Legislation & Lobbying
Banner Year for Labor Law Expected in 2009
Posted Sep 4, 2008 3:06 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Regardless of who wins the November presidential election, it is expected to result in a lot of work for employment lawyers.
Experts predict an "onslaught of legislation" related to employment after the election, creating numerous new rules and potential pitfalls that corporations will have to get up to speed on, reports Human Resource Executive in a lengthy cover story this month.
Even if Barack Obama doesn't win the White House, Congress is likely to be controlled by Democrats, who are already teeing up new labor bills. And, if Obama does win, it could mean the biggest change in employment law since Ronald Reagan was president, in the 1980s, the magazine says.
One potential piece of legislation, in particular, could make a huge difference to employers. It is the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow workers to establish a union without a secret-ballot election. The bill passed the House of Representatives in 2007, but stalled in the Senate. If it gains Democrats in November's elections, though, the bill could become law.
"This is the potential generational change in our labor laws," says Michael Lotito, a San Francisco partner in Jackson Lewis, a national boutique that represents employers. "Nothing in my lifetime, including the Civil Rights Act of 1991, would change our labor and employment laws as dramatically as EFCA would."
Other employment-related areas in which significant legislative changes are likely, the magazine says, include ergonomics, immigration and heath care (possible new laws could encourage younger workers to opt out of employer medical plans). A provision in the Civil Rights Act of 2008 also would strike down caps on compensatory and punitive damages in discrimination cases.