This week’s top story on Employment Law This Week: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) plans to roll back a controversial reporting rule initiated at the end of the Obama administration.

OSHA has proposed rescinding parts of a 2017 rule that requires companies with 250 or more employees to submit detailed reports on workplace injuries. OSHA says this move would protect employee privacy and reduce the burden for employers. Three organizations have filed suit over the proposed changes, saying that the data from the detailed reports helps improve workplace safety procedures.

Watch this week’s Employment Law This Week episode below.

Our colleague Steven M. Swirsky, a Member of the Firm at Epstein Becker Green, has a post on the Management Memo blog that will be of interest to many of our readers: “OSHA Withdraws ‘Fairfax Memo’ – Union Representatives May No Longer Participate in Work Place Safety Walkarounds at Non-Union Facilities.”

Following is an excerpt:

On April 25, 2017, Dorothy Dougherty, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and Thomas Galassi, Director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, issued a Memorandum to the agency’s Regional Administrators notifying them of the withdrawal of its previous guidance, commonly referred to as the Fairfax Memorandum, permitting “workers at a worksite without a collective bargaining agreement” to designate “a person affiliated with a union or community organization to act on their behalf as a walkaround representative” during an OSHA workplace investigation. …

Read the full post here.

The new episode of Employment Law This Week offers a year-end roundup of the biggest employment, workforce, and management issues in 2016:

  • Impact of the Defend Trade Secrets Act
  • States Called to Ban Non-Compete Agreements
  • Paid Sick Leave Laws Expand
  • Transgender Employment Law
  • Uncertainty Over the DOL’s Overtime Rule and Salary Thresholds
  • NLRB Addresses Joint Employment
  • NLRB Rules on Union Organizing

Watch the episode below and read EBG’s Take 5 newsletter, “Top Five Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Issues of 2016.”

Employers Under the Microscope: Is Change on the Horizon?

When: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019

Epstein Becker Green’s Annual Workforce Management Briefing will focus on the latest developments in labor and employment law, including:

  • Latest Developments from the NLRB
  • Attracting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
  • ADA Website Compliance
  • Trade Secrets and Non-Competes
  • Managing and Administering Leave Policies
  • New Overtime Rules
  • Workplace Violence and Active-Shooter Situations
  • Recordings in the Workplace
  • Instilling Corporate Ethics

This year, we welcome Marc Freedman and Jim Plunkett from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Marc and Jim will speak at the first plenary session on the latest developments in Washington, D.C., that impact employers nationwide.

We are also excited to have Dr. David Weil, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, serve as the guest speaker at the second plenary session. David will discuss the areas on which the Wage and Hour Division is focusing, including the new overtime rules.

In addition to workshop sessions led by attorneys at Epstein Becker Green – including some contributors to this blog! – we are also looking forward to hearing from our keynote speaker, Former New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.

View the full briefing agenda here.

Visit the briefing website for more information and to register, and contact Sylwia Faszczewska or Elizabeth Gannon with questions. Seating is limited.

One of the featured stories on Employment Law This Week – Epstein Becker Green’s new video program – is that in a year when OSHA penalties are already set to increase, a new enforcement initiative is putting pressure on companies to make sure they’re compliant.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Labor have teamed up to encourage federal prosecutors to pursue OSHA and other worker safety violations as environmental crimes. These crimes can be charged as felonies, while OSHA violations are considered misdemeanors. The initiative will facilitate the sharing of information and files between the DOJ and DOL to pursue criminal actions.

See below to view the episode and a related client advisory co-authored by our own Valerie Butera.


By Jordan B. Schwartz and Eric J. Conn

On March 18, 2013, President Obama nominated Thomas E. Perez, a Harvard Law School graduate and current federal prosecutor with a long track record of defending civil rights and vulnerable workers, to become the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.  Perez would replace Seth Harris, the Acting Secretary of Labor and former Deputy Secretary of Labor, who has been filling the role since Secretary Hilda Solis resigned from the post in January.

Thomas Perez’s Background 

Since October 2009, Perez has served as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.  From 2006 to 2009, Perez served as Maryland’s Secretary of Labor.  In that capacity, he led efforts to target Maryland companies who were engaging in workplace fraud by imposing new restrictions on employees who had been misclassified as independent contractors.  Perez’s efforts led to the implementation of Maryland’s Workplace Fraud Act of 2009, with him stating that the Act would “ensure that employers who attempt to cheat the system, their workers, and their competitors, will pay a steep price for their actions.”

During his tenure as Maryland’s Secretary of Labor, where his jurisdiction included Maryland’s Occupational Safety and Health Division, Perez distinguished himself as a strong and vocal defender of safety protections for Maryland workers.  According to Fred Mason, the president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, Perez fought to increase funding for the state occupational safety and health plan, which had been underfunded under Governor Robert Ehrlich.  Specifically, Mason stated that “that department went for a couple years with essentially no money to hire people to enforce laws that were already on the books.”  After Perez took office, “we began to make a comeback of sorts, in terms of having the necessary workers to do the inspections.”  Similarly, Peg Seminario, safety and health director at AFL-CIO, said she considered Perez “an excellent choice” to head the Labor Department.

The Nomination of Thomas Perez 

At a time when the President has promised to create more jobs and overhaul immigration policy, Mr. Obama has presented Mr. Perez, who would be the only Hispanic in the cabinet, as an American immigration success story, whose own history would help him tackle important current controversial issues.  At the White House on March 18, Obama called Perez a “consensus builder” who “understands that our economy works best when the middle class and those working to get into the middle class have the security they need on the job, a democratic voice in the workplace, everybody playing by the same set of rules.”  At the same press conference, Perez stated that:

“as you well know, our nation still faces critical economic challenges, and the department’s mission is as important as ever. . . . I am confident that together with our partners in organized labor, the business community, grass-roots communities, Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike, we can keep making progress for all working families.”

Not surprisingly, this nomination has drawn praise from worker advocates, and most Democrats have expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for this nomination.  Senator Patrick Leahy said in a statement that as a former Secretary of Labor in Maryland “and a fierce defender of workers’ rights and civil rights, [Perez] is uniquely situated to serve in this important post at a critical time when Congress will be considering issues like immigration reform, reducing unemployment, and continuing our economic recovery.”

Congressional Republicans, however, have indicated a potentially rocky confirmation process and voiced their concern that Perez is the “wrong man for this job.”  In particular, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has stated that “this is an unfortunate and needlessly divisive nomination” as “Mr. Perez has aggressively sought ways to allow the hiring of more illegal workers.”  Additionally, Representative John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee and thus a key house Republican on worker safety issues, has stated that “our country needs a labor secretary who will put America’s jobs before his own” and cited “troubling allegations in the media and an independent investigation” about Perez.

The Confirmation Hearing 

During the April 18, 2013 confirmation hearing, Mr. Perez stated that he would seek a balance of protecting worker safety while also encouraging economic growth.  Specifically, Mr. Perez told the Senate, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that “job safety and job growth are not mutually exclusive” and thus “it is not necessary to choose between one and the other.”  When asked what his top priority would be as labor secretary, he responded “jobs, jobs, jobs.”  He also testified that other priorities would be reauthorizing the Workplace Investment Act with bipartisan support, pension security, enforcement of wage and hour laws, job safety and equal opportunity in the workplace. Continue Reading Our Next U.S. Secretary of Labor – Still Likely to be Thomas Perez