In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the US Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) chief administrative law judge (ALJ) issued an administrative order on March 19 clarifying the status of matters pending before the DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ). The administrative order covers the following:
OALJ Hearings Suspended
Effective March 23, OALJ is suspending all hearings, including telephonic hearings, until May 15. Parties may petition the presiding ALJ to conduct a telephonic hearing but must demonstrate compelling circumstances. This suspension does not apply to cases in which the parties have jointly agreed to a decision on the record based on stipulated facts or a stipulated record.
OALJ Procedural Deadlines Suspended
Also effective March 23, OALJ is suspending all procedural deadlines in cases currently pending before OALJ until May 15 unless ordered otherwise by the presiding ALJ. The presiding ALJ will notify the parties of any modifications to deadlines for cases with a hearing scheduled between May 18 and June 12.
Further Suspensions Will Be Addressed in a Subsequent Order
OALJ will issue another administrative order no later than May 4 on whether it will suspend hearings and procedural deadlines beyond May 15.
Hold on Issuance of Orders and Decisions
Because of reduced staffing to combat the spread of COVID-19, OALJ is placing a hold on all decisions until at least April 15.
Deadline for Hearing Requests Not Affected
The deadline for parties to file a request for a hearing is not affected by the administrative order, and these requests should be emailed to OALJ-Filings@DOL.gov. Note that the OALJ does not have authority to extend deadlines for filing an appeal with the Administrative Review Board, Benefits Review Board, or federal courts.
Mediations and Settlement Conferences Not Affected
Telephonic mediations and settlement judge conferences may proceed with the consent of all parties, subject to the availability of the mediator or settlement judge.
Email Filings Encouraged
Until further notice, OALJ will accept and encourages all parties to file papers by email using the email addresses provided in the administrative order. The subject line of the email transmission shall contain, in this order:
- The name of the presiding judge (use UNK if the case is not assigned or you do not know who the presiding judge is)
- The OALJ case number (use TBD if this is a request for an ALJ hearing or the filing of a complaint or order of reference)
- A short description of the nature of the filing. Emailed filings shall not exceed 50 pages unless prior permission is granted by the presiding ALJ. A party who files a document by email shall not also file a hard copy
We will continue to follow this issue for any updates. If you have any questions about the OALJ’s actions in response to COVID-19, please contact Scott D. Clausen or Jonathan Snare.