U. S. Department of Labor Ramps Up Enforcement Efforts

April 13, 2010

In an effort to enforce compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and identify potential wage and hour violations, the Secretary of Labor and the Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division have this month officially launched a national public awareness campaign called "We Can Help."

The stated purpose is "to provide workers with information about their rights in the workplace and to educate them on how to seek assistance of the Wage and Hour Division when they believe that they have been the subject of a violation." The campaign includes public service announcements and a new website at http://www.dol.gov/wecanhelp.

The televised public service announcements are in English and Spanish. Each announcement directs employees to a toll-free number if they believe they are not being properly paid. The TV spots state that the call is confidential and that wage rules apply to all workers, regardless of their immigration status.

The website provides instructions on how to file a complaint if the individual believes he or she has not been properly paid. It suggests "useful information" to be reported including the name and location of the employer, the phone number, the manager or owner's name, the type of work the employee does, and how the individual is paid. It is also suggested that pay stubs and personal records of hours worked by submitted. The website states that if the Wage and Hour Division is unable to assist the individual, they will refer the person to the "appropriate agency or organization" — think EEOC or OSHA!

The website also provides instructions for a third party complainant- that is, someone who registers a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division on behalf of another person. The instructions request detailed information about the employee, the employee's job duties, hours worked, timekeeping records, and information about the employer.

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) does not require an investigator to previously announce the scheduling of an investigation, although in many instances the investigator will advise an employer prior to opening the investigation. WHD does not typically disclose the reason for an investigation. Many investigations are initiated by complaints. All complaints are confidential, and the name and nature of the complaint are not always disclosed. Also, whether a complaint exists may not be disclosed.

This public awareness initiative by the WHD makes it critical that you are paying your employees correctly(at least minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor regulations, etc.). Also, it is important that employees are properly classified. If non-exempt employees have been improperly classified as being exempt, substantial penalties for unpaid overtime may be required.

SESCO Management Consultants is available evaluate your pay practices and ensure that you are compliant with federal and state wage and hour laws. If you have not had a recent audit of your compensation practices, we encourage you to call us and schedule an audit. You may contact us by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com .