Democratic administrations are about enforcement. Republican administrations are about education.
The end game is still enforcement, but each side approaches this goal very differently.
This dichotomy might be an oversimplification, but, in at least in contrasting the Obama administration to the Trump administration, it is very true.
If you search the archives of this blog from January 2009 through January 2017, you’ll find myriad examples of President Obama’s administrative agencies using its resources to enforce laws to penalize employers for violations.
The Trump administration, on the other hand, is using its resources to educate employers about avoiding violations.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently created a new Office of Compliance Initiatives. It will “promote greater understanding of federal labor laws and regulations, allowing job creators to prevent violations and protect Americans’ wages, workplace safety and health, retirement security, and other rights and benefits.”
Part of the OCI’s mission is to provide “employers and workers with access to high-quality, up-to-date information about their obligations and rights under federal labor laws and regulations.” To this end, the OCI launched two new websites to help employees and employers answer compliance questions: Worker.gov and Employer.gov. Each offers a wealth of materials discussing compliance under myriad federal laws, including the FLSA, NLRA, OSHA and Title VII (and other non-discrimination statutes).
Make no mistake, the government will still go after serious offenders, but at least for the next two-plus years, employers should be taking full advantage of the government’s focus on education.
Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Hyman’s blog at Workforce.com/PracticalEmployer.