After pushing through a tax law that will cause a dramatic transfer of wealth to the richest individuals and largest corporations, the Trump administration is now evidently seeking to take more money out of the pockets of ordinary Americans. In particular, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) plans to reverse a rule the agency adopted in 2011 to update the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. The 2011 rule has provided vital security to employees by protecting the tips they earn so employers cannot take that money.
According to an internal analysis by the DOL, the plan to end the 2011 rule will cause employees to lose billions of dollars in earned compensation in the form of tips. Rather than reconsider ending the rule, the DOL has attempted to hide the transfer of billions of dollars from employees to their employers as a result of terminating the 2011 rule. Specifically, the DOL’s political leadership ordered DOL staff to change the math somehow to create the impression of a less drastic economic impact on employees.
Even before the rollback on wage protections, the Trump administration’s DOL did corporate America another favor by withdrawing guidance on employee misclassification as independent contractors and joint employer law. In this way, the Trump administration has sought to make it harder for plaintiffs to pursue wage theft claims through class actions, collective actions, and otherwise. The effort to thwart meaningful enforcement of the rule of law should not succeed, however, because the core legal standards remain the same.