We are living through the most extended government shutdown in American history. Approximately 800,000 federal employees and 500,000 federal contractors have now gone without a paycheck, and there is no end in sight. Of the unpaid federal employees, more than 420,000 must continue working.
Federal employees are prohibited from undertaking partisan political activity while on duty, in the federal workplace or when invoking official authority. This is due to the Hatch Act, a 1939 law aimed at preventing undue interference in elections by federal employees. Bribery, intimidation and coercion of campaign contributions are prohibited by the Act, for example -- as is the use of federal resources for certain political activities, such as campaigning for a particular candidate or party.
The Trump administration's priority for the Department of Labor has been to eliminate regulations thought too costly for businesses to bear. In particular, the administration promised to change how wage and hour law is regulated in the U.S.
Now that Justice Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in, there is a full slate of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Their new term began Oct. 1, and the court jumped right in to hear oral arguments about an age discrimination case.
When we think about speech protections, we often think of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment only prohibits governmental actors from abridging freedom of speech, so it doesn't apply to private actors such as non-government employers. (The First Amendment does apply to government employers.)
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, covered employees are entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a single 12-month period. The leave can be used to care for a personal medical condition, to care for certain family members' serious health conditions, to bond with a new child or to deal with emergencies related to a family member's active duty military service. More leave is available to care for a military family member's illness or injury.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination against workers 40 and over. While the law prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, it is unclear whether the ADEA prohibits a certain type of discrimination called "disparate impact" discrimination in hiring. One federal court ruled that it does not. Now, a second federal court has ruled the opposite.