LUBBOCK, Texas (CN) – A federal judge has permanently enjoined the U.S. Department of Labor’s new “persuader” rule, agreeing with business groups and 10 states that requiring employers to share the identities of anti-union consultants infringes on attorney-client privilege.
U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment Wednesday and issued a permanent injunction.
Cummings granted a preliminary injunction in June, concluding that the Labor Department’s treating “advice” and persuasive activities as mutually exclusive renders the rule “entirely superfluous.”
“Indeed, DOL improperly reads an exception into the statute’s advice exemption that is not there, treating it as exempting all advice except advice that has an object to persuade,” Cummings wrote in June. “Because DOL’s new interpretation violates basic canons of statutory interpretation, this court rejects it.”
The National Federation of Independent Business and four other business groups sued the Secretary of Labor in Federal Court on March 31, challenging the “persuader advice exemption.”
Texas and nine other states intervened two months later, claiming the change made it “more difficult and expensive” for small businesses to get legal advice.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the permanent injunction, saying the Obama administration has tried to “chisel away at the rule of law unceasingly” for eight years.
“Attorney-client privilege is a sacred part of our adversarial system and cannot be undermined merely to advance the political interests of organized labor,” Paxton said in a statement. “The Obama administration would do well to remember today’s ruling before it tries again to assert control where it doesn’t belong.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the injunction protects employers’ speech rights in the workplace.
“This is another one of the many actions taken by this administration that undermined our country’s rulemaking processes by enacting regulations that were never authorized by Congress,” he said in a statement. “As the current administration’s term comes to an end, it is rewarding to see the courts continue to justify our ongoing fight to uphold the rule of law.”