Walberg, Kline demand documents from Dept of Labor on oversight inquiry

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) ramped up pressure on the Department of Labor (DOL) to release documents pertaining to an oversight investigation by the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

Reports emerged in 2015 about an internal DOL draft memorandum that outlined criteria to determine when an employer is jointly liable for the workplace safety and health violations of another employer under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.

The concern is that the draft joint employer investigatory tool would require OSHA inspectors to examine workplace issues that fall outside their expertise, as opposed to focusing on worker safety.

Walberg, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and U.S. Rep.John Kline (R-MN), the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, first requested documents pertaining to the draft memorandum in October 2015.

In November 2015, DOL officials denied that new OSHA joint employer policies were being considered in a two-page response. However, they failed to comply with Kline and Walberg’s request to supply all responsive documents.

DOL officials have released 1,501 pages of redacted documents to date and offered to supply all responsive documents in a private meeting so long as certain conditions are met.

“From the department’s initial two-page response through its latest revelation that there are an additional 3,300 pages of yet-unproduced responsive documents, the committee has patiently shown good faith throughout this inquiry,” Kline and Walberg wrote in a recent letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.

More than a year later, the department still has not produced all responsive documents, the congressmen said, adding, “The department has provided no legal justification for these failures.”

In response to concern from DOL officials that providing all responsive documents would jeopardize the privacy of individuals, Kline and Walberg agreed to accept the documents with personal information redacted.

If the DOL fails to produce responsive documents by Nov. 4, the letter concludes, the committee will be forced to consider “compulsory process to compel production.”