Uncertainty Permeates Labor & Employment Landscape, According to Bloomberg Law’s 2018 Outlook

ARLINGTON, VA (January 18, 2018) — Bloomberg Law today issued its 2018 Labor & Employment Outlook, which explores the issues and policies that could impact workplaces nationwide this year.  These topics will dominate the agenda at the Department of Labor, federal regulatory agencies, the Supreme Court, and within Congress.

“The Trump Administration has taken its time appointing leaders at the Labor Department, and the uncertainty is of concern to members of both political parties and to attorneys representing companies, workers, and unions,” said Karen Ertel, Bloomberg Law’s News Director for Labor, Employment, Benefits, & Human Resources.  “A new National Labor Relations Board has already begun reversing Obama-era decisions, and other rollbacks of the previous administration’s policies are likely to continue at federal agencies that regulate labor and employment issues.  To advise their clients in the face of ongoing changes, attorneys turn to Bloomberg Law for timely, in-depth news, analysis, and industry intelligence.”

Highlights of the Outlook include:

Department of Labor:  Beyond a commitment to apprenticeships and reconsidering Obama-era regulations, the agency begins the second year of Trump’s White House without much of a policy identity. The Labor Department is still trying to undo or revise a series of worker-friendly rules finalized at the end of the Obama administration, including moves to extend overtime pay to more workers and to protect retirement savers from conflicted advice.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): President Donald Trump’s appointees will control the NLRB in 2018, and observers expect major changes in the agency’s philosophy and direction. The board’s new general counsel has signaled an intent to review and reverse many of the rulings issued during the Obama administration, which employers and business groups criticized as excessively pro-union or pro-worker. And the NLRB’s new Republican majority is likely to take on a major overhaul of board law.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): The EEOC heads into the year poised for a potentially dramatic shift in priorities. The commission is slated to have a Republican majority for the first time in nine years, which may lead the EEOC to back away from its view that Title VII covers sexual orientation and gender identity.

Congress:  Republicans, who control both chambers, are expected to continue moving an agenda to lessen what they see as job-crushing regulations on businesses. Hearings will also likely continue on both health care and stamping out workplace sexual harassment, including on the Hill.  Given the approach of midterm elections, lawmakers could act with a sense of urgency to coordinate discussions about apprenticeships, infrastructure, adapting labor laws to the gig economy, and paid leave.

Immigration: Policy this year is likely to be dominated by increased scrutiny of visa applications, greater enforcement, and a rollback of Obama administration regulations, programs, and guidance. Agencies involved in the immigration process will remain focused on protecting U.S. workers, in line with President Trump’s priorities. That focus includes implementing the president’s Buy American and Hire American executive order.  The only immigration legislation passed this year could be a measure to provide legal status to “dreamers,” young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Supreme Court: The financial future of public sector unions and the fate of class action waivers in arbitration agreements are the two big-ticket labor and employment issues the U.S. Supreme Court will decide before the end of the current term. The justices will also determine which employees qualify as financial whistle-blowers, whether car dealership service advisers are entitled to federal overtime pay, and the time frame in which employees can file state law claims in state court after losing federal claims.

A Webinar focusing on hot topics in labor and employment and the future of work is being held on Wednesday, January 24 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Attendees will gain insights into the administration’s policies regarding key labor and employment issues, possible changes to the way courts and regulators considers joint employment, and potential judicial, legislative, and regulatory responses to changes in the way people work brought on by the gig economy.

Panelists include:

  • Sharon Block, Former National Labor Relations Board Member
  • Richard F. Griffin, Jr., Former General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board, Of Counsel, Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC
  • Alexander J. Passantino, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw
  • Chris Opfer, Managing Editor, Bloomberg Law (moderator)

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