Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New Labor Secretary Confirmed, DOL to Make Decisions Soon?

On Thursday of last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Alexander Acosta as the 27th Secretary of Labor, filling the final open seat in President Donald Trump’s cabinet. With its secretary in place, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will now be able to move forward with decisions on two major rule-making issues.

The most widely watched decision to be made by the DOL is whether to defend or abandon the Obama Administration’s FLSA rule that would, if effective, significantly increase the minimum salary required for “white collar” exempt employees. As we reported earlier, that rule was blocked by a federal judge in November 2016. Under the Obama administration, the DOL appealed this ruling. Earlier this month, though, the DOL requested and obtained a third extension, until June 30, to decide whether it will defend the rule or abandon it under the new Trump administration.

Meanwhile, financial institutions and investment advisors are closely watching what Acosta’s DOL will do with respect to the “fiduciary rule” aimed at imposing new duties on financial advisors. The Obama administration had issued a final rule that was delayed by an order of President Trump. DOL’s next move on the rule will be determined by Acosta before the June 9, 2017 expiration of President Trump’s order.

In addition to these high-profile decisions, Acosta will begin the process of filling dozens of political appointee vacancies at DOL, several of which will require Senate confirmation. All of these moves will be closely watched as the DOL is able to move forward with its leader in place.

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