Paul DeCamp, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “DOL Secretary Walsh's Exit Could Shift Focus to Wage Issues,” by Max Kutner. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh's impending exit from the agency means the department could take a closer look at wage and hour issues, attorneys and government veterans said.

Following Tuesday's news that Walsh is poised to leave the DOL to become executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association, attorneys and other federal government observers said the next person in the role, even in an acting capacity, could shift the department's priorities.

Whereas Walsh has a building-trades union background and has given attention to union issues, Deputy Secretary Julie Su, who is expected to become acting secretary and possibly the nominee for the top job, previously oversaw a state agency that dealt with wage and hour issues, among others.

"We could see a big change in priorities depending on who the next person is who is running the department," said Epstein Becker Green member Paul DeCamp, who served as DOL Wage and Hour Division administrator under former President George W. Bush.

A DOL spokesperson declined to comment about Walsh to Law360 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters only that Walsh "is still, today, the Department of Labor secretary."

Here, Law360 explores what a departure by Walsh means for the agency. …

Less Emphasis on Organizing

Walsh has a background leading the Building and Construction Trades Council, and that experience has seemed to inform his interests as labor secretary, attorneys and other observers said. …

And under Walsh, the DOL moved forward with regulatory activity on construction-related issues such as prevailing wages under the Davis-Bacon Act. …

The president's administration sets the policy agenda, not the labor secretary, but some DOL chiefs tend to have more of a say than others when it comes to priorities, attorneys and agency veterans said.

"One of the things that varies with each administration is where the real decision-making power resides, with respect to labor and employment issues," said DeCamp, now at management-side firm Epstein Becker Green. "Sometimes that's with the secretary of labor, sometimes it's outside of the Department of Labor." …

Not the Only Vacancy

Walsh's departure would add to the list of leadership vacancies at the DOL, although the number of vacancies is not necessarily uncommon. Also on that list is Wage and Hour Division administrator, a role for which Biden has nominated two people, each twice.

But the secretary's departure would likely cause little interruption for the Wage and Hour Division when it comes to rulemaking, Epstein Becker Green's DeCamp said.

With no acting Wage and Hour Division administrator, Walsh signed the independent contractor proposed rule. Without Walsh, an acting secretary could sign such regulations, DeCamp and other agency veterans said.

When it comes to the content of the rules, "the way it could make a difference is if the person who's signing actually says, 'Wait a minute, I want to change this and reorient some of the substantive provisions of some of the documents,'" DeCamp said. "It's too early to know whether that's going to happen."

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