Bayou Lawn & Landscape Services, and Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. Perez, et al. (I)

Challenge to DOL’s 2012 H-2B Program Rule Dismissed as Moot

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

The Chamber urged the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to strike down new Department of Labor (DOL) amendments to the H-2B visa program that businesses use to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. These visas are used almost exclusively by small businesses with small profit margins who, after recruiting for U.S. workers, can’t find enough local workers to meet their labor needs.

In the complaint, the Chamber and its co-litigants argue that the DOL lacks the legal authority to issue the rules, and that the statute creating H-2B visas gives the Secretary of Homeland Security, not DOL, the authority to define the program. The lawsuit also argues that the DOL violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) when it promulgated the regulation by failing to adequately consider the effects on small businesses. 

Case Outcome: 

The court found that the DOL lacks the authority to engage in legislative rulemaking under the H-2B program and vacated the rule.  However, in April 2016, the court issued an order dismissing this case as moot, due to the Government’s issuance of a new 2015 rule to replace the 2012 rule.

Previously, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued a preliminary injunction against DOL's regulations for the H-2B visa program, which are used to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. These visas are used primarily by small businesses with small profit margins that, after recruiting for U.S. workers, can’t find enough local workers to meet their labor needs. In the complaint, the Chamber and its co-litigants argue that the DOL lacks the legal authority to issue the rules, and that the statute creating H-2B visas gives the Secretary of Homeland Security, not DOL, the authority to issue rules for the program. The lawsuit also argues that the DOL violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) when it promulgated the regulation by failing to adequately consider the effects on small businesses. 

The government challenged the district court's preliminary injunction and appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.  The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction of the Department of Labor's (DOL) H-2B regulations. The Eleventh Circuit held that the grant of a preliminary injunction was proper because the DOL was not likely to succeed on the merits as it was not granted authority by Congress to issue regulations for the H-2B visa program and that the district court's factual findings supported its conclusion that granting the injunction was proper.

Procedural History: 

Complaint filed 4/16/12. Preliminary injunction granted 4/26/12. DOL  Appeal filed 7/9/12.  Eleventh Circuit decision issued 4/1/13. Chamber's Motion for Summary Judgment filed 9/9/13. Motion to intervene filed 11/5/2014. Decided 12/18/2014. 

Order released on 4/20/2016, dismissing this case as moot.