After the Midterms: What Does a Divided Congress Mean for HR & Workplace Law?

Elections have consequences – and the 2018 midterms are no exception.

Two years of Republican control of Washington ended on Nov. 6 with the Democrats seizing control of the House of Representatives. That gives Democrats the ability to set the agenda for legislation, including employment law issues. While a divided Congress should reduce the chances for big legislative action, it’s sure to mean one important thing for HR: more regulatory activity.

“Look for new – and potentially more aggressive – actions by the Trump administration on workplace issues like immigration, healthcare reform and harassment. We could also see changes in several wage and hour and leave arenas. Plus, you can expect state legislatures to get more active on all these issues (and more) if gridlock continues in Congress,” says attorney Joseph Beachboard, managing director of Ogletree Deakins and the moderator of the 2019 Labor & Employment Law Advanced Practices (LEAP) Symposium.

After the midterms, here are some of the key employment law issues to watch:

Immigration: Less reform, but more workplace audits
The chances for legislative reforms to the immigration system went from slim to almost none yesterday. But you can expect the Trump administration to double down on its efforts to make employers less of a “magnet” for undocumented workers. In fact, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has already conducted nearly FIVE TIMES as many workplace audits in 2018 as it did last year. NOTE: At our special pre-LEAP workshop, The I-9/E-Verify Summit, you’ll learn how to get your I-9 paperwork in order and be ready if ICE comes knocking.

Wage & Hour: New overtime rules still coming in spring?
President Obama’s proposal to double the salary threshold for paying overtime to white-collar workers was shot down in court two years ago. Now the Trump administration says it plans to issue a more modest proposal to raise the threshold (up from its current $23,660) in March. Democrats’ new power in the House won’t help them stop these proposed regulations, but if Trump can’t finalize the rules by the end of his term, a Democratic victory in 2020 could put another halt on the regulations. NOTE: At LEAP 2019, our Wage and Hour Update will provide timely compliance advice on overtime, misclassification, pay equity, joint-employer rules and more.

Employee leave: What’s new for paid leave and flextime?
A divided Congress means the chances for federal legislation on paid-leave and workplace flexibility are reduced. But the issue isn’t dead. President Trump may use his executive order powers in this area, plus this is another area where states are stepping in to fill the void. More than 10 states and dozens of localities already have paid-sick-leave laws. NOTE: LEAP 2019 has this issue covered, with special sessions on return-to-work issues, reasonable accommodations and mental-health leave.

Other key questions:

  • ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS: The Epic Supreme Court ruling opened the floodgates to employers drafting mandatory arbitration agreements. Will Democrats in the House try to stop it? (Our breakout session on this topic teaches you the pros and cons of arbitration, and how to make your pact bulletproof.)
  • #MeTOO: Several states have added new sexual harassment training and monitoring requirements onto employers. Will the Democratic House want to put new federal #MeToo training requirements onto employers? (Our #MeToo 2.0 session will explain the changes needed to your policies, practices and culture.)
  • STATEHOUSE CHANGES: The election also brought more Democrats into control of state legislatures and governorships around the country. What’s the impact on compliance requirements in your state? (Our Employment Law 2019 session answers those questions on the federal and state level.)

As you can see, the employment law landscape is in the midst of big changes. Get in compliance with the expert advice you’ll find at LEAP 2019. Plus, have a fabulous time with your peers at the legendary Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. See you in Vegas!

Register Now