The Biden Administration has, and will continue, to bring significant policies and changes to the most pertinent employment laws. On April 27th, The New Orleans SHRM Chapter hosted a Legal Update seminar, moderated by our founder, Michelle Craig with Atoyia Harris from Proskauer Rose, Daisy Gurdián Kane from Ochsner Health, and Brendan Greene from Dillard University forming the panel. The seminar focused on providing HR managers tips on the current and upcoming changes, plus it provided guidance on how to prepare for them in their respective organizations.

The discussion covered an array of topics including the latest with covid and the vaccines, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives and implementing them across the organization, the “me-too” movement and its status, transgender rights, new employee-friendly federal departments, changes in the immigration laws, and equal pay issues that will be forthcoming. 

Additionally, as President Biden’s first 100 days draw to a close, we reflected upon the changes he’s already made, as well as changes we can expect to see in the future. Below are the highlights of what we discussed. 

Changes We’ve Already Seen

President Biden has nominated or replaced many Trump appointees throughout the government with people who are more in line with his administration. Already we’ve seen four new members of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as many other key roles in the Department of Labor and Department of Justice with nominees awaiting confirmation. Those members are aligned with Biden’s agenda which has been more pro-employee and more pro-labor. Additionally, BIden has issued several Executive Orders. A few of them include a focus on DEI training for government employees, immigration matters and the latest one, a focus on minimum wage in the federal sector. 

Pro-Labor Moves

It’s no secret that President Biden stands on a pro-labor platform, in significant contrast to the previous Administration. In the past, he has supported passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a piece of legislation considered by many to be a sweeping overhaul of federal labor law. However, whether it will pass Congress remains to be seen. He has also hired several appointees who have made employees’ rights priorities. 

Covid-Related Policies

Biden’s rollout time of the vaccine has quickened over the last few months. Most employers are excited about that and as a result, many companies have advanced their reopening plans. While Biden hasn’t spoken on whether employers should retain a remote or hybrid workforce, employees are speaking out. 

In a recent survey, around 1/3 of workers said they would look for a new job if their employers required them to return to the office full-time. And nearly half of respondents said they preferred a hybrid arrangement instead. Employers can expect the workforce to be permanently changed as a result of the covid-pandemic and it is possible that our employment law landscape may change while addressing those challenges. 

The Biden Administration’s Priorities

This administration has several priorities that impact employees and employers. They include the following:

  • Addressing the Department of Labor’s final rule on the classification of independent contractors reconstituting the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Increasing protections for workers and unions.
  • Narrowing the pay gap.
  • Changing the previous Administration’s immigration policies.
  • Addressing the previous Administration’s stance on diversity training.

Many of those priorities were addressed in the above-mentioned Executive Orders. We can expect them to continue to be addressed in ongoing policies as the Administration moves its agenda forward in the coming months. 

What Does This Mean For Businesses?

Across the board businesses should expect to see changes in laws and regulations that address their aforementioned priorities. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on changes to immigration and visas, changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, DEI matters, as well as COVID-related employment laws. 

In the meantime businesses need to prepare for the changing landscape. Employers should:

  • Keep abreast of the latest changes by the administration because we expect there to be a lot of them.
  • Stay in contact with your legal counsel so you can obtain advice and update your businesses policies as needed.
  • Start discussing DEI initiatives before a problem arises.
  • Improve employee engagement to re-engage your remote workforce as they return onsite.
  • Survey your workforce to determine where there are weaknesses in the Organization.
  • Once you identify the areas of opportunities, work with your CEO, COO and legal counsel to address them appropriately. 

Transcendent Law Group combines the best legal minds, the best business practices with the best technology to obtain the best results. Contact us today to learn more about how we help businesses across the gulf south!