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Trump Worker Bias Rule Gets Rare Challenge From Hill Democrats

March 23, 2021, 9:26 PM

The chairs of the Senate and House labor committees moved to repeal a rule governing how employers can resolve workplace bias claims, in what appears to be Democrats’ first attempt since regaining control of the Senate to undo a regulation imposed toward the end of the Trump administration.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) filed resolutions to disapprove the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s so-called conciliation rule under the Congressional Review Act. The law allows Congress to strike last-minute regulations if both chambers approve it.

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans repealed more than a dozen Obama administration regulations at the beginning of his presidency under the law.

The EEOC regulation mandated the agency turn over more data about its determination that an employer discriminated against a worker in the conciliation process, which is offered as an alternative to litigation.

The EEOC’s five-member leadership panel finalized the rule in January and published it in the Federal Register before Biden’s inauguration.

The initiative, proposed by Trump-nominated former EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon, drew praise in January from employer representatives seeking more transparency from the agency and criticism from workers’ rights groups concerned about businesses potentially gaining an unfair advantage at the negotiating table.

When the EEOC paused Trump-era rules to comply with a White House order to halt any pending regulations, the agency said the final conciliation rule would take effect as planned, on Feb. 16.

“The Conciliation Rule harms workers and undercuts enforcement of workplace civil rights laws,” EEOC spokesperson Christine Nazer said. “Overturning this rule through the Congressional Review Act would strengthen the federal government’s ability to protect civil rights.”

The process of rolling back effective regulations generally requires either a time-consuming rulemaking effort or, for more recently-issued rules, Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval under the CRA.

To contact the reporters on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com; Courtney Rozen in Washington at crozen@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at bkohn@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com