The only relevant test of the validity of a hypothesis is comparison of prediction with experience.

So said the economist Milton Friedman.  At least the Internet says he said it. Must be true, right?

Anyways, before we turn the page to 2018, let’s take a look back at the predictions I laid out on January 2, 2017 for the employment law year. 

  • 2017 is going to be different. Very different it seems.  The USDOL nominee is an outgoing fast-food company CEO for starters.  He’ll bring a management perspective far different than the current administration.

Well, he didn’t last long. The DOL nominee never made it to the Department of Labor.  By February of 2017, he withdrew his name as a nominee.  Who would’ve predicted that?

But the replacement nominee came from a similar management-side background. As such, he’s brought the expected change to the department.  And not surprisingly, 2017 has been very different indeed for employment law.  No overtime rules and a slowing down of other rulemaking as well.

All in all, a modest prediction and mostly met.

  • The biggest change we’ll see will come from the appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.  Expect the appointees to be management-friendly and roll back several decisions and rulings from the NLRB.  Those decisions, however, may take some time to work through however.

Well, this was spot on.  Admitted, it’s somewhat easy to predict because the NLRB is a nakedly-partisan group. The decisions that come from the NLRB are more political than almost any other agency — and change from administration to administration.  The appointments have, as expected, been management-friendly.

Moreover, it took a good bit of time for those decisions to work through the system. Indeed, arguably it was only last week that we saw the first major shifts as we recounted in a blog post earlier this week.

For this prediction, I think I can declare this one a success.

  • Federal increases to minimum wage or federal legislation on things like paid sick leave or employment law protection based on gender identity or sexual orientation also seem unlikely.

This too, seems on target.  There’s been no major federal legislation in the employment law area to come out of Congress despite the Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate.   While I’ll save the 2018 predictions for another day, I think it’s safe to say that we should expect more of the same in 2018.  Prediction met.

  • What happens at the U.S. Supreme Court is still up in the air as well, though don’t be surprised to see a return of a union dues or “agency fees” case.

It took until September, but the full Supreme Court took up the “agency fees” case again.  The court had deadlocked on the issue in early 2016 so it’s not a huge surprise to see it come back.  Oral argument is now scheduled for late February 2018 and a decision is expected by June.  Again, met this prediction.

So, all in all, a fairly modest list with some decent success.

What will 2018 have in store? Stay tuned!

Barring some major developments (or an urge to write), this will likely be the last post for 2017 as well.  I wish you, your workplaces and your familes (your real ones, not your workplace ones) a safe and warm holiday season, and a Happy New Year.