Trump Proposes $2.5B Cut to Dept. of Labor’s Budget and Elimination of Chemical Safety Board

By Kara M. Maciel and Eric J. Conn

The Trump Administration submitted a blueprint budget for 2018 to Congress proposing $2.5 Billion in cuts to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) operating budget.  The President’s proposed budget expressly calls for reduced funding for grant programs, job training programs for seniors and disadvantaged youth, and support for international labor efforts.  It also proposes to entirely defund and eliminate the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (“CSB”) – an independent, federal, non-enforcement agency that investigates chemical accidents at fixed facilities.  The budget plan also purports to shift more funding responsibility to the states with labor related programs.  Finally, although less explicit, the budget blueprint appears to deliver on promises from Trump’s campaign trail that rulemaking and regulatory enforcement efforts under the myriad laws and regulations enforced by the sub-agencies, such as the Wage and Hour Division and OSHA would be slashed.

These proposed budget cuts at DOL and other agencies are all part of a plan to offset the White House’s intent to increase defense and security spending by $54 billion.  Overall, Trump requested $1.065 Trillion in total discretionary spending, with $603 billion going to Defense.

The proposal would shrink DOL’s budget to $9.6 Billion – down 21% from the $12.2 Billion budget for 2017. Trump’s planned reductions announced on March 16, 2017 – while not really surprising in the context of his view toward federal spending on non-defense agencies – would have a seismic impact on DOL’s ability to carry out both policy initiatives under former President Obama as well as many of the Department’s longstanding programs.

The business community welcomes Trump’s effort to rein in what has been viewed as an intrusive, enforcement-heavy Labor Department, but we caution not to count chickens yet. These proposed cuts will undergo heavy scrutiny by Congress before any budget is finalized. The President’s spending plan is only the first step in months of negotiations between the White House and both houses (and parties) in Congress. Pres. Trump will put forward a more detailed spending proposal in May, and various legislative committees will scrutinize his requests, calling on Cabinet Secretaries, Agency Heads, and others in the Administration to testify about or otherwise explain their spending needs and requests.

Key Takeaways from Trump’s Budget Blueprint

While the administration provided estimates for some of the proposed cuts, it did not specify where the majority of the budget cuts would come from.  What we do know is that the proposed budget would Continue reading

Bathroom Break: OSHA Bathroom Issues, ADA Accessibility, and Transgender Bathrooms [Webinar Recording]

On December 13, 2016, Eric J. Conn and Jordan Schwartz of Conn Maciel Carey’s national Labor and Employment and OSHA Practices, for a complimentary webinar regarding Employee Access to Sanitary Bathrooms, ADA Accessibility, and Transgender Bathrooms. bathroom-webinar-cover-slide

Although not historically a hotbed of OSHA / Employment law activity, access to bathrooms by both employees and members of the public has become a high profile issue of late.  OSHA has always required employers to provide employees with prompt access to sanitary toilet facilities, to minimize adverse health risks.  Recently, however, OSHA and other federal, state and local authorities began to prohibit discriminatory practices with regard to restroom access based on the principle that individuals have the right to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.  There are also a host of requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act that must be met for a bathroom to be considered accessible and usable by an individual with a disability.  This webinar reviewed the requirements in these areas, and provided specific strategies to address this new and complex area of the law.

Participants in this complimentary webinar learned about the following:

  • OSHA rules regarding accessibility to bathroom facilities and sanitation issues
  • Transgender workplace obligations
  • Federal Agency Interpretations of Title VII to include discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status
  • State laws regarding discriminatory practices in regard to restroom access
  • Best practices for overcoming typical bathroom ADA accessibility issues

Here is a link to recording of the webinar.  If you missed Continue reading

[Webinar] OSHA, Labor & Employment, and MSHA Impacts of the Upcoming Presidential Election

On Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at 1 PM Eastern, join Eric J. Conn, Kara M. Maciel and Nick W. Scala of Conn Maciel Carey’s national Labor and Employment Practice and Workplace Safety Practice, for a complimentary webinar regarding the OSHA, Labor & Employment, and MSHA Impacts of the Upcoming Presidential Election. election-webinar-cover-slide

In just a few weeks, we will have the opportunity to enter the voting booth, and cast a ballot to elect the next President of the United States.  The platforms and proposed polices of the candidates are more divergent than ever.  The outcome of this election will significantly impact this country’s future with respect to healthcare, military actions, economic policy, and of course, workplace challenges, like union organizing, and occupational safety and health regulation and enforcement.  This webinar will discuss the public positions taken by both candidates about labor employment subjects and safety and health enforcement and rulemaking, and the likely impacts depending on which candidate takes the White House.

Here is a link to register for this webinar.  If you missed Continue reading

Workplace Violence: Employer Liability in Virginia and Potential VOSH Penalties

By Daniel C. Deacon and Kara M. Maciel

Workplace violence has become a serious issue for employers throughout the United States. In the wake of the recent mass shootings that occurred in San Bernardino, CA and Hesston, KA, both of which occurred at least in part at an employer’s workplace, it is important for employers to be aware of the potential for violence in the workplace and ways in which it can be prevented.  Although these two incidents may not have been foreseeable or preventable,WPV Image these incidents will nevertheless bring more attention to this issue, including by litigants and regulators.

Workplace violence can be categorized in three ways:

  1. Violence by an employee;
  2. Violence by a stranger; or
  3. Violence by a known third party.

Depending on the facts of each incident, an employer may be faced with a lawsuit and/or a regulatory investigation and enforcement action.  In Virginia, the law generally shields employers from liability for physical harm caused to employees or customers by the violent acts of co-employees or third parties.  However, even if an employer evades civil liability, employers may still be subject to an investigation by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, and incur significant civil penalties.

Given the potential for both a civil suit and a government investigation, employers should implement workplace policies and programs that help keep the workplace safe and free of workplace violence.  This article details the potential legal liabilities and penalties employers may incur from workplace violence incidents, and provides guidance on how prevent such incidents or liabilities from occurring. Continue reading

Workplace Violence: No Longer Just a Police Issue [Webinar Recording]

On Tuesday, November 10, 2015, Eric J. Conn and Kara M. Maciel delivered a webinar regarding “Workplace Violence: No Longer Just a Police Issue.”

Every year, approximately 10% of workplace fatalities result from intentional violent acts.  The prevalence of workplace violence is even more alarming when you take into account non-fatal assaults and threats of violence.  This particular workplace hazard is uniquely challenging because the threat is often from outside the workplace, including non-employee third parties.  Regardless, workplace violence has also become a hot button enforcement issue for OSHA, citing employers under the OSH Act’s catch-all General Duty Clause for employers who do not do enough to protect their employees from violent acts.  Beyond OSHA, workplace violence can also implicate other employment laws.  For example, if violent acts or threats occur because of symptoms of an employee’s disability, the handling of discipline and termination gets tricky under the ADA.  Likewise, Workplace Violence Webinar Cover SlideHR issues related background checks and negligent hiring could also contribute to civil liability.

Therefore, it is important for employers to develop and implement an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Program and appropriate hiring practices.  This webinar advised employers about their legal obligations to address workplace violence and the implications if they fail to do so.  It also provided employers with the knowledge and tools they need to Continue reading