Members of Congress have introduced proposals that would increase the federal minimum wage, which was last increased in 2009. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that data collection for the EEO-1 report will open on October 31st. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has revised its standards for determining if employer work standards violate the statutory rights of employees. The EEOC and the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor have entered into an agreement designed to enhance the enforcement of the federal laws and regulations that they administer.
Minimum Wage Increases Proposed – There have been proposals to increase the minimum wage that have been introduced during this session of Congress. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and was last increased in 2009. The minimum wage legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Six Republican Senators have recently introduced the Higher Wages for American Workers Act (S. 2785) that would incrementally increase the minimum wage to $11/hour and mandate the use of the E-Verify system to ensure that workers are legally authorized. The proposed legislation would increase the minimum wage by 75 cents/hour each year until reaching $11/hour in 2028. Thereafter, the minimum wage would be indexed to inflation every two years. According to Senator Romney (R-UT), one of the sponsors of the legislation, this proposal “would raise wages for millions of workers without risking jobs and tether the wage to inflation to ensure it keeps up with rising costs. Additionally, requiring employers to use E-Verify would ensure that the wage increases goes to legal workers, which would protect American jobs and eliminate a key driver of illegal immigration.”
The Raise the Wage Act (S. 2488, H.R. 4889) was introduced earlier this session by Democrats and has a large number of cosponsors. These bills would increase the minimum wage incrementally until it reached $17/hour, five years after the effective date of the law. Thereafter, the minimum wage would be indexed annually to keep pace with inflation.
EEO-1 Data Collection to Open on October 31st – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the 2022 EEO-1 data collection will begin on October 31, 2023. The filing deadline is December 5, 2023. The EEOC has issued the 2022 EEO-1 instruction booklet. Private employers with at least 100 employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees are required to report annually on the number of individuals they employ by job category and by race, sex, and ethnicity.
NLRB Revises Standard for Assessing Work Rules – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision in Stericycle Inc., reversing previous rulings that assessed the impact of employer work rules on the ability of employees to engage in activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). According to NRLB Chairman Lauren McFerran, “Under the new standard, the Board will carefully consider both the potential impact of work rules on employees and the interests that employers articulate in support of their rules.”
The NLRB indicated that the new standard it adopted will result in a case-by-case review of the specific language of employer rules and their impact on the statutory rights of employees. The goal is to “ensure that employers do not maintain unlawfully overbroad work rules that have a reasonable tendency to chill employees from exercising their statutory rights.” The decision notes that the Board will determine whether a challenged work rule could prevent employees from exercising their rights. In making this determination, it will interpret the rule from the perspective of an economically dependent reasonable employee who is a layperson and not an attorney. If the employee could interpret the rule to restrict or prevent protected activity, the rule is presumptively unlawful. The Board stated that that “an employer may rebut the presumption by proving that the rule advances a legitimate and substantial business interest, and that the employer is unable to advance that interest with a more narrowly tailored rule.”
The NLRB noted that work rule ambiguity is construed against the employer who drafted the rule. The Board concluded that “requiring employers to narrowly tailor their rules is a critical part of working out the proper adjustment between employee rights and employer interests in the work-rules context.”
EEOC and DOL Sign Memorandum of Understanding – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor have entered into a memorandum of understanding designed to enhance the enforcement of federal laws and regulations that are administered by EEOC and the WHD. The memorandum became effective on September 13th and will remain in effect until terminated by the parties. According to the EEOC and WHD, this memorandum “formalizes and increases coordination between the agencies through information sharing, joint investigations, training, and outreach.”
Neil Reichenberg is the former executive director of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources. He is an attorney, a frequent writer and speaker on public policy and human resource issues, and an adjunct faculty member at George Mason University. For questions or additional information, contact Reichenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.