President Trump recently announced that his choice for the new Secretary of Labor is Eugene Scalia. If that name sounds familiar, it is likely because he is the son of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Also an attorney, Eugene Scalia was a recess appointment as the top lawyer in the Labor Department under George W. Bush and also worked at the Department of Justice under Attorney General Barr during his first time in this role under George Bush, Sr.
Friendly to corporate America
Conservatives look at this choice as an improvement over Alex Acosta, who resigned amid the scandal of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s initial plea deal where Acosta was the prosecutor. More importantly, from a labor perspective, anti-labor conservatives were unhappy with the rate at which Acosta rolled back labor regulations drafted under President Obama.
Scalia has also worked in the private sector, often representing the interests of anti-union corporations like Walmart and others in pushing back on tougher labor laws and unions. In 2006, he successfully represented Walmart in a high-profile fight against Maryland law that would have required businesses with 10,000 or more workers to spend 8% of payroll costs on health care or to pay into the state’s Medicaid fund.
According to the New York Times, Scalia has also repeatedly spoken out against worker protections for repetitive stress injuries, calling the research on this matter “unreliable science.”
Impact here in California
State laws are obviously different from federal laws. However, the current administration will likely try to institute changes that would change labor policies at businesses of all types and sizes. Those with questions about changes or potential ones are advised to contact an employment law attorney to find out how these shifts will affect them.