WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 20, 2016 -
Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI) issued the following statement today in response to enforcement changes announced by the Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division:
Once again the administration is pushing regulatory policies that will harm the workers and job creators they claim they want to help. This is part of a larger effort that will threaten the livelihoods of small business owners and destroy opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs to succeed in today's economy. Every day countless individuals are working to start their own businesses and shape an innovative 21st century workforce, and the president and his allies insist on imposing outdated policies that will hold them back. Adding insult to injury, the administration denied the very men and women impacted by this new regulatory scheme a chance to voice their views and concerns. We need to focus on solutions that will create – not destroy – opportunities for working families to achieve the success they deserve.
BACKGROUND: In recent years, the Obama administration has made a concerted effort to redefine what it means to be an employer. Discarding years of settled labor policy, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision in August 2015 that expanded the definition of employer to include those who have "indirect" or even "potential" control over practically any employment decision. This followed a decision by NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin who determined McDonald's Inc. was a joint employer with various franchises.
Also in August 2015, news reports revealed a draft memorandum to expand joint employer liability for workplace safety and health violations. The committee wrote to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez in October 2015 to request information on this proposed change to health and safety enforcement. In a written response on November 18, 2015, the department denied any new enforcement guidance had been created and stated the "Department did not coordinate with the [NLRB]" in preparing the draft memorandum.
However, on January 13, 2016, the committee received new information which calls into question the veracity of the department's previous assurances, including emails between department and NLRB officials expressing a desire to "compare notes" on joint employer policies. The committee has since renewed its request for all documents, communications, and information related to this matter. The full letter and more information on the committee's oversight are available here.
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