15 Feb February 2017 HL Quarterly Update
After the Presidency of Democrat Barack Obama, we now have a Republican President, Donald Trump, who will inherit a Republican majority in both houses of Congress. While it is impossible to predict exactly what the future has in store, there are some popular beliefs as to how certain governmental policies and departments may change in the coming years.
Any changes at the EEOC may in fact show up as inaction rather than action. While this body was very active during the Obama Administration, President Trump’s EEOC may conduct fewer self-initiated claims and investigations. Employers should remember, however, that state legislatures can still make and enforce employment regulations on their own initiative.
Department of Labor
President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andy Puzder, has a personal history of dealing with the Department of Labor, after his restaurant business was investigated for wage-and-hour violations a decade ago. Mr. Puzder has also voiced opposition to the current white-collar overtime regulations. Given Mr. Puzder’s apparent beliefs, it is possible the D.O.L. could change current rules or even enact new ones regarding independent contractor status, exempt status minimum salaries, how employers are affected by the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), and even the Federal minimum wage.
While an incoming President always has the chance to appoint judges to the Federal District and Circuit Courts, there is currently an empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The Obama Administration’s nominee, Merrick Garland, was never confirmed by the Senate and, after nine months of waiting, recently returned to his post at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This week, Neil Gorsuch was nominated to fill this vacancy, and will go through the Senate confirmation process.
National Labor Relations Board
The N.L.R.B. may see radical changes in the coming months. Though Democrats currently hold a 2-1 lead at the N.L.R.B., President Trump will be able to appoint two judges to fill open spots, giving Republicans a 3-2 lead. It is believed that these appointments will be made this year, and that once two new judges are in place, the N.L.R.B. could seize the opportunity to overturn pro-labor decisions made during President Obama’s tenure.
Federal Anti-Discrimination Rules
Despite other disagreements, it appears President Trump will enforce an Executive Order handed down by the previous administration. In 2014, President Obama issued an Executive Order which prohibited Federal contractors from discriminating against applicants and employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Earlier this week, the Trump Administration indicated they will continue to enforce this Executive Order, which also requires that Federal contractors indicate in their advertisements that they will not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Submitted by Jonathan Rea, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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