Washington DC Labor and Employment News for June 7, 2024

The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update that summarizes labor and employment news from across the Beltway and clarifies how what’s happening in Washington, DC, could impact your business.

POTUS issues immigration proclamation, closes border. On June 4, 2024, President Biden issued a proclamation addressing the immigration and humanitarian crisis at the southern border of the United States. The proclamation temporarily suspends and restricts entry of non-citizens into the United States across the southern border, effective June 5, 2024 at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time. Pursuant to the proclamation, the Secretary of Homeland Security will terminate the suspension and restriction of entry into the United States. stating “at 12:01 a.m. eastern time on the date that is 14 calendar days after the Secretary has made an actual determination that there have been an average of fewer than 1,500 encounters for seven consecutive calendar days” along the border. The suspension will be reinstated upon “a factual determination that there has been an average of 2,500 encounters or more over seven consecutive calendar days.” While the proclamation does not directly address employment-based immigration, the initiative is an important development in a policy area – immigration – that is likely to take center stage as the November 2024 elections approach.

Republicans want to repeal the DOL OT rule. This week, Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) and Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule. Even if the resolution clears Congress — which will be no easy task — President Biden will veto it. As a reminder, effective July 1, 2024, the overtime rule will increase the salary base threshold to $43,888 per year, and employees earning below that amount will automatically be eligible for overtime pay. This salary level will increase to $58,656 per year starting January 1, 2025. Employer groups have also filed a legal challenge to the rule.

Foxx to EEOC: Make workplace voice memo available for public comment. On June 4, 2024, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, sent a letter to Charlotte Burrows, chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), asking for information. on a joint memorandum that the EEOC is pursuing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding situations in which offensive or harassing conduct and speech occurs in the workplace while employees are otherwise engaged in joint activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act . The NLRB addressed this situation in 2020 by issuing a decision outlining common sense rules for handling such situations, but the Board has since reversed that case, creating confusion for employers trying to change the culture and workplace environment free from unlawful harassment. Now, following reports of the upcoming memo from the EEOC and the Board of Directors, Foxx has asked Burrows to make the memo available for public comment from interested stakeholders. Foxx notes in her letter that if the EEOC goes back on its duty to ensure workplaces free of harassment, it “will demonstrate that the Biden administration’s insistence on appeasing unions takes precedence over protecting workers from harassment.” ”

Cassidy is seeking input on options for portable benefits. In a letter issued this week, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, solicited feedback from stakeholders on ways in which federal law could be changed to “provide workers to improve”. ‘ ability to pursue a career of choice while providing access to historically employment-based benefits such as healthcare and retirement benefits. The letter sets out a series of issues and questions regarding employee status (for example, where to draw the line between employee and independent contractor in a way that best serves the employee, and “what are the key federal statutory and regulatory barriers to this”?providing benefits to independent contractors?”), the types of benefits that are most desirable, how can benefits be provided when an employee serves multiple customers, and who should pay for any benefits.

OSHRC: Commissioner confirmations on the way? President Biden announced this week that he would nominate Mark Eskenazi to serve on the three-member Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC). Eskenazi currently serves as Assistant General Counsel in the Office of the United States Trade Representative and previously worked at the NLRB. Since April 2023, OSHRC has consisted of one commissioner, chairwoman Cynthia Attwood. The appointment of Eskenazi, along with former Commissioner Amanda Wood Laihow, would restore the quorum at OSHRC.

The GI Bill of Rights. June 6, 2024 was the eightieth anniversary of the Normandy landings – commonly referred to as D-Day – the Allied invasion of occupied France that paved the way for the defeat of Germany and the Axis powers in World War II. Shortly thereafter, in recognition of the sacrifice of the soldiers who participated in both D-Day and the larger war effort, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and members of Congress pushed for federal legislation to provide a range of benefits to returning veterans . Supported by the American Legion, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 was passed unanimously by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, just over two weeks after the D-Day invasion. The law, commonly referred to as the GI Bill of Rights, provided assistance – such as unemployment insurance, low-interest mortgages and educational assistance – to help veterans readjust to civilian life. While many benefited – approximately eight million veterans received education benefits within a decade of the law’s passage – the law has been criticized as exacerbating racist practices and inequalities of the time. Many black veterans faced discrimination in receiving the law’s benefits, especially regarding mortgages. By 1956, when the original law expired, the government had paid out more than $14.5 billion in education benefits and $33 billion in home loans to veterans.

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