Questionable federal probe crushing Michigan-based staffing company

The American Legal Record Podcast last week highlighted the interesting case of Forge Industrial Staffing, which is losing clients and workers thanks to a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) probe over bogus “child labor” allegations.

The podcast interviews John O’Brien, editor of Legal Newsline, who wrote this article about the DOL probe, which was spurred by an initial New York Times article about child labor allegations.

There are three troubling points to this investigation:

  • A girl alleging she was an underage worker lied about her age.
  • The DOL probe is being led by Acting Secretary Julie Su, whose nomination has been stalled in the U.S. Senate.
  • The DOL is insisting on doing on-site visits to Forge’s clients, which has caused a mass exodus of clients from Forge and led to company layoffs.

On the last two points, O’Brien told the podcast:

You couldn’t have a worse blow to your business relationship than the U.S. Department of Labor showing up at a company with which you have a contract. These companies are facing no investigation, no allegation, but now all of a sudden they’ll have Department of Labor investigators walking and looking through their plants.

So it’s very unfair to those clients. The damage to Forge is real. They made their case November 14th in response to a motion to enforce the subpoena filed in Grand Rapids Federal Court earlier this year and they have lost 17 clients already since the New York Times article came out and that totals $9.5 million in annual revenue.

Regarding “Acting Secretary” Su, the Biden Administration this summer decided to “move on” from her nomination as Secretary of Labor, as a result of failure to get the confirmation votes of Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).

The administration, however, is keeping Su on “indefinitely” as the acting secretary, a move which spurred Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to write to Biden:

If your administration believes Ms. Su cannot receive the necessary votes for confirmation, then you should rescind her nomination. Any attempts to bypass the will of Congress, especially its constitutionally mandated advice and consent role, is unacceptable.

Su is not only still acting as if she’s the confirmed secretary, she’s also apparently calling the shots in DOL’s crushing probe of Forge Industrial Staffing.

O’Brien told the podcast that court records show the DOL made an offer to Forge that it would end its efforts to visit Forge’s clients in exchange for Forge providing “packets of employee information, stuff from their applications, the actual IDs, stuff like that.”

Forge was ready to accept that offer when, O’Brien explained…

Six days later, an email comes in saying the acting secretary has taken the offer off the table.

So, in summary, an American company is losing clients and workers, thanks to the actions of a rejected cabinet nominee, using the powers of a federal agency acting in response to a story by the New York Times, about an alleged “child labor victim” who had actually falsified documentation about her age.

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