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Department of Labor Announces Limited Agenda for 2017-2018, but Plans on Enforcing Obama-Era Priorities

July 24, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued its regulatory agenda for the coming year, and employers may be surprised by what that agenda does not include. While the business community expected to see fewer new rules from the DOL under the Trump Administration, the published agenda shows little interest in striking down existing policies or regulations. In fact, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division announced no new rules, and the only cut to existing regulations referenced in the agenda was a 2011 DOL rule limiting certain types of tip pools. Other prominent Obama-era policies remain under review, but the DOL has yet to announce any plans to take action on them during the next 12 months.

In fact, the Trump Administration DOL may have similar enforcement priorities to those articulated under the Obama Administration. Regional DOL officials have publicly stated that there has been no change in enforcement priorities for their offices, despite the recent withdrawal of two significant Administrator’s Interpretations earlier this year. At the same time, the DOL has sought public input on the agency’s increased salary requirements for exempt white-collar employees - which a federal court in Texas enjoined from being implemented in 2016 - and pressed forward with the defense of those rules. On June 30, 2017, after months of delay to determine its position, the Trump administration filed its final brief in the appeal of the Texas ruling.

These recent announcements make clear that the business community cannot be lulled into a false belief that the DOL has abandoned its prior enforcement initiatives. Employers must continue to closely monitor changes in the DOL’s regulations and priorities on wage and hour matters. For more information, please contact the attorneys of Honigman’s Labor and Employment practice.

Please also visit the practice group’s blog, the Employer’s Wage and Hour Advisor for information on additional topics.