He’s not letting the grass grow under his feet.
NOTE FROM ROBIN: When President Trump took office in 2016, I had a series of “Trumpdates,” in which I provided regular updates on appointments and other actions he was taking that would be of interest to employers. I’m going to do the same thing as President Biden gets settled in.
President Joe Biden was sworn in only a day and a half ago, but he has not hesitated to immediately make some changes that will affect employers (with many more to come).
Many of the President’s new appointees will be familiar to those of us who were around for the Obama Administration.
Jenny Yang, who was the last Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the Obama Administration, was nominated on Wednesday to be head of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces affirmative action and other laws relevant to federal contractors. Cara Crotty, chair of our Affirmative Action Practice Group, has more at her blog.
Lauren McFerran, who is the only Democrat on the National Labor Relations Board, is now the Board Chair, replacing John Ring (R), who was chair during the Trump Administration. Mr. Ring will remain on the NLRB as a member. For much more on the labor outlook under the new administration, you won’t want to miss this excellent and very comprehensive bulletin by David Phippen.
As I’ve reported here before, the EEOC will retain a Republican majority until July 2022, when the term of Janet Dhillon — who was Chair until yesterday — expires. But President Biden has appointed Charlotte Burrows (D) to be the new Chair of the Commission. Ms. Burrows was originally appointed to the EEOC by President Obama and was reappointed by President Trump after her first term expired. The other Democrat on the Commission, Jocelyn Samuels, has been appointed Vice Chair, succeeding Keith Sonderling (R). Mr. Sonderling and Ms. Samuels are both Trump appointees.
Not long before he took office, then-President-elect Biden announced that he would nominate Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be the new Secretary of Labor, succeeding Eugene Scalia. Mayor Walsh is pro-union and generally espouses “pro-employee” positions on wage-hour issues, including a $15 minimum wage and “wage theft.” We also expect the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in a Walsh DOL to be more aggressive in conducting workplace safety investigations, requiring tough anti-COVID protocols, and issuing citations. That said, Mayor Walsh is reportedly somewhat open to the employer’s side of things and is known for drawing some high-profile employers to the City of Boston. Here is more on Mayor Walsh from Ellen Kearns and Laura Moisin, both of whom are in our Boston Office and therefore ought to know.
President Biden has taken a few more actions that will be of interest:
- Revoked President Trump’s Executive Order 13950, which prohibited federal contractors from having diversity training that was “divisive” or that engaged in racial “scapegoating.” Cara Crotty has more, plus a link to President Biden’s counter-E.O.
- Fired NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. On Wednesday, the Biden Administration asked GC Robb to voluntarily resign. He refused, so the Administration fired him on Wednesday night. His term would not have expired until November, and there is some question as to whether the President can legally fire a General Counsel before the expiration of his term. Mr. Robb’s termination meant that his Deputy General Counsel became acting GC . . . for less than a day. Last night, she was fired, too. (Gee, Joe, that doesn’t seem very employee-friendly.)
- Is calling for OSHA to issue more stringent COVID-19 standards in the workplace, and for OSHA and the Mine Safety Administration to consider issuing a possible emergency standard.
We’ll be back with lots more “Biden Time” in the coming weeks.
Robin Shea is a Partner with the law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP and has more than 20 years’ experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act), the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act; and class and collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-hour laws; defense of audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; and labor relations. She conducts training for human resources professionals, management, and employees on a wide variety of topics.