MSCI, Coalition Partners Challenge Regulation That Threatens Employer Free Speech Rights
Last week the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), a 600-member coalition of employers that MSCI is part of, filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging a U.S. Department of Labor’s rule that changes reporting requirements for so-called “persuader” agreements.
According to a CDW statement issued after the lawsuit was filed, in publishing this unconstitutionally vague rule, DOL has ignored the clear language of the underlying statute, the procedural requirements Congress imposed on agency rulemaking and the thousands of comments submitted by small businesses and other stakeholders.
The Coalition also argued the rule is unfair and unnecessary. For example, employers already have to report when they hire consultants to speak with employees, so any additional requirements are simply redundant. The department’s new rule also will make it harder for employers to lawfully communicate with employees about unions and other workforce issues, a fact that deprives employers of their right to free speech under the First Amendment and the National Labor Relations Act. The “persuader” rule would also limit employees’ access to important information on a host of workplace issues, including on whether a union seeking to represent them is providing employees with all the facts.
Finally, CDW argued, the new rule fails to impose any transparency on the labor unions, which unbeknownst to employees regularly rely on high paid public relations firms and front groups to influence the employees’ views on their employer and the union itself.