Appeals court says Labor Department violated law in worsening working conditions

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court says the Labor Department violated federal law when it lowered wages and worsened working conditions in the herding industry without notice or comment.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, an agency is generally required to publish notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register and to accept public comments on its proposals.

In a 3-0 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the Labor Department had done neither.

The appeals court returned the case to a federal judge who will determine how quickly the Labor Department might be able to issue new regulations for herding operations.

In 2011, the department updated procedures setting minimum wages and working conditions employers must offer U.S. sheepherders, goat-herders and cattle herders before hiring foreign labour.