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HR Policy Briefing 10/7/20


SHRM Launches #HRVotes

This week, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) launched #HRVotes, a new campaign to help elevate the voice of HR. As we approach Nov. 3, SHRM wants to ensure that everyone has access to the resources and information necessary to vote on Election Day.

By visiting SHRM’s #HRVotes webpage or by texting HRVotes to 52886, you can:

  • Register to vote.
  • Check your voter registration status.
  • Find the candidates running for office in your district.
  • Find all your state’s voting information, including important deadlines, COVID-19 guidance and more.
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The 2020 election will shape the future of workplace policy. It is essential to encourage others to participate in the election process and vote on Nov. 3. Share #HRVotes on social media, and tag @SHRM and @SHRMAdvocacy. Visit or text HRVotes to 52886 today to access voter resources.

2020 Presidential Debates Workplace Policy Word Search

You saw it for yourself last week: Workplace issues are emerging during the 2020 debate season. Join us for a second round of the SHRM Workplace Policy Word Search tonight to see if this trend continues.

Here’s how you can participate:

  • Download the Workplace Policy Word Search.
  • Find the words while you wait for the debate to start.
  • Watch the vice presidential debate.
  • Check the box every time a workplace word in the search is mentioned during the debate.
  • Share your completed word search with SHRM by e-mailing a photo to [email protected], tweeting your photo to @SHRMAdvocacy or tagging us on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.
  • Follow @SHRM and @SHRMAdvocacy during the debate to learn more about workplace issues.
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White House Issues Executive Order on Diversity Training

On Sept. 22, 2020, the White House issued an executive order titled “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” expanding a ban on racial sensitivity training to federal contractors. The executive order also directs the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance to issue a request for information within 30 days of the order seeking information from federal contractors, subcontractors and employees regarding their diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) training and programs.

While SHRM does not read the executive order to prohibit DE&I training, its language may make it more difficult for government employers and government contractors to offer the trainings they deem appropriate for their workforces. The executive order is anticipated to be fully implemented for new federal contracts after 60 days. Looking ahead, the executive order is likely to be subject to legal challenge, and it is possible the order could be delayed, enjoined or invalidated.

SHRM believes employers should offer DE&I training. As such, SHRM has been in direct contact with the administration and the U.S. Department of Labor advocating for public policy that supports and encourages effective DE&I training in the workplace, including the federal government.

SHRM Celebrates HBCU Week

One of SHRM’s key initiatives is E2–education and employment. The education pipeline is critical to the future of the workforce. Therefore, we invest time and resources in a number of higher-education initiatives that will build closer connections between the education and employment communities.

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For the past three years, SHRM has supported National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Week by participating as a supporter and hosting panels at the National HBCU Week Conference. The 2020 Virtual National HBCU Week Conference included a panel discussion, “Cultivating Emerging Talent for the Workplace,” moderated by Emily M. Dickens, SHRM’s head of government affairs. She was joined by SHRM employees Kim McNeill, a SHRM HR knowledge advisor, and Gloria Sinclair Miller, field services director.

Democracy Awards Virtual Ceremony

This week, Emily Dickens awarded U.S. Reps. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., the Life in Congress Workplace Environment Award from the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF). CMF created a distinctive honors program—the Democracy Awards—to recognize nonlegislative achievements and exceptional performance in congressional offices and by members of Congress.

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SHRM is a sponsor of the Democracy Awards and believes strong leadership and commitment to a positive workplace culture is essential because better workplaces create a better world.

SHRM Files Comment with the NLRB

On Sept. 28, SHRM filed a comment on the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on “Representation-Case Procedures: Voter List Contact Information; Absentee Ballots for Employees on Military Leave.”

On Jul. 28, the NLRB issued the proposed rule, which would amend provisions of the National Labor Relations Act to do the following:

  1. Eliminate employers’ obligation to provide, as part of the board’s voter list requirement, available personal e-mail addresses and available home and personal cellphone numbers of all eligible voters.
  2. Provide for absentee mail ballots for employees who are on military leave.

In the comment, SHRM supported protecting the privacy rights of employees and granting all military service members the right to take part in the workplace election process.

Federal Judge Halts Ban on Nonimmigrant Visas

On Oct. 1, Judge Jeffrey White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction against President Trump’s June 22 nonimmigrant visa ban. The ban would have suspended visas for many temporary skilled workers and their families, regardless of their country of origin.

The ruling, issued in National Association of Manufacturers v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (NAM v. DHS), will apply to members of the plaintiff organizations: the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and TechNet, as well as individuals sponsored by those organizations.

The injunction will remain in place until the case is resolved.

Questions Remain
It is unclear whether the ban will be extended to other impacted parties through the Department of State’s anticipated guidance. Additionally, the government may seek a stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

SHRM filed an amicus brief in NAM v. DHS that expressed the concerns of J-visa beneficiaries and participants of the U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program.

USCIS Fee Rule Did Not Go into Effect on Oct. 2, Judge Issues Injunction

On Sept. 29, federal Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California granted a motion for a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fee rule. The rule would increase fees on businesses, new citizens, international students needing work authorization and others. The fees were scheduled to go into effect Oct. 2.

Ruling Highlights

  • The injunction on the fee rule is based on both Administrative Procedure Act violations and the Department of Homeland Security’s failure to comply with the requirements for filling a vacancy at the secretary level.
  • It is uncertain how quickly the government will appeal.
  • It is unclear how long the injunction will be in place. However, the injunction is valid until the legal proceedings are complete and a final decision is issued.

