The U.S. Department of Labor withdrew its “Persuader” rule aimed at forcing employers to file public reports about who and how much they were paying to provide advice on how to deal with unions, including consultants and outside attorneys.
This removes the Obama-era DOL rule, which had been blocked by several federal courts from going into effect. The action sinply restores the right balance, according to Nathan Mehrens, deputy assistant secretary of Labor Department’s Office of Policy.
“For decades, the department enforced an easy-to-understand regulation: Personal interactions with employees done by employers’ consultants triggered reporting obligations, but advice between a client and attorney did not,” he said.
“By rescinding this rule, the department stands up for the rights of Americans to ask a question of their attorney without mandated disclosure to the government.”
The Obama-era DOL adopted the rule in 2016, which at the time was hailed by labor unions as a significant step forward in making it easier for them to organize workers. It was opposed by employer groups and lawyers who said the rule violated privileged attorney-client communications.
Before the rule could become effective, a federal District Court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking its implementation. Last year, the Trump DOL proposed rescinding the rule.
Bradford Livingston, an attorney with the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw, warns that “in Washington, no bad idea ever dies. Democrats in Congress are looking to pass legislation that would codify the now-rescinded rule. And who knows what the mid-term elections will bring this November, or what the 2020 elections will bring.”