Roadblocks for Employers During the Government Shutdown
WHAT AGENCIES AND PROCESSES ARE UNAVAILABLE OR DELAYED THAT COULD AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS?
Unless you have given up watching TV, reading the newspaper or browsing online news articles as a New Year's resolution, you are well aware of the ongoing government shutdown and the many government employees who are either furloughed or working without a paycheck. While these employees and citizens who use government services are receiving the direct effects of this shutdown, employers are also affected in myriad ways.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) - If you are engaged in any ongoing disputes with employees who have filed claims with the EEOC, then your case is currently on-hold. Employers cannot file responses to the EEOC, nor will any previously scheduled investigative meetings or mediations take place at this time. The EEOC is closed due to the shutdown and is not providing any services during this period. It is important to note that the shutdown does not extend the time limits for claimants to file a charge of discrimination, so employers may still receive new charges once the shutdown is over. Until then, do not expect any communication from the EEOC.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - While the USCIS offices remain open during the government shutdown, and it is still conducting interviews and holding appointments as scheduled, there are some delays or services that are affected. USCIS also cautions that the time to process immigration applications and petitions could be longer than normal. Most notably for employers that are looking to hire new employees, the E-Verify site is not being monitored, so employers are unable to process the necessary information to confirm eligibility of new employees. Employers should still complete Form I-9 in accordance with the law and can submit information via E-Verify once the shutdown is over.
Government Contractors - Employers that have a contract with the federal government might forego one or more payments due to the shutdown, unless the employer contracted otherwise with the federal Government. Depending on the business structure, and the length of the shutdown, missing payments could turn in to missing paychecks for the employees. This dilemma highlights the importance for employers to know and understand what their contract says and to be prepared for risks in those contracts - like government shutdowns.
Department of Labor (DOL) - While the DOL is still up and running during the government shutdown, you may experience a delay in filing your H-2B visas. Due to the staggering number of applications for H-2B visa labor certifications in the first few minutes of 2019 (nearly 100,000), the system overloaded and caused an outage. While the DOL has worked to get the system back on track, employers should expect processing delays.
There are a number of departments and agencies that are unaffected by the shutdown and are running at full capacity. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) remains open and is running at full capacity despite the government shutdown. Unfair labor practice charges, representation, and other proceedings before the board should remain unaffected. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also unaffected by the government shutdown and will continue to enforce its regulations and prosecute citations.
If you have any questions regarding what you or your company should due if affected by the closure or delay by the above agencies or other issues arising out of the government shutdown, please contact your Thompson Coe attorney at (651) 389-5000 or at myHRgenius@thompsoncoe.com. You can also find additional information and tips for your company and HR professionals at https://myhrgenius.co.
Thompson Coe’s Tips of the Week are not intended as a solicitation, do not constitute legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.