Alex Acosta Proposes Rule Making it Harder for Workers to Sue Big Companies
Labor Secretary Alex Acosta introduced a proposal this week that would limit the ability of workers to sue big companies for violations made by franchises or contractors. The new regulation would make it harder for workers to sue companies like McDonald's for failing to comply with laws like those governing minimum wage or overtime pay. Instead, they’d be forced to sue the individual franchise. It’s a lot harder to extract money from a local franchise for violating labor rights than it is to get a settlement from an international corporation. Franchise restaurant owners often have relatively slim profit margins and are already unhappy about rising minimum wages. Acosta’s proposed rule will likely make big companies very happy. “This proposal will reduce uncertainty over joint employer status and clarify for workers who is responsible for their employment protections,” Acosta said in a statement. This would reverse the Obama-era policy that held big companies accountable for the violations of their franchisees and contractors. In other news, testifying before a House appropriations panel, Acosta was asked repeatedly about the 2008 non-prosecution agreement, which he negotiated when he was U.S. Attorney for southern Florida. The agreement resulted in Jeffrey Epstein pleading guilty in state court to two counts of felony prostitution and serving only 13 months of an 18-month sentence, with daily furloughs so Epstein could go to his office. Epstein has been accused of molesting scores of underage girls, some as young as 13, using a network of associates to lure them to his home. Acosta’s deal extended immunity to “any potential co-conspirators in the crimes,“ some of them still unidentified. Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) asked Acosta whether he could still lead the Labor Department in light of the controversy. Acosta, after sitting in stunned silence for several seconds, defended his position. “At the end of the day Mr. Epstein went to jail,” Acosta said. “Mr. Epstein was incarcerated, he registered as a sex offender, the world was put on notice that he was a sex offender, and the victims received restitution.” More on the labor policy here.