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’s Acting Wage Chief Reflects on First Year in Role,” by Max Kutner. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

As President Joe Biden's pick to lead the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division awaits Senate confirmation, the division's acting administrator hasn't shied away from rulemaking and initiatives affecting millions of workers.

For more than a year, Jessica Looman has temporarily run the division responsible for enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act and other statutes, overseeing a $251 million budget, a staff that includes more than 700 investigators and nearly 100 local offices. Looman was new to federal government, but observers said she has already left her mark. …

Law360 looks at Looman's background, her first year on the job and her plans for the agency. …

Breaking with the Trump Era

Over the past year, the division has also focused on enforcement, especially regarding misclassification of workers as independent contractors instead of employees, and retaliation against workers who complain about wage violations, which the agency is working on with the solicitor of labor. …

Later, the division sought to withdraw a Trump-era rule on independent contractor classification, and it withdrew part of a tip penalty rule. The agency also killed a Trump-era rule on when employers were jointly liable for labor law violations. …

More recently, there has been more proactive rulemaking, like raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15 an hour, and proposing to update how prevailing wages are calculated under the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts.

Some rulemaking has hit resistance. Part of the federal contract worker minimum wage rule is on hold while an appeal in a case challenging the rule moves through the Tenth Circuit. And in mid-March, a Texas federal court halted the withdrawal of the Trump-era independent contractor rule.

"We're still evaluating the Texas decision," Looman said. As for the federal contract worker rule, which stemmed from a Biden executive order, she added, "We're still enforcing and implementing the minimum wage executive order for federal contract workers because that's our responsibility."

Past Wage and Hour Division administrators credited the way it has operated under Looman.

"I think the Wage and Hour division has done very well in carrying out its mission," said Paul DeCamp of Epstein Becker Green, who led the agency under President George W. Bush. "Everything seems to be running like a pretty well-oiled machine, in terms of the Wage and Hour Division policy shop carrying out the policy preferences of the administration."


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