With the Government Shut Down, It’s Employers Gone Wild

Employers, today is officially your get out of jail free.

List of US Agencies Impacting Employers During Government Shut Down

With this being the first day of the United States government shut down due to budget cuts, the governing agencies for many of our workplace laws are closed, not open and therefore unable to take your calls. For employers this means for a quiet workplace or the potential for desks on fire, but let’s be honest, this is just like any other day except with less traffic if you are in Washington DC.

– EEOC. Over 2,100 of their staff are not reporting today. They are unable to function and running lean with just a staff of 107 who are field representatives and responsible for investigating claims.

– DOL. Our friends at the Department of Labor are also impacted. They are a very large division with over 16,000 employees. Less than 3,000 are expected to report to work today. This group oversees HR and workplace topics like worker’s compensation and the OFCCP. Their mobile app where employees can report DOL violations appears to be in working order.

– OSHA. The governing body that oversees safety at work is operating at a full shut down. Only 2 of their 58 employees are expected to work. Don’t go committing unsafe workplace acts just yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that this group is just like the EEOC with field representatives still investigating claims.

– NLRB. One governing body that I’m not sad about with regard to the shutdown is the NLRB. They’ve been under a great deal of pressure lately especially with the belief that griping about your boss on social media is considered concerted protected activity.

– USCIS. Employers are required to verify identification of new employees within 72 hours of hire using a government I-9 form. Unfortunately, those employers who are government contractors and are required to use e-verify are left out in the cold. Once the shutdown is no more, employers better be prepared to e-verify like crazy because I see field representatives making a few unscheduled visits and some big fines possibly coming your way. Working in HR, I’m paranoid like that.

– US Courts. These are open for the first ten days of the shut down. I don’t want to consider the implications for current court cases that are on the docket for our employment laws especially since our courts system always acts swiftly and with urgency anyway. <insert sarcasm here>

Are Employers Required to Follow Laws During the Government Shutdown?

For employees, today is the day that some crazy manager will think because the government has shut down, it’s totally acceptable to be an udder and complete ass which isn’t against the law technically unless they are selectively being an ass to someone who is a protected class. Employers, bosses, managers and business must continue to follow current employment laws during the government shutdown. We also have to continue to do things like pay taxes, follow the speed limit and use our turn signals to make lanes changes. Today is not your boss’s get out free card to violate laws, discriminate or commit unfair labor practices. It’s just like any other day just without the fancy government elevator hold music when you call the White House.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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