190,000 in debt he incurred would pay off. But it took him a while to land job at a software firm in Austin, Texas. And now, after paying $1,750 a month in loan payments, rent and food, he says he doesn't have much left over.

He doesn't own a TV and says "it'd be nice to go out for drinks once in a while."

In a relatively rare victory for abused workers, Vail Run Resort in Colorado recently agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle a sexual harassment case. The case was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of members of the hotel's housekeeping employees.

The company failed to address attempted rapes of its housekeeping staff. As part of the settlement, the company will have a monitor for five years and will be required to do extensive sexual-harassment training of its managers.

A string of attacks on cities, schools and workplaces has prompted many employers to turn to a new area of security for their employees: active-shooter training.

Until about a decade ago, workplace security focused mostly on preventing theft. Now, businesses are trying to give their employees guidelines on how to escape or handle armed intruders.

Last November, Amazon did the unthinkable for an online retailer known for undercutting brick-and-mortar bookstores: It opened a walk-in store in Seattle. Now, there's talk that Amazon plans hundreds of them.

On an investor call Tuesday, Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of mall operator General Growth Properties, said: "You've got Amazon opening bricks and mortar bookstores, and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores."

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There are some signs that the long-running turnaround effort at McDonald's may be working. The company announced today that it beat fourth-quarter profit estimates and that sales increased both at home and abroad. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

Three decades ago, the treatment Michele Zumwalt received for severe headaches involved a shot of the opioid Demerol. Very quickly, Zumwalt says, she would get headaches if she didn't get her shot. Then she began having seizures, and her doctor considered stopping the medication.

"I didn't know I was addicted, but I just knew that it was like you were going to ask me to live in a world without oxygen," she says. "It was that scary."

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Paid family leave is something that's not widely available to most American workers, though, this year, that started to change. NPR's Yuki Noguchi has more.

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