Posts Tagged ‘Department of Labor’

U.S. DOL Hires 250 Investigators

Friday, October 16th, 2009

money-and-gavel on employee screening blogThe US Department of Labor announced last month the hiring of 250 investigators, tasked with looking into wage and hour violations by employers. The influx of investigators is partially based on a recent report compiled out of a 2008 survey of over 4,000 low-wage workers in three major U.S. cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Researchers focused on more vulnerable workers, such as immigrants and cash employees, who often slip through the cracks of data gathering.

The goal of the survey was to produce accurate estimates of workplace violations, like minimum wage abuse and unpaid overtime.

According to the report, 26% of workers were paid less than the legal minimum wage; and 60% of them were underpaid by more than $1 per hour.

Of the 25% of survey respondents who worked more than 40 hours in the previous week, 76% were not paid the legal overtime rate. Employees averaged 11 hours of overtime that were underpaid or not paid at all.

Additional violations revealed were workers performing work off the clock, and not being paid for it (25%/70% respectively); workers who received no meal breaks or were required to work during their meal breaks (69%); and workers who received no documentation, such as a pay stub, of their earnings and deductions (57%).

The report goes on to describe employers who stole their workers’ tips, who forced workers to pay for damages to tools, and who retaliated against employees when they complained about working conditions. These are not the types of employers anyone would want to work for!

The report’s first recommendation for a solution is to “Strengthen Government Enforcement of Existing Employment and Labor Laws.” Thus, the hiring of 250 new DOL investigators.

Employers must be fully aware of labor and wage laws; if there is a question regarding a specific situation, researching the answer is pretty simple