President-Elect Trump's Pick for Labor Secretary Likely Signals Significant Change to Obama Administration Labor Policy

President-elect Donald Trump will likely nominate CKE Restaurants chief executive Andrew Puzder to be the next Labor Secretary.[1]  Puzder has led CKE Restaurants—the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s—since 2000,[2] and has been a vocal critic of President Obama’s labor policy and government intervention in labor markets.[3]  President-elect Trump must still formally nominate Puzder, and the Senate must confirm the nomination before Puzder will be able to take office.  If confirmed, Puzder will likely push for a return to George W. Bush-era policies of reducing regulatory hurdles to help employers create jobs, which would represent a significant change from current Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who has pushed an employee-friendly labor policy.[4]

Puzder’s nomination likely signals the Trump administration’s intent to roll back several of President Obama’s key labor policies and regulations.  The Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Overtime Rule, which a federal court recently enjoined from enforcement (see related article), will likely not take effect unless the DOL successfully prevails on an expedited appeal prior to President-elect Trump taking office.  It is anticipated that Puzder’s Labor Department will not attempt to defend the DOL’s Overtime Rule, which Puzder has previously insisted would hurt workers by reducing employee hours, salaries, and bonuses.[5]  Puzder’s nomination also indicates that employers are unlikely to see a significant increase to the national minimum wage.[6] While many commentators have suggested that the Trump administration may support increasing the national minimum wage (see related article), Puzder spoke out against the “Fight for $15” movement, warning that raising minimum wages beyond $9 per hour would likely lead to the loss of jobs and increased automation in the restaurant industry.[7]  

Campbell Litigation will continue to track this development and report back when further updates are available.

 

[1] Julie Jargon and Michael C. Bender, Trump Expected to Name Fast-Food Executive Andy Puzder as Labor Secretary, The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 8, 2016).

[2] Id.

[3] Dave Jamieson, Donald Trump Reportedly Considering Fast Food CEO For Labor Secretary, The Huffington Post (Dec. 5, 2016).

[4] Ben Penn, Trump to Tap Fast-Food CEO Puzder as Labor Secretary, Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report (Dec. 8, 2016).

[5] Id.

[6] It should be stressed that many states, including Colorado (see related article), have already increased their minimum wage far exceeding the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. 

[7] Emily Cohn and Kate Taylor, Fast-food CEO who says machines are the answer to rising wages is expected to be named Trump’s next labor secretary, Business Insider (Dec. 8, 2016).  

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