by Max Brantley
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led a group of 10 attorneys general today in filing an amicus brief in Arkansas federal district court urging the court to grant the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Persuader Advice Exemption Rule, which forces disclosure of confidential communications between small businesses and their outside counsel in labor relations matters.
“For more than half a century, attorney-client communications relating to labor relations issues have been exempted from disclosure,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “However, the new Persuader Advice Exemption Rule would overturn this long-standing precedent. The Department of Labor’s extreme interpretation will require disclosure to the government of the legal advice being provided to business, large and small, on very sensitive matters such as union elections. I am proud to lead my colleagues in this effort and urge the court to enjoin this rule, which will hit small businesses disproportionately hard.”
Rutledge along with attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia are requesting that the court grant the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction of the department’s new rule until the conclusion of this litigation, saying, “Given the department’s own longstanding rule exempting attorney advice from disclosure, and the likelihood that the department’s new, radical adventure into areas of attorney-client confidence is in conflict with the governing Act, a preliminary injunction to preserve the status quo pending litigation is well justified, and is the best way to protect the public.”
The brief was filed in ABC v. Perez. Plaintiffs in this case include the Arkansas Hospitality Association; Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas; Associated Builders and Contractors of Arkansas; Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.; Coalition for a Democratic Workplace; Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon and Galchus, P.C. and National Association of Manufacturers.
Rutledge has been vocal in her concern and opposition to this rule. Arkansas and 12 others states sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget voicing opposition to the proposal earlier this year. The attorneys general believed the rule would place undue burdens on small businesses, which would be singled out under the rule.