On June 12, 2017, the Office of Labor Management Standards of the Department of Labor (DOL) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to rescind the controversial “persuader rule” implemented by the DOL under the Obama administration. This rule sought to require disclosure of advice to employers from consultants and attorneys who engage in activities designed to persuade employees not to unionize. This announcement is on the heels of the DOL’s June 7, 2017, press release withdrawing two administrative interpretations issued by the DOL under the Obama administration concerning misclassification of independent contractors and joint employment, as discussed in a previous post. The recent flurry of activity by the DOL indicates that the Trump administration is following through with its promise to loosen many of the onerous restrictions placed on employers by the DOL in the Obama-era.
On May 21st, we reported on the newly-announced Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposal to narrow the “advice exception” to the reporting requirements of section 203 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”). In a nutshell, section 203 requires employers to annually report any arrangement with a third-party consultant to persuade employees as to their rights to organize and bargain collectively or to obtain certain information concerning the activities of employees or a labor organization involved in a labor dispute with the employer. The “advice exception” of section 203(c) provides that no annual report need be filed when a consultant gives “advice” to the employer. DOL’s current policy is to construe this exception broadly to exclude arrangements where the consultant has no direct contact with employees, but DOL now views this policy as overbroad and seeks to narrow it through rulemaking, as outlined in its Spring 2010 Regulatory Agenda.