Labor Secretary Hilda Solis testifies Wednesday before the House Education and Workforce Committee, a hearing entitled “Policies and Priorities at the U.S. Department of Labor.”
One useful line of inquiry might pursue the Department of Labor’s deal with the American Bar Association to farm out employee complaints that come to the Department to contingency-fee attorneys. Questions might include:
- President Obama has left in force President Bush’s Executive Order No. 13433, “Protecting American Taxpayers From Payment of Contingency Fees.” That order specified that “no agency shall enter into a contingency fee agreement for legal or expert witness services.” Can you please explain to me why this new arrangement does not violate that executive order. Should the president repeal that executive order?
- Explain, if you would, how exactly the attorneys are selected for this referral service. What percentage fee of the awards will the attorneys be working for? Please provide me a list of the attorneys who are serving in this capacity. Do you intend for their arrangements with clients to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act?
- How does it improve the business climate or encourage employers to hire new workers if the Department of Labor refers lawsuits against business to outside, contingency-fee attorneys? Can you understand why employers might be upset that your agency is serving as a referral service for trial lawyers?
We wrote about the White House’s embrace of this trial lawyer referral service last week in two posts, “What about the Executive Order Barring Contingency Fee Lawyers?” and “Department of Labor: Working the Phones for Contingency Lawyers.”