Wilmington, USA

On the horizon for US e mployers: Unionisation, joint enforcement initiatives, and increased penalties from government agencies

By Natalie Sanders, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP

President Joe Biden vowed to be “the strongest labour president you have ever had”. On 07 February 2022, the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment issued a report containing almost 70 steps to help Biden keep that vow. These recommendations are intended to accomplish the following key goals:

  • Make the federal government a model labour-friendly employer;
  • Support worker empowerment through information and transparency and by making sure existing pro-worker services are delivered in a timely and helpful manner; and
  • Leverage the federal government’s purchasing and spending power to support workers who are organising and to support pro-worker employers.

The Task Force recommendations come alongside other pro-worker moves from federal enforcement agencies. For example, the Department of Labor (DOL), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced their plan to work together to combat retaliation through “vigorous enforcement” and inter-agency cooperation. The DOL is hiring 100 additional investigators in its Wage and Hour Division. The NLRB intends to expand damages it seeks, and penalties for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) have increased.

All this means that employers in the US need to review their policies and practices in anticipation of increased investigations and enforcement by federal agencies. They should expect to hear from multiple agencies once one is in the door. They need to strategise and plan for an increase in union organising activity, and, even without a union in the workplace, employers should expect their employees to become more informed about their rights and more assertive about exercising them.

Natalie Sanders

Natalie Sanders

GGI member firm
Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP
Law Firm Services
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Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP is a full-service corporate law firm providing innovative and comprehensive legal services to businesses, organisations, and individuals worldwide.

Natalie Sanders provides counsel and defense to businesses in all aspects of the employment relationship. Her 25 years of experience as an attorney, operations manager, entrepreneur, and community volunteer allow her to relate well to management and provide nuanced guidance in complex matters.

Published: Employment Law Newsletter, No.12, Summer 2022 l Photo: Darwin Brandis - stock.adobe.com

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