On Friday, July 12, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned from his position, a move accelerated by intense criticism over his involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein plea agreement. Until President Trump appoints a permanent replacement, current Labor Deputy Secretary Patrick Pizzella will serve as acting secretary.
After Trump announced the resignation, Acosta stated that he didn’t think it was “right and fair for this administration’s Department of Labor (DOL) to have Epstein as the focus rather than the incredible economy that we have today.”
Because Pizzella is known to take a stronger pro-business stance than Acosta (who was considered “middle of the road” at the time of his nomination), many businesses are curious how Pizzella and his successor will handle the 180+ federal laws enforced by the DOL.
For example, Acosta recognized that the FLSA exempt salary threshold for white-collar workers needed to be raised — just not as high as the blocked Obama administration-era rule. Under recent movement on this issue, the DOL’s 2019 proposed rule would raise the minimum salary requirement to $679/week ($35,308 annually), considerably less than the 2016 rule. But for now, the 2004 threshold of $23,660 remains.
In addition to this critical time and pay issue, the Labor Secretary plays a pivotal role in any “worker-friendly” paid sick leave and equal pay rules coming out of the DOL, as well as strategic enforcement of proper independent contractor classification and whistleblower protections.
At ComplyRight, we’re committed to freeing employers from the burden of tracking and complying with complex federal laws and regulations, so we’re keeping close tabs on this newest development. Though we can’t predict with any certainty what the acting secretary and his staff will do in the coming months, we’ll be watching for action on several timely legal issues that now fall under his direction.
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