This week we are pleased to have a guest post from Jennifer L. Shanley, a member of Robinson+Cole’s Immigration Group. Her preparation of temporary and permanent immigration petitions allow manufacturing, chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies, including some Fortune 100 companies, to retain key business people, scientists, researchers, and other professionals.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), along with several prominent business organizations, filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) regulations governing the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program that would disrupt manufacturers’ ability to hire and retain critical high-skilled talent.

By way of background DHS announced an interim final rule that revises the definition of H-1B specialty occupation to include the requirement of a specific relationship between the required degree field(s) and the duties of the offered position. It also restricts eligibility for the program in several additional ways, including requiring employers to provide contracts, work orders, itineraries or similar evidence to prove employer-employee relationship when sending H-1B workers to third party worksites, ultimately providing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the ultimate discretion on who meets the definition of employer and employee. The other rule issued by the Department of Labor increased the wage floor companies are required to pay employees to historically high rates.
Continue Reading Manufacturers Fighting Disruptive Immigration Reform

Thank you to my colleague, Jonathan Schaefer, for his contributions to this post. Jon focuses his practice on environmental compliance counseling, occupational health and safety, permitting, site remediation, and litigation related to federal and state regulatory programs.

Since at least March, manufacturers, and the entire U.S. economy, have been experiencing unprecedented conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has not only changed where and how manufacturers operate, but also safety protocols across the board.

It will likely come as no surprise to any manufacturer, that since February there has been a significant increase in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) caseload. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently found that this increased caseload has resulted in the average number of days to close an investigation to increase 41 days (279 versus 238) since the OIG’s last audit.
Continue Reading Significant Increase in OSHA Whistleblower Complaints and Caseloads Due to COVID-19

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused widespread property damage and flooding, and some manufacturers may not be able to reopen their businesses for several months. To assist followers of this blog, I have set out below a few of questions which manufacturers have asked in the last few weeks. I have also set out links to the United States Department of Labor’s FACT SHEETS, which are an excellent source of information. Keep in mind that state laws may require a different answer than those below, which are based on federal law. Before taking action, manufacturers should have a quick conversation with the lawyer of their choice.
Continue Reading Hurricanes Force Manufacturers to Consider Impact on Employees

Manufacturers should take note of two recent developments in the human resources world.  One expected.  The other not.

Frequent readers of this blog may recall that in January I predicted the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) would make good on its goal of updating the “Persuader Rule.”

By way of background, the Persuader Rule

With the new year comes a new focus on increasing criminal prosecutions against employers for worker safety violations.  In the end of December, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced a plan to deter workplace safety violations through more stringent criminal prosecution.  Under the new plan, the DOJ will work