Troubling News for Employers from the Department of Labor — Government to refer Wage Hour and FMLA complaints to Plaintiffs' Attorneys!

December 30, 2010

The Obama administration's "Middle Class Task Force" has announced a new program in which the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) will partner with the American Bar Association (ABA) to refer complaints under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and federal wage and hour laws to private plaintiffs' attorneys.

According to a press release from the ABA, "in a typical year, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division receives more than 35,000 employment-related legal complaints. In order to ensure that as many workers as possible have access to legal assistance, the Department of Labor and the ABA are establishing an attorney referral system."

U. S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said "our nation's workers deserve full and fair compensation, and this Administration is committed to ensuring that they receive it. Today's announced collaboration with the ABA streamlines worker access to additional legal resources and builds on the Department of Labor's continued efforts to ensure that employers comply with America's labor laws."

This unprecedented collaboration of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division and the ABA began on December 13, 2010. When Fair Labor Standards Act or FMLA complainants are informed that the Wage and Hour Division is declining to pursue their complaints, they may also be given a toll-free number to contact the newly created ABA-approved Attorney Referral System. In addition, the Wage and Hour Division will also provide relevant information and documents on the case to complainants and the representing attorneys.

While this initiative will presumably benefit some workers, the big winners here are plaintiffs' lawyers. Employers can anticipate having to respond to an increasing number of allegations of improper compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act and violations of FMLA regulations.

SESCO Management Consultants provides expert consulting and auditing to determine compliance with these regulations. SESCO retainer clients receive these audits at no charge as part of our Professional Service Agreement. Those who are not retainer clients can engage SESCO on a per diem basis, or we encourage you to inquire about our Professional Service Agreement providing for on and off-site consulting support at no additional charge. You may contact us by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com .