Last week, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision that will redefine the landscape of federal administrative law.  This ruling will resonate through federal regulatory agencies and judicial interpretations for years to come and signals a significant departure from the traditional agency deference given under the Chevron Doctrine.  The Court’s decision will reshape the regulatory landscape that touches nearly every facet of American life, including agencies that govern labor relations, employment practices, and worker protections.

The History of Chevron

In Chevron v. Natural Res. Def. Council, the U.S. Supreme Court created the Chevron Doctrine—a framework for judicial deference to administrative agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous federal statutes.  Under this doctrine, courts conducted a two-step analysis to determine (1) whether Congress had spoken directly to the precise issue and (2) if not, then whether the agency’s interpretation of the statute was reasonable.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Chevron has been cited more than 18,000 times since it was issued in 1984 and it has played a crucial role in how Court’s interpret rule-making of administrative agencies like the Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”).  Under Chevron, the interpretations of these agencies was given broad deference by reviewing courts under the Chevron Doctrine because those agencies had expertise in the given subject matter.

The Supreme Courts Says Goodbye to Chevron Deference

Opponents of the Chevron doctrine have argued that courts, rather than federal agencies, should determine the meaning of ambiguous statutes.  In Loper Bright v. Raimondo and Relentless v. Department of Com., the plaintiffs asked the court to overturn, or significantly narrow, Chevron’s application to judicial review of the actions of administrative agencies.  Both cases involved two fishing vessel operators who challenged federal regulations on fishery management.  In response, the Court found that the Chevron Doctrine is inconsistent with the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) because the APA directs the courts to decide legal questions, not federal agencies.  The Supreme Court rejected the argument that agencies rather than courts are better suited to decide what the law means and attempted to shutdown unlawful agency overreach.

So What Does This Mean for Employers?

The implications of this decision is likely to be far-reaching.  For regulatory agencies, this decision may require agencies to provide clearer justifications and rationales for their regulatory actions, while before this decision these agencies were entitled to a presumption of judicial deference.  Thus, this decision makes it easier to challenge regulations and may limit federal agencies’ ability to reshape labor and employment law.

Employers and employees may face increased uncertainty about the interpretation and application of various federal labor and employment laws.  Because this decision results in greater judicial discretion, different jurisdictions may interpret statutes differently.  This may make it more difficult for employers to comply with the law, as judicial interpretations may now vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Although, it will be easier for employers to challenge regulations set by the NLRB and other employment agencies.  For example, this decision may affect pending legal action against the NLRB’s joint-employer rule, the DOL’s increase of the minimum salary threshold for exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Federal Trade Commission’s rule to bar noncompete agreements.


            The end of Chevron may make agencies revisit the kinds of regulations they issue and more closely to adhere to the scope of the underlying statute rather than trying to stretch old statutes to fit new policies.  Because of this significant Supreme Court decision, agencies have new landscape in federal court and will start on equal footing with these challenges.

At Bianchi & Brandt, we recognize the importance of staying ahead of these changes and strive to provide our clients with informed guidance and effective representation in labor law matters.  As the legal landscape evolves, we remain committed to navigating these complexities and ensuring our clients’ interests are protected in this dynamic regulatory environment.

For further insights into how these developments may affect your organization or legal matters related to labor law, please contact us today.  Together, we can navigate the evolving terrain of labor law and achieve optimal outcomes for your business and workforce.