Alex Acosta

At the end of April, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Alex Acosta as Labor Secretary.  Acosta replaced initial nominee Andrew Puzder, who withdrew his name from consideration amidst controversy surrounding the hiring of a housekeeper not authorized to work in the U.S., and mishandling the taxes related to her employment.

The Trump administration forwarded the names of two attorneys for background checks, in preparation for appointment to fill the vacant slots on the National Labor Relations Board. Marvin Kaplan is an attorney for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent federal agency that hears cases involving alleged workplace safety violations and adjudicates disputes between the Labor Department and employers. He previously served as the Republican workforce policy counsel for the House Education and the Workforce Committee. William Emanuel is a management-side lawyer at Littler Mendelson. Confirmation of the appointments would give the NLRB a Republican majority.

The administration hopes to have the appointments confirmed prior to the August recess. It is expected, or at least hoped, that a board with a Republican majority and a business-friendly Labor Secretary will unravel some of the Obama administration’s mischief, including the micro-unit ruling of Speciality Healthcare and the DOL’s persuader rule.

In the meantime, the current board continues to give employers headaches. An NLRB administrative law judge struck down a privacy policy that prohibited employees from recording any conversation without approval from the company’s legal department, and a no loitering policy for restaurant employees. The board also ruled in the favor of an employee who was fired for a post on Facebook that lambasted his supervisor in a string of profanity.

On the bright side, the board decided not to use rule-making authority to reverse a 2004 board decision to disallow Weingarten rights for non-union employees.

A New York City newly enacted law to keep an eye on is the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act. Effective as of May 15, the law regulates the hiring and payment of contractors. Written contracts and timely payment are the two main requirements of the law. Watch for this to spread to other states.