Trump to Nominate Eugene Scalia as Labor Secretary

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

July 19, 2019

President Trump has said he will nominate Eugene Scalia, son of the late former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to be the next Secretary of Labor. Scalia is a management-side labor and employment attorney with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, DC, and served as the US Department of Labor's solicitor (its top lawyer) under President George W. Bush.

The appointment matters because Scalia has clashed with unions and employee rights groups in his career and is seen as more likely to push for rolling back protections for workers than his predecessor, Alex Acosta, who resigned.

While representing Walmart, Scalia helped the company win its battle to block a Maryland law that would have required companies with 10,000 or more employees to spend 8 percent of their payroll costs on health care or else pay into a state Medicaid fund. Walmart had hired Scalia to try to fend off lawsuits that accused the nation's largest retailer of illegally firing corporate whistleblowers.

Scalia also has dismissed any connection between repetitive motion and physical injuries suffered by workers, questioning the science behind ergonomics. In a Cato Institute article, he wrote, "Some of the world's leading medical researchers deny that repetitive motion causes injury."

In addition, he represented Boeing in its successful effort to open an assembly plant in South Carolina over union objections.

A battle over Scalia's nomination likely looms in the Senate. When President Bush nominated Scalia to serve as the USDOL's top lawyer, Democrats blocked the nomination, and he was forced to serve as a temporary recess appointment.