WASHINGTON, DC — Associate Deputy Labor Secretary Michael Avakian has resigned less than a month after a brief suspension following an ethics probe, according to Bloomberg Law.
Avakian’s resignation comes after House Democrats requested information about his work on a lawsuit for more than three months after joining the DOL last year. Lawmakers have voiced concern that Avakian may have been working on union-related policy work at the same time he was representing D5 Iron Works Inc. in the lawsuit against an Ironworkers local union in Indiana.
Avakian filed two motions on behalf of D5 Iron Works Inc. and participated in a pair of conference calls with the judge in the case after joining the department last April. He was suspended without pay for two weeks last year for exercising “bad judgment,” a DOL spokeswoman previously told Bloomberg Law.
Labor Department officials determined that Avakian didn’t use government resources for the case and didn’t “knowingly” violate “a criminal statute or particular ethics rule,” the department spokeswoman said. Instead, he misunderstood what ethics officials meant when they instructed Avakian to “wrap up” his work on the case.
D5 Iron Works alleges in its lawsuit that union leaders used physical violence in an attempt to secure a collective bargaining agreement at a construction site. Federal prosecutors charged a pair of union officials with labor extortion less than two weeks after Avakian withdrew from the case.