[October 4, 2013] Many employers may have questions about the operational status of federal agencies and courts during the ongoing shutdown of the federal government. Some current information of interest to employers is summarized below:
- Department of Labor (“DOL”): Most DOL offices, including the Employment and Training Administration (“ETA”) and the Wage and Hour Division, have suspended their operations. Therefore, such matters as Labor Condition Applications, Prevailing Wage Determinations, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, and Applications for Permanent Employment Certification will not be accepted or processed during the shutdown. However, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs will continue to process certain types of benefits claims.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”): The EEOC will continue to accept and process charges but will not investigate cases during the shutdown. All mediations and federal sector hearings will be cancelled, and FOIA requests will not be processed. Also, EEOC staff will not be available to answer questions or provide assistance to the public.
- Federal Courts: Currently, the federal courts remain open. However, the federal judiciary will reassess the situation if the shutdown continues through October 15, 2013.
- National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”): As all but a handful of the NLRB’s employees have been furloughed due to the shutdown, the agency’s regional offices have been closed, and the NLRB is not processing unfair labor practice (“ULP”) or representation cases. Most filing deadlines will be tolled while the shutdown continues. However, since the NLRB may not have the authority to extend the statutory six-month limitations period for filing ULP charges, the agency has recommended that ULP charges be faxed to regional offices if necessary to ensure compliance with the six-month filing requirement.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”): Because USCIS is funded by user fees (rather than appropriations), the agency is continuing to operate. However, the E-Verify employment eligibility confirmation system is unavailable during the shutdown. Employers enrolled in the E-Verify program will be given additional time to create E-Verify records and resolve Tentative Non-Confirmations once the system becomes operational again.
Employers should be aware that this information may be subject to change, particularly if the shutdown is prolonged. Thus, employers should closely monitor further developments in these areas.