Like it or not, Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. Now that the initial shock has worn off, it’s time to evaluate how federal employment laws, regulations, and enforcement may shift under the Trump Administration.
While President Trump has not spoken at length regarding employment law since taking office, his pro-business philosophy and nomination of Andrew F. Puzder, a former restaurant executive, for Secretary of Labor (Puzder later withdrew his name from consideration) suggests that the Trump Administration will be significantly more employer-friendly than the Obama Administration
The Trump Administration is expected to roll back federal protections for workers and implement policies that favor businesses. So far, President Trump’s forays into the employment arena have had mixed results:
- Affordable Care Act: It is well known that President Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2017 failed, although the Administration may pursue further efforts to supplant the ACA, which could profoundly impact employers and employees.
- Blacklisting Rule: On March 27, 2017, President Trump repealed a rule requiring federal contractors to disclose workplace violations when bidding on certain government contracts.
Moving forward, watch for the following possible changes to employment law under the Trump Administration:
- Wage and Hour Regulations: One of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) signature achievements under the Obama Administration was overhauling the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to roughly double the minimum salary required for an employee to qualify for an exemption to the FLSA’s overtime requirement (from $23,600/year to $47,476/year). These regulations were set to go into effect on December 1, 2016, but on November 22, 2016, a federal court blocked the implementation of the changes. The DOL under the Obama Administration appealed the ruling, but the Trump DOL is likely to either withdraw the appeal or change the regulations, which would leave in effect the overtime regulations last revised in 2004.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Enforcement Priorities: On January 25, 2017, President Trump appointed EEOC Commissioner Victoria A. Lipnic, who previously voted against the EEOC’s determination that sexual orientation is a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, to serve as acting chair. Under the previous chair, the EEOC focused on disability discrimination, gender identity/sexual orientation discrimination, and pay equity. It is likely that the EEOC’s focus will shift away from the latter two priorities under the Trump Administration. In addition, the EEOC under Trump may reverse or modify changes to the Employer Information Report (EEO-1) that require employers to report pay data for all employees by gender, race, and ethnicity starting in 2018.
- National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): On January 26, 2017, President Trump appointed the lone Republic member of the NLRB to serve as its chairman, and Trump will have an opportunity to shape the NLRB by appointing two new members to the five-person Board. This will likely result in a more employer-friendly NLRB and may result in a reversal of the NLRB’s Browning-Ferris ruling, which broadened the joint employer standard.
- Paid Family Leave and Affordable Child Care: Without providing details, President Trump has pledged to provide paid family leave and affordable child care to American workers, which is significantly more employee-friendly than his other employment policies.
Stay tuned for further updates on the Trump Administration’s impact on employment law.