With the approach of Inauguration Day, the Senate confirmation process for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks is in full swing. Televised or streamed hearings are taking place involving Trump’s choices to lead the U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department. All should be of keen interest to employers:
- Andrew Puzder, Secretary of the Department of Labor – Agencies under the Department of Labor affect all workplaces and include the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), and the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Puzder has been a vocal critic of government overregulation and the Affordable Care Act. (For examples of actions by the Obama DOL at which Puzder likely will take aim, see our articles, Overview of Department of Labor’s Final Fiduciary Rule, DOL and FAR Council Publish Final ‘Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces’ Rules for Government Contractors, Labor Department Announces Final Rule Amending Overtime Regulations for ‘White Collar’ Workers, and Court Halts Labor Department’s New Persuader Rule. For more information on Puzder, see our article, Fast-Food Restaurant CEO Tapped to Head Labor Department: What to Expect.) Puzder also is expected to have a hand in Trump’s filling of two vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board, likely creating a 3-2 pro-business majority.
- Tom Price, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services – The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for implementing the country’s health-related laws and regulations, which include the HIPAA Privacy Rule on the national standards to protect personal health information and parts of the Affordable Care Act that deal with private and public health insurance. Price is a U.S. Representative from Georgia and has opposed the Affordable Care Act. (For an example of HHS actions, see our article, Department of Health and Human Services Issues Compliance Resource for Governing Boards.)
- John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security – Agencies under the Department of Homeland Security include those key to the country’s border security and immigration, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On the selection of Kelly, see Retired Marine General Chosen to Head Department of Homeland Security.
- Jeff Sessions, Attorney General – The Attorney General heads the Department of Justice, the country’s primary federal criminal investigation and enforcement agency. Sessions is a U.S. Senator from Alabama and has opposed comprehensive immigration reform. (For examples of the Obama DOJ’s actions, see our articles, New DOJ, FTC Antitrust Compliance Guidance for Human Resources Attacks No-Poaching Agreements; Hospitals, Medical Providers Come under Scrutiny for Potentially Discriminatory Ads; and Department of Justice Warns Governor that North Carolina LGBT Law is Unlawful.)
Also of interest to employers will be Senate confirmation hearings involving attorney Jay Clayton, selected to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC enforces the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The Commission’s enforcement of these laws against businesses has been aggressive. For examples, see U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Surpasses $100 Million in Awards Through Whistleblower Program and SEC Fines Company $265,000 for Severance Agreements that Potentially Chilled Whistleblowers.