On April 10, President Obama unveiled his $3.78 trillion proposed budget for FY2014. The proposed budget included funding increases for several agencies charged with administering and enforcing the nation’s major labor and employment laws.
For the Department of Labor (DOL), the President proposed $12.1 billion in discretionary funding in FY2014, up from $12 billion in FY2013. The Wage and Hour Division (WHD), which is tasked with administering and enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is pegged to receive $243.3 million, an increase of $3.4 million over FY2013, with $5.8 million of this amount allocated to develop a new case management system so that WHD could better target its investigations. And, $14 million was allocated for the DOL’s ongoing misclassification initiative, which aims to combat the practice of employers classifying employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying minimum wages.
For the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency responsible for administering and enforcing employment discrimination laws such as Title VII, the President proposed funding of $373 million in FY2014, up from $360 million in FY2013. This was based on a projection that the EEOC would have a case inventory of 73,902 charges as of September 30, 2013, and 80,575 charges as of September 30, 2014, both increases from the 70,312 pending charges as of September 30, 2012. In its budget justification, EEOC Chair Jacqueline Berrien praised the agency’s efforts in securing roughly $365 million in monetary benefits for individuals who were allegedly subject to discrimination in FY2012—the largest total in history.
For the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency charged with administering and enforcing the National Labor Relations Act, the President proposed funding of $285 million in FY2014, up from $280 million for FY2013. This was based on a projection that the NLRB would receive 21,7000 unfair labor practice charges and 2,700 representation cases in FY2014, only a slight increase from the 21,629 charges and 2,646 representation cases filed in FY2012.
President Obama’s proposed increases reflect his administration’s continuing emphasis on protecting workers’ rights. His proposed allocation for the NLRB is especially telling, as it reflects the President’s willingness to invest significant resources in the agency despite its rapidly declining caseload. The President’s focus on wage and hour investigations is also significant for employers who may not be fully compliant with the FLSA. Of course, this budget plan is merely a proposal and is subject to approval by Congress. Whether these budget proposals will ultimately impact agency enforcement policies remains to be seen, and we will keep you informed if and when important developments arise.