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Mar 5, 2014

By Ilyse Wolens Schuman

This week, the White House released its $3.9 trillion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2015.

While such proposals are more aspirational than anything else, they do provide insight into the programs and initiatives the Administration deems priorities for the coming year. The budget for the U.S. Department of Labor is notable because it reflects the Agency’s continued emphasis on enforcement.

The proposal would grant the Labor Department $11.8 billion in discretionary funding, much of which would support the enforcement of wage and hour, worker misclassification, whistleblower, and employment safety laws.

The budget is expected to face criticism from Congress, where a number of proposals are likely to be rejected or modified. However, the budget request confirms that employers can expect aggressive enforcement of federal employment and labor laws to continue. Highlights from the proposal are as follows:

Department of Labor

  • The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) would receive a $41 million increase from the amount requested for FY 2014, for more than $265 million. Much of this funding would be slated for enforcement actions. According to the budget appendix, in 2015, “approximately 290,000 persons are expected to be aided under the FLSA through securing agreements with firms to pay back wages owed to their workers. In government contract compliance actions, about 25,000 persons will be aided through securing agreements to pay wages owed to workers.”

The funding increase would pay for an additional 300 WHD investigators who would “use risk-based approaches to target the industries and employers most likely to break the law.” Approximately $14 million would be used to combat misclassification, including $10 million in state grants to assist local efforts, and $4 million for additional WHD personnel devoted to misclassification enforcement. Finally, the budget would provide $5 million to a State Paid Leave Fund to provide technical assistance and support to states that are considering paid leave programs.

  • The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) would receive an additional $3 million in FY 2015, for a total of $109 million. According to the budget report, the agency “will complete 4,290 compliance evaluations in 2015, with a focus on both supply and service construction reviews.”
  • The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) would receive approximately $41 million, a $2 million increase from the prior year’s request. The budget appendix claims that in 2015, the OLMS  “plans continued efforts to advance transparency and financial integrity protections, primarily through audits, investigations and compliance assistance efforts.” Notably, the OLMS is slated to release the much-anticipated persuader regulations.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would receive an additional $13 million (for a total of $565 million) in funding for FY 2015. Approximately $21 million of this allocation would be used to enforce the various whistleblowing statutes under OSHA’s authority.

National Labor Relations Board

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) would receive approximately $366 million, up slightly from the prior year’s request ($364 million). According to the budget request, “the priority for agency resources continues to be litigating systemic cases and maintaining a manageable inventory of cases.”

More information on the FY 2015 budget can be found here.

This was originally published on Littler Mendelson’s D.C. Employment Law Update blog© 2014 Littler Mendelson. All Rights Reserved. Littler®, Employment & Labor Law Solutions Worldwide® and ASAP® are registered trademarks of Littler Mendelson, P.C.