Federal News & Analysis

  • Impact of #MeToo on mandatory arbitration, nondisclosure agreements

    Approximately 60 million Americans are subject to mandatory arbitration clauses, which employers often favor because arbitration tends to be more employer-friendly and less expensive than litigation, and less likely to attract attention from the media. Opponents claim that mandatory arbitration with an accompanying nondisclosure agreement unfairly protects wrongdoers by silencing victims and preventing them from taking their cases to court. In fact, many of the women who came forward as a result of #MeToo risked legal exposure because they had signed confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements after settling sexual harassment or assault claims.The use of nondisclosure agreements by alleged sexual predators has caused Congress and state legislatures to rethink employers' use of nondisclosure agreements, especially in cases of sexual harassment or assault.

  • Leave and the ADA: Is there a limit?

    There is perhaps no more difficult decision for an employer to make under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) than reaching the conclusion that a requested leave is unreasonable. In most instances, the decision arises in the context of a long leave that extends well beyond the limits of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

  • DOL revives 17 opinion letters that were withdrawn in 2009

    On January 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would reissue 17 opinion letters that were signed during the last days of George W. Bush's administration but subsequently withdrawn in March 2009 for "further consideration."

  • OSHA civil penalties on the rise again

    As of January 2, 2018, civil penalties for workplace safety and health violations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have increased again by 2% across the board. Although a 2% increase doesn't shock the system, it's part of a program that has resulted in OSHA's civil penalty authority nearly doubling since 2016.

  • GEO Group pays $550K to settle sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit

    The GEO Group, Inc., which operates Central Arizona Correctional Facility and Arizona State Prison-Florence West in Florence, Arizona, agreed on January 8, 2018, to pay $550,000 and furnish other relief pursuant to a consent decree settling claims of sexual harassment and retaliation filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD) of the Attorney General's Office.

  • Director Harris meets with contractors, contractor organizations, and civil rights groups

    The newly appointed director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), Ondray T. Harris, has scheduled meetings with three different stakeholder groups. Harris was set to meet with federal contractor representatives on January 30, 2018, while on January 31, he was scheduled to meet with civil rights groups in the morning and contractor organizations in the afternoon. Harris is expected to present his vision for the agency during the meetings and to hear stakeholders' big-picture ideas for the agency.

  • Trump taps John Ring to fill remaining NLRB vacancy

    In a statement released on January 12, 2018, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate John F. Ring to serve a five-year term on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Ring, a management attorney at Morgan Lewis & Bockius in Washington, D.C., would replace former NLRB Chairman Philip Miscimarra and join fellow Trump picks Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel to create a Republican majority on the five-member Board.

  • Tax reform bill includes some Obamacare-related items

    Complete repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fell apart in Congress months ago. But the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a tax reform bill that recently cleared Congress and was signed by the president on December 22, 2017, does include some provisions related to the ACA, health care, and other employer-sponsored health, welfare, and fringe benefits, albeit not the "big ticket" items sought by employers or related stakeholders, such as repeal of the employer mandate penalties.

  • Review of the Trump administration's first year overseeing employment law

    The past year has included many expected moves by the Trump administration, such as the reversal of some of the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) controversial decisions under the Obama administration, as well as several unexpected developments, such as the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program's (OFCCP) continued aggressiveness in audits and litigation.

  • Trump administration oversees sweeping changes at NLRB

    The Trump administration has been criticized in some quarters for giving little attention to labor and employment issues. That hasn't been the case at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). With unparalleled speed, new NLRB members have been confirmed, and a new General Counsel is in place. And the Republican leadership on the Board is already reversing cases decided under the Obama administration, announcing new policies, and starting on the path to rescinding regulations promulgated by the previous Board.