In a major shift in enforcement policy, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that it will no longer rely on agency guidance documents in bringing “affirmative civil enforcement” litigation. Affirmative civil enforcement litigation refers to civil lawsuits filed by DOJ on behalf of the United States to recover government funds lost to fraud or other misconduct, or to impose penalties for violations of federal health, safety, civil rights, or environmental laws.

The change in policy is likely to have an immediate impact on DOJ litigation such as lawsuits brought under the False Claims Act. Perhaps as importantly, it represents a further step by the Trump Administration DOJ to distinguish the non-binding nature of guidance documents from binding obligations created by laws and formally promulgated regulations.

The new DOJ policy also has potential implications for a variety of matters that may impact employers’ compliance obligations.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.