Monday, December 16, 2013

Government shutdown data shows impact on labor and employment law enforcement

Below is the first part of an article by Hunter Williams LLP from It reads...

The government shutdown may have ended six weeks ago, but its impact may be felt for months to come.  The Office of Management and Budget recently released a report entitled “Impacts and Costs of the October 2013 Federal Government Shutdown,” which details the costs of the government shutdown and the impact it had on government workers, which in turn impacts the private sector workplace as well.
The OMB reports that the shutdown resulted in a combined total of 6.6 million lost work days, the largest amount ever recorded due to a government shutdown.  These lost work days translated into a significant cutback, or in some cases a complete stoppage, by federal agencies that are tasked with overseeing, executing and enforcing certain laws that govern the private workplace.  Of particular import, the OMB reports:
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:  During the shutdown, the EEOC retained only those personnel who were necessary to "protect government and individual property rights” and the EEOC suspended all investigations and mediation of pending charges.   As a result, over the course of the sixteen day closure, a backlog of approximately 3,150 new charges was created.  The OMB predicts that it will take the EEOC approximately one month to work through this backlog.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration:  More than 90% of the government’s OSHA inspectors were furloughed during the shutdown.  Inspectors that were permitted to work during the shutdown were only authorized to respond to matters of “emergencies involving the safety of human life or protection of property.”  As a result, almost 1,400 workplace safety investigations were stopped by OSHA, and only 283 inspections were opened during the sixteen days, which amounted to just 16% of the total inspections opened during the same time in 2012.   Furthermore, approximately 500 small businesses were directly impacted when one third of OSHA’s Consultation Program, through which States provide free on-site safety and health assistance to small businesses, was halted during the shutdown. 
  • Department of Labor:  During the shutdown, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor was permitted to respond only “to incidents involving imminent serious injury or death of a child or farmworker.”  Thus, over the course of sixteen days, the WHD opened only one new investigation and put more than 6,000 ongoing investigations on hold.  The OMB also reports that “back wage payments of approximately $8.8 million for an estimated 12,100 workers went uncollected.” 

Marc Primo Pulisci is a Los Angeles based attorney practicing with Initiative Legal Group. Marc Primo Pulisci has been practicing law for over 10 years. Find Marc on Marc Primo TwitterMarc Primo MantaMarc Primo FacebookMarc Primo Squarespace, Marc Primo Pulisci Dot Com,   Marc Primo Dot Com

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