“The ruling means that for the time being, USCIS fees will remain where they’ve been for the last four years and, above all, that the most drastic of the increases will not go into effect and may be moderated going forward,” said Leon Rodriguez, former USCIS director and partner at Seyfarth Shaw. “At the same time, we remain without a transparent path to resolve the USCIS budgetary challenges that nearly led to a furlough and the continued inflation of USCIS processing times. Unfortunately, it remains unclear whether USCIS will be able to operate with reasonable efficiency and put forth a fair and viable fee structure.”

Congress Approves Funding Bill, Extending E-Verify, Increasing USCIS Premium Fees

On Oct. 1, President Donald Trump signed into law a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding of the federal government through Dec. 11, averting a government shutdown. There are certain provisions of interest to SHRM members within the CR, including a funding extension of the E-Verify system, as well as an increase in USCIS premium processing fees.

The funding measure extends the E-Verify employment eligibility program through Dec. 11. Additionally, the legislation grants USCIS the authority to increase premium processing fees for fast-tracked visa applications from the current $1,000 to $2,500 for each application. The bill also allows for the expansion of petitions that USCIS may process and the increase of fees every two years based on inflation.

Advancing Workplace Issues in 2020

SHRM is proud to be working with several organizations to highlight workplace issues in 2020. They include AARP, Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, Fakhoury Global Immigration USA PC, Fratelli Group, Mylan, NAICU, Palladian Hill Strategies, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Tulane University Law School.


SHRM Files Amicus in Nichols v. Kentucky

On Sept. 30, SHRM filed an amicus brief in Nichols v. Kentucky. In Nichols, the Kentucky Unemployment Insurance Commission challenged a lower court ruling that would invalidate a statute permitting representatives who are not lawyers to stand for employers in administrative hearings for unemployment-insurance benefits.

The brief highlighted the role HR professionals have traditionally held in unemployment-benefits hearings. SHRM was joined by the National Federation of Independent Business, Kentucky SHRM and other amici.

California Legislative Update

Sept. 30 marked the deadline for California Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign into law or veto legislation that the state legislature sent to his desk.

One significant piece of legislation that the governor signed was AB 1281, a bill supported by SHRM and CalSHRM. The bill extends by one year the clarification that the definition of “consumer” under the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) excludes individuals whose personal information has been collected by a business in the course of their activities for the business as an employee, a contractor or a job applicant.

The current definition of CCPA could be read to apply to Californians even in their capacity as employees. SHRM is concerned that this could have unintended consequences. For instance, an employee accused of sexual harassment could request that complaints be removed from company files pursuant to the protections under the CCPA. SHRM believes findings of workplace harassment should be preserved in employee records.

Additionally, SHRM noted that HR professionals would not want individuals to delete other important employee information in relation to personnel files or health benefits, or for other employment purposes. The governor agreed with SHRM’s point of view, and the clarification will be extended until Jan. 1, 2022.

SHRM will continue to actively advocate SHRM members’ positions on workplace legislation introduced in California. For questions on any piece of California legislation, please contact Jason Gabhart, SHRM’s director of state affairs, California, at [email protected].

SHRM Celebrates HR Professionals Day

On Sept. 26, SHRM recognized HR Professionals Day and the impact that HR leaders have on work, workers and workplaces around the world. SHRM’s research shows that 87 percent of HR professionals surveyed reported that their work has been especially crucial to their employer since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Read the blog post from Sean Sullivan, SHRM’S CHRO, on the how 2020 marks the Year of HR.

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C. Mitch Taylor Talks About HR Best Practices on Rebel HR Podcast


C. Mitch Taylor, SHRM’s director of public policy, recently participated in a podcast with Kyle Roed of Rebel HR to discuss SHRM’s partnership with Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), inclusion efforts during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and the future of talent acquisition and retention.

EEOC Confirmations

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Keith Sonderling, Andrea Lucas and Jocelyn Samuels to serve as commissioners on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Sonderling, deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, was confirmed Sept. 22. Lucas, an employment attorney, was also confirmed Sept. 22. The Senate confirmed Samuels, a civil rights attorney, on Sept. 23.

Visit SHRM’s Election Resources Center

SHRM’s Election Resources Center, updated regularly, helps inform you and your organization about the candidates’ platforms, current federal and state races, and the remaining debate of the 2020 election cycle, including:

  • Get Out the Vote resources to elevate the voter voice through the ballot box, as well as information about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting elections in your state and how you can vote safely.
  • An overview of the presidential candidates and their platforms as they relate to workplace public policy.
  • Insights into the 2020 congressional and state gubernatorial races.
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SHRM believes in the power of policy, not politics, to support solutions that benefit workers and the workplace—regardless of party affiliation.

Visit the SHRM Election Resources Center to stay informed and ready to vote on Nov. 3. The 2020 elections will shape the future of workplace policy. Now more than ever, the voice of HR must be heard.

SHRM Highlights HR Resiliency

HR professionals have played a critical role in leading their organizations through some of the toughest workplace challenges they’ve ever faced. Public officials now need to hear from HR professionals about how they are adapting to new challenges, adjusting business practices and providing innovative solutions for the world of work.

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We want to hear from you. Tell us how your organization has been resilient.

International Labor Organization’s Report on COVID-19 and the World of Work

The International Labor Organization (ILO) released the sixth edition of its monitor report, focusing on COVID-19 and its effects on the world of work and including new and updated global data and analysis.

The report highlights devastating losses in working hours, causing a massive drop in labor income for workers around the world. However, Guy Ryder, ILO director general, explains that effective fiscal stimulus plans are offering some hope. Visit the ILO website to read the full report