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 November 16, 2016, Judge Amos L. Mazzant, heard more than three hours of oral argument from a group of 21 States (“State Plaintiffs”) challenging the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule. Following the hearing, the motion for a preliminary injunction of the rule was taken under advisement and a ruling is forthcoming on Tuesday, November 22,2016. Judge Mazzant’s pointed criticism of the rule during argument suggests employers may have reason to be optimistic.
Continue Reading Federal Judge in Texas Appears Poised to Grant Injunction Putting Labor Department’s Overtime Rule On Hold
Yesterday, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction temporarily preventing the DOL from implementing and enforcing its recent Persuader Rule pertaining to outside consultants’ (including lawyers) reporting obligations in the labor relations context. You can see our prior blogs on this topic here. The controversial rule was slated to apply to agreements or arrangements and payments made after July 1, 2016, but now is in limbo. We will keep you posted as new developments occur. A copy of the Court’s order can be found here.
In prior posts, we reported on the U.S. Department of Labor’s attempt to narrow the “advice exception” to the reporting requirements under Section 203 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Most recently, the DOL had indicated its intent to issue a final rule in March of 2014 that would narrow the well-known “advice exception” to the reporting requirement to require reporting of any consulting relationships where the consultant engages in actions or communications that would indirectly or directly persuade employees regarding organizing. Since it was first proposed in 2011, the anticipated final rule has drawn criticism from employers and the attorneys who provide valuable legal advice to employers in the context of union organizing. If adopted, the rule would have a significant impact on employers because they would no longer be able to avoid reporting third-party consulting arrangements by isolating consultants from direct employee interaction. The rule could also interfere with an employer’s ability to obtain legal advice from their attorneys due to the concern that both the employer and the attorneys may incur reporting obligations as well.
The Obama Administration has addressed labor and employment issues aggressively over the past two years. The Department of Labor, under President Obama’s direction, has articulated its “Plan/Prevent/Protect” agenda and its focus on openness and transparency in labor practices. As a result of the steps taken by the Obama Administration in 2010, the new Republican-dominated Congress may have to decide a number of regulatory and legislative measures that will directly affect labor and employment law in 2011. The following is a list of proposed regulations and legislation that employers and their attorneys should watch this year:
The Department of Labor has recently announced a regulatory initiative that would narrow the “advice exception” to the reporting requirements of section 203 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Section 203 requires employers to annually report via Form LM-10 any agreement or arrangement with a third-party consultant to persuade employees as to the collective bargaining rights, or to obtain certain information about the activities of employees or a labor organization involved in a labor dispute with the employer. The retained consultant must also file a report concerning the agreement or arrangement (Form LM-20). However, one of the statutory exceptions in section 203(c) provides that no report need be filed when the consultant gives “advice” to the employer.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced that it will propose new regulations that potentially could expand employers’ and labor consultants’ reporting obligations under Section 203(c) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). This may require employers to disclose some information that currently is not reportable, such as information related to advice from labor consultants and perhaps even attorneys.