What a new DOL means for employers, workplace laws

Posted December 21, 2016

By Katie Loehrke, PHR, editor, J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

On December 8, President-Elect Donald Trump announced his choice for Secretary of Labor: Andrew F. Puzder. If his nomination is approved in January by the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and confirmed by a full Senate vote, Puzder would be responsible for the Department of Labor and for enforcing workplace laws.

Who is Andrew F. Puzder?

Puzder is a lawyer-turned-CEO for CKE Restaurant Holdings, Inc., the parent company for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. He also served as an economic advisor to President-Elect Trump during his campaign for President and to Mitt Romney in his Presidential campaign.

Where he stands

As a regular guest on television news shows, a book author, and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and other publications, there’s no shortage of information on where Puzder stands. Here’s a bit on his recent history.

On government involvement: Puzder joins President-Elect Trump in his view that American businesses are unnecessarily burdened by overregulation.

On minimum wage: Puzder has not supported raising the federal minimum wage significantly, indicating that to do so would hurt small businesses and lead to job loss and increased automation. However, he has stated that he would not be opposed to “rational” increases to the federal minimum wage.

But what’s “rational” in Puzder’s eyes? In 2014, Puzder wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal opposing the Obama administration’s call to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

On the DOL’s overtime changes: In a Forbes opinion piece, Puzder stated his belief that the new overtime regulations need to be withdrawn, calling them “just another added regulatory cost that [employers] must look to offset” and “another barrier to the middle class” for employees. As Secretary of Labor, Puzder could be part of an effort to put an end to the revised overtime regulations, which, in November, were halted by a permanent injunction by a federal judge in Texas. Puzder could refuse to defend the regulations in court. He could also propose revisions to the rules (though such revisions would need to go through a public notice and comment period).

It’s been said that the past is the best indicator of the present, so Puzder’s views as Secretary of Labor (if confirmed) may reflect the views he’s already expressed, though his outlook certainly could change in the new role, as well. One thing is for certain, however: The incoming administration will bring change. Employers will just have to wait to see precisely what shape it takes.

About the author:

Katie Loehrke

Katie Loehrke is a certified Professional in Human Resources and an editor with J. J. Keller & Associates, a nationally recognized compliance resource firm. The company offers a diverse line of products and services to address the broad range of responsibilities held by HR and corporate professionals. Loehrke specializes in employment law topics such as discrimination, privacy and social media, and affirmative action. She is the editor of J. J. Keller’s Employment Law Today newsletter and its Essentials of Employment Law manual. For more information, visit www.jjkeller.com/hr.