Federal News & Analysis

  • Supreme Court may play critical role in future of LGBT rights

    With another new justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, all eyes are on how the Court will decide some of the pressing issues of our day, including LGBT rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Supreme Court watchers are keeping a close eye on a trio of cases involving the issue of whether Title VII's prohibition on sex discrimination applies to LGBT workers. The cases the Court may consider are R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC, fromAltitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, from the 2nd Circuit; and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, from the 11th Circuit.

  • Checking in on the status of EEOC nominees

    As the 115th Congress came to a close, it looked like the Senate might have reached a deal to confirm nominees for positions at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). However, as the deal to avoid a government shutdown collapsed, it was announced that Daniel Gade, a twice-wounded veteran nominated to serve as an EEOC commissioner, had withdrawn his name from consideration, ending the possibility of an end-of-session deal.

  • Year-end roundup on happenings at DOL, WHD

    Last year was significant for the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the subagency responsible for regulating and enforcing federal minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employee leave rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and other employment standards and worker protections. In this article, we take a walk down memory lane, reviewing some of the key wage and hour developments over the past year and looking ahead to 2019.

  • NLRB has fallen, and it can't get up

    In hindsight, we can appreciate the success of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Richard Griffin, its controversial General Counsel (GC) during the Obama administration. Through a series of targeted decisions and GC memoranda, the NLRB sought to aid union organizing and expand the requirements and limitations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the law that regulates labor-management issues, to cover nonunion workplaces.

  • Drones in the workplace? OSHA says maybe

    As if on-site inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) weren't worrisome enough, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a memorandum last May authorizing certain OSHA inspectors to use drones to collect evidence during some workplace inspections. However, before employers worry too much too soon, the memorandum issued on May 18 makes clear that OSHA is to "obtain express consent from the employer prior to using [the drone] on any inspection." Additionally, on-site personnel must be notified of the aerial inspection before the drone's launch.

  • What employers can expect from OFCCP for 2019

    In calendar year 2018, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) had two directors, issued nine directives, recovered $10 million less than it did in fiscal year (FY) 2017, and completed less than 1,000 audits. After nearly two years under the Trump administration, the agency finally began to make some of the changes federal contractors have been hoping to see since the end of the Obama administration.

  • Blue House, red Senate: impact of 2018 midterms for employers

    With just three races still waiting for official results several weeks after the November 6, 2018, midterm elections, it's clear that the Democrats rode a blue wave into controlling the U.S. House of Representatives by the largest margin since 2008. Democrats needed to flip 23 seats to take the House majority; so far, they have flipped 40 seats. As of December 3, the latest count is 234 Democrats and 198 Republicans. Of the three races not officially called, Republicans lead in two—New York’s 27th District and North Carolina’s 9th District—and a Democrat leads in California’s 21st District.

  • Chief data officer to bring EEOC's data analytics into 21st century

    Shortly after becoming acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Victoria Lipnic decided the agency needed to upgrade its ability to collect and manage data. Her first step was to hire Dr. Samuel Christopher (Chris) Haffer as the EEOC's first chief data officer and director of the Office of Research, Information and Planning, now the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics. Haffer is a 25-year veteran of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), where he led data analytics, research, research administration, measurement, performance improvement, and reporting initiatives. To learn more about the changes in the EEOC's data collection and data management, Federal Employment Law Insider interviewed Haffer.

  • Agency ‘guidances’ challenged by DOJ

    After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 1984 decision in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., regulations interpreting and refining statutes published by federal agencies after they went through the lengthy but required notice-and-comment period were to be given "deference" by the courts. Although the Chevron ruling itself is controversial, it has formed the bedrock of government functioning. For example, under Chevron, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can interpret the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can refine the Clean Water Act with reduced judicial oversight.

  • EEOC holds public meeting on workplace harassment prevention

    On October 31, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held an important public meeting, "Revamping Workplace Culture to Prevent Harassment," which focused on its efforts to address sexual harassment in the workplace. The meeting was an open discussion between the EEOC's leaders and various witnesses and experts in the field about steps employersand the community as a wholeshould take in the wake of the growing momentum of the #MeToo movement. The areas that were discussed, and offer the key points for employers' compliance efforts, include changing company culture, ensuring strong leadership and accountability, and implementing effective policies, procedures, and training.