Congress rolls back workers’ rights, protects employers’ immunity

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Protections for U.S. workers have taken a hit in 2017. The federal government planned in 2016 to reform state workers’ compensation systems and to recommend minimum benefit standards to the states. This year, the U.S. Department of Labor was seen as unlikely to undertake any review of state workers’ compensation issues.

 

In November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Save Local Business Act, a bill that would overturn a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that made companies potentially liable for labor law violations committed by their subcontractors. The NLRB is a federal agency that referees disputes involving employers, workers and their unions. Opponents of the bill argued that it “gives a free pass to unscrupulous companies that steal wages, fail to pay overtime and break child labor laws,” reported The Hill. A spokesperson for the Economic Policy Institute claimed the bill “robs workers of their rights, making it impossible for them to effectively collectively bargain or litigate workplace disputes.”

 

The bill followed the House’s passage of a bill in May designed to allow private-sector employees to exchange overtime pay for “compensatory time” off. The bill’s proponents said the change would improve flexibility for overtime-eligible employees (often lower-wage hourly workers) to take care of their families. Its opponents contended that the bill would cut in to workers’ ability to earn extra money needed for savings or to make ends meet, because employers control an employee’s working hours. They feared the bill would not adequately protect workers who might feel coerced to opt for the comp time over extra pay.

 

Early in December, the NLRB’s new general counsel, Peter B. Robb, moved to restrain the ability of NLRB officials nationwide to follow precedents set in the past eight years. Former NLRB board member Wilma Liebman told the Huffington Post, “The direction is crystal clear. There is an agenda: Fewer workers will have fewer rights.

 

Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on workers’ compensation and personal injury law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at ram@mangerlaw.com, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

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