Recently, President-elect Donald Trump tapped Andrew Puzder as his pick for Secretary of Labor. Puzder—the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.—has been an outspoken critic of government regulations, including efforts to increase the minimum wage and recent changes to the white-collar overtime exemption. If the Senate confirms Puzder, he will oversee the agencies responsible for these policies and his confirmation could signal a slowdown of anti-business federal regulations from the Department of Labor under President Obama’s Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez.
As Labor Secretary, Puzder would oversee the Wage & Hour Division of the Department of Labor, the division behind changes to the white-collar overtime exemptions. As previously reported on the Hunton Employment and Labor Law blog, a federal district court judge enjoined the new overtime rule from taking effect. If he is confirmed, Puzder could potentially direct the Department of Labor to stop fighting the lawsuit and could take steps to walk this back along with other regulations. Although Puzder’s nomination could mean relief for retailers, any changes would not likely take effect immediately. Puzder will likely have to go through the arduous rule-making process to walk back President Obama’s policies and could face lawsuits from pro-labor groups.
Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary could also signal the President-elect’s plan to appoint more business-friendly members to the National Labor Relations Board (”NLRB”). As we previously reported, the NLRB under President Obama has been particularly active and has overturned existing precedent on a number of issues affecting retailers. The appointment of more business-friendly members to the NLRB could potentially reverse course on key labor issues, including the joint-employer standard, assuming the proper case reaches the NLRB.