One of the biggest successes of the Trump administration is in the area of job creation. Trump is creating opportunities for Americans regardless of their race, creed or color.
“My Administration is determined to give our citizens the opportunities they need regardless of age or background,” as Donald Trump put it in his State of the Union. “Through our Pledge to American Workers, over 400 companies will also provide new jobs and education opportunities to almost 15 million Americans.”
That is admirable, and an amazing success story. However, as it ensures that everyone gets a fair chance, the administration needs to be careful it doesn’t crack down on discrimination where there actually isn’t any.
For example, the Department of Labor is going overboard, hunting for discrimination where there isn’t any. Under the Obama administration, Labor began filing a series of nuisance lawsuits against high tech giants including Google, Oracle and Palantir.
This was part of a pattern. “The Obama Administration has used the Department of Labor and the NLRB to upend decades of legal precedent by issuing aggressive decisions and regulations,” as Rep. Bradley Byrne warned in 2016. “Sadly, these actions have put the interests of big labor bosses ahead of what is best for hardworking Americans.”
These particular lawsuits, filed through the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, were aimed at forcing the companies to hand over tons of data, even though investigators had no evidence of any discrimination.
In its suit against Oracle, Labor claimed that “Oracle refused to provide prior-year compensation data for all employees, complete hiring data for certain business lines, and employee complaints of discrimination.” All compensation information? All hiring information? It’s nothing more than a fishing expedition. Give us everything, the government is saying, and we’ll try to find a needle in the haystack.
The Trump administration cracked down on this sort of thing in 2017 by repealing a rule that, as The Heritage Foundation noted, “would have required companies with 100 or more workers to report detailed salary information to government bureaucrats by sex, race, job category, and other factors.”
This is exactly the sort of policy the administration is working to end. Yet for some reason, it has allowed these lawsuits, based on the same principle, to move ahead.
“The issue here — and what Oracle objects to — is the unlawful, agency-originated and agency-based administrative-enforcement and adjudicative regime to which Oracle and other government contractors are currently subject,” the company wrote in its response to the suit. It is correct in saying that. Only Congress may pass laws, and Congress never intended for the administration to be creating labor law.
In fact, all three of the cases were pure overreach, filed based on statistical analysis rather than evidence of discrimination. That’s become standard practice for Labor.
As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported in a detailed investigation in 2017, the Department of Labor often asks for a massive amount of information, often more than could even be provided in the timeframe it allows.
Chamber members have also noted that DOL will often:
- Inform a contractor that it was welcome to bring a matter before an administrative law judge, “but the judge works for us.”
- Tell employers “we can ask for anything we want.”
- Unilaterally set dates and times for on-site investigations without an invitation to discuss legal issues or trying to work with the employer’s schedule.
It’s clear that some bureaucrats are more interested in playing “gotcha” politics than in rooting out actual discrimination.
All three of these lawsuits should have been withdrawn as soon as Trump took office. Instead, he’s allowed them to move forward for more than three years. The president should take steps to control his own Labor Department. Doing so would also help him boost employment and keep his promise to protect American workers.
It is time for the Trump administration to stop these silly lawsuits that run contrary to the policies that have accelerated the U.S. economy’s growth over the past three years.
Michael Busler, Ph.D., is a public policy analyst and a professor of finance at Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in finance and economics. He has written op-ed columns in major newspapers for more than 35 years. @mbusler www.facebook.com/fundingdemocracy