The road ahead for employers

Gavel to Gavel

published in The Journal Record | February 2, 2017

The road ahead

By Charlie Plumb

Just two weeks into the new administration, and we’re starting to get a sense of what changes may be looming for employers.

At the forefront are President Trump’s picks to lead the nation’s federal employment agencies. In fact, the White House has already frozen all pending regulations until they are reviewed by the new leaders. Further, any finalized regulations that have not yet gone into effect will face the same review process. Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor opposes minimum-wage increases and well as the expansion of overtime payments to white-collar employees and is a strong proponent of immigration. Meanwhile, over at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and National Labor Relations Board, expect those agencies to switch to a Republican majority soon.

Now comes the dicey part: predicting what employers should expect.

The new overtime regulations are on hold and tied up in a court challenge. As presently written, those rules are dead, but don’t be surprised if another less drastic version is proposed.

Expect paid leave to be part of the discussion, including a revisiting of Trump’s campaign proposal of six weeks of paid leave for new mothers.

A change in leadership and priorities does not change existing court rulings or our society’s views on unacceptable conduct. Expect harassment, disability and age discrimination investigations and lawsuits to retain their vitality. Retaliation lawsuits against employers are favorites of plaintiffs’ attorneys and dangerous in the hands of a jury. That will not change.

There are mixed signals on the direction the Trump administration will take on LGBT issues – no prediction, here.

Pay equity was an emphasis late in the Obama administration. This included a new rule effective March 31, 2018, that employers with 100 or more employees will be required to include specific compensation data as part of their EEO-1 reports. Expect this requirement to be rolled back.

From a practical sense, how agencies operate is as important to employers as what new regulations are implemented or killed. Will their budgets increase or decrease? Will they adopt an aggressive investigation protocol? Will agency decisions be delegated to regional offices in our area, or will Washington call the shots?

Being proactive is the way to go for any employer. We are following the changing face of the laws, as well as the approaches adopted by employment agencies, and will keep you up-to-speed.

This article appeared in the February 2, 2017, issue of The Journal Record. It is reproduced with permission from the publisher. © The Journal Record Publishing Co.