The US Department of Labor’s chief administrative law judge (ALJ) issued a supplemental administrative order on April 10, extending the suspension of in-person hearings before the Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ). The supplemental order, issued in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, also extends several procedural deadlines but modifies the hold on issuing decisions. As we reported, the chief ALJ suspended all OALJ hearings and certain procedural deadlines in his March 19 order. The chief ALJ’s March 19 order and its deadlines remain in effect until May 15. The supplemental order extends the deadlines beyond May 15, as follows.
In-Person OALJ Hearings Suspended; Telephonic/Video Hearings Allowed
All OALJ hearings, including telephonic hearings, remain suspended until May 15. Under the supplemental order, all in-person hearings are further suspended until July 24, and the earliest in-person hearings will be scheduled is July 27. Hearings now scheduled between May 15 and July 24 will be rescheduled by the presiding ALJ.
Under the supplemental order, parties may now petition the presiding ALJ to conduct a telephonic, video, or other remote hearing in cases before July 27. The parties may also jointly petition for a decision on the written record.
Suspension of OALJ Procedural Deadlines is Extended Until June 1
All time limitations and procedural deadlines in cases currently pending before the OALJ are further tolled and suspended until June 1, unless otherwise ordered by the presiding ALJ. New procedural deadlines will be calculated from June 1, 2020, or by a separate order issued by the presiding ALJ.
This suspension of deadlines does not apply to cases not yet docketed, and so requests for a hearing must be filed within 30 days from receipt of the Secretary’s findings as required by 29 CFR 24.106.
Mediation and Settlement Conferences
OALJ will not hold in-person mediation or settlement judge conferences until at least July 24. However, telephone mediations and settlement judge conferences can be conducted on the consent of all parties.
Email Filings Still Encouraged
Until further notice, OALJ will accept and encourages all parties to file papers by email using the email addresses provided in the administrative order. OALJ now has an email filing web portal with instructions and email addresses for its national and district offices. Email filings should not exceed 50 pages (25 pages for the Boston office) without permission of the presiding ALJ.
Hold on OALJ Decisions is Modified
The March 19 order placed a hold on the OALJ’s issuance of orders until April 15. The supplemental order modifies that hold. Beginning April 16, OALJ will issue decisions on a regular basis and serve a copy of the decision on the parties by email, unless OALJ does not have the email address of all parties or the presiding ALJ determines that a party would be prejudiced in their ability to comply with the decision or exercise their appellate rights.
We will continue to follow this issue for any updates or additional orders.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force
For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold.