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In 2019, when former President Donald Trump needed a new secretary at work, he contacted the powerful law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and ripped off management labor lawyer Eugene Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin. Scalia led the Ministry of Labor during perhaps the most intense workplace safety crisis in modern history: the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus devastated frontline workers in meat packing plants, farm fields, supermarkets, healthcare facilities, and restaurant kitchens, Scalia continued the uninterrupted regulatory approach that he and his father had. have spent their careers promoting, opting for voluntary guidelines over temporary regulations to demand social distancing. and other protective measures.
His job done, Scalia is heading where he came from. Returning to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, he will co-chair the firm’s administrative and regulatory law group and will be a senior member of its labor and employment practice group.
In its press release, the firm was quick to praise Scalia’s experience on both sides of the revolving door between regulator and regulated in Washington, DC. “Gene is one of the few lawyers in the country who can claim to have successfully challenged important federal regulations in private practice and crafted them from scratch in government,” boasted a Gibson Dunn executive. . Another added: “He is the only person to have served both as labor secretary and as solicitor, the chief legal officer of the department.”
This song is a reference to Scalia’s previous Gibson-Dunn-to-DOL-and-back maneuver, performed in 2002, when President George W. Bush appointed him labor attorney. As I have shown in this article, this appointment came after Scalia led a ruthless and ultimately successful lobbying effort to crush a DOL program designed to regulate repetitive stress injuries in the workplace. The defeat of the ergonomics standard, as it was called, continues to haunt meat packers to this day.
Scalia spent about a year in Bush’s labor department before returning directly to Gibson, Dunn, where he represented a client list that included Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Ford, Facebook, Delta Air Lines, Marriott, Juul Labs, UPS, Walmart and, more infamously, Sea World. (In 2013, this company hired Scalia’s services to try to stop the Labor Department from imposing stricter worker safety rules on its eyewear, after one of its trainers was killed by a whale. )
During his last stint in the Labor Department, Scalia was a staunch Trump lieutenant, praising and defending the president’s handling of the pandemic. He enthusiastically participated in the White House celebration of Amy Coney Barrett’s rise to the Supreme Court party, an Anthony Fauci, later considered a “big-ticket event.” (Scalia’s wife Patricia, who was also present, contracted the virus soon after.)
What some see as the stench of the Trump administration apparently smells of money in the offices of Gibson, Dunn. Ken Doran, president and managing partner of the company, said in a press release that Scalia’s services under Trump “bring him unparalleled and invaluable information.”
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