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What Small Business Owners Can Expect from the New Labor Secretary Nominee

Earlier this month, President Trump’s initial Labor Secretary nominee, Andrew Pudzer, withdrew from consideration. Assuming the second time’s the charm, Alexander Acosta will be confirmed by the Senate for this Cabinet-level position which heads the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), one of the federal agencies that has the widest and deepest impact on employers across the country. What should small business owners know about Acosta in order to predict what life will be like under his tenure as part of the Trump administration?

The departments of the USDOL most affecting employers are the Wage and Hours Division (WHD), the Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP). Given that Acosta is a Republican appointee, employers should see a decrease in the number and enforcement of the new regulations issued under the Obama era. Foremost among those is the WHD’s overtime wage rule, now on appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Just this week, a new due date for filing the DOJ’s brief is May 1, so maybe by then it is possible Acosta will be confirmed and can exercise his authority over this case.

With regards to OSHA, Acosta’s approach should resemble Trump’s agenda: He prefers the free markets and the free enterprise approaches, not the highly regulated ones. Acosta will likely review the recent rules issued under Obama and change those that impose too much burden over employers. For example, Acosta may reverse the whistleblower program which the Obama administration tried to change to make it easier to show discrimination and retaliation. He should also urge more compliance assistance for employers than federal litigation by OSHA. Additionally, he may review the newly revised Respiratory Silica Standard and OSHA’s Recordkeeping Standard, which greatly imposed new reporting issues on employers. Some think he will also reduce the use of the “joint employer” doctrine, which the Obama administration expanded vastly throughout the USDOL.

Under OFCCP, which controls federal contractors, Acosta is expected to rollback many executive orders (E.O.) signed by Obama that were not passed as laws by Congress. These include E.O. 13496 that requires employers to post a notice of employees’ right to organize unions; E.O. 13495 which requires successors to service contracts to offer jobs to the predecessor’s employees; and E.O. 13673 which is known as the “blacklisting” E.O. and requires disclosure of the prior three years’ of workplace law violations, and prohibits arbitration agreements relating to Title VII or sexual harassments.

While it is difficult to know exactly how Acosta might steer the USDOL if confirmed by the Senate, his wide-ranging experience with the National Labor Relations Board and as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, will prove to be valuable in his new role.

Martin Thompson is an attorney at Fisher Phillips. Have questions about a legal or labor and employment matter and how it may affect your business? Contact Fisher Phillips at

Posted: 3/1/2017 2:43:00 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: FisherPhillips, SmallBusiness

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Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

Public Relations
Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

Small Business Advice
Tom Pease is a small business owner of an office equipment dealership called e/Doc Systems, Inc. He has also owned a full-line Kawasaki dealership as well as a document shop. He used 30+ years of experience in owning a business to author two books, including: Going Out of Business by Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail and Small Business Survival 101. He also has published 85 columns in The Memphis Daily News as the Small Business Advisor.

Marketing & Public Relations
Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

Design and Digital Strategy
Founded in 1999, inferno provides brand development, advertising, public relations, design and digital marketing services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Headquartered in Memphis with a satellite office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the award-winning firm produces results-driven work by passionately combining strategic thinking, creativity and culture to ensure the success of its clients. For more information, visit

Labor & Employment Law
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.