December 13, 2013
This week, the Senate confirmed EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum to a second term and is likely to also soon confirm Boston University Professor David Weil, President Obama's controversial nominee to head the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, which enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act. At a hearing on the Weil nomination this week, Ranking Republican Lamar Alexander (R-TN) zeroed in on Weil's advocacy of the "strategic" enforcement of labor laws in particular industry sectors viewed by the Department as being at risk of labor law violations, as opposed to primarily relying on complaints from employees. Sen. Alexander noted this "focuses on pre-conceived targets set in Washington rather than being responsive to breaches of the law." He also attacked Weil's suggestion of encouraging compliance among franchisees by targeting a parent corporation broadly. Alexander observed: "The franchising industry has been an incredible engine of economic growth" that has "created hundreds of thousands of successful small businesses, many of them owned by people who started in minimum wage jobs." If confirmed, Weil would be the first confirmed head of the Wage and Hour Division under President Obama, after two previous nominees withdrew their names. Commissioner Feldblum was confirmed to a five-year term by a vote of 54 to 41, with Republicans Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joining all Democrats present in voting for her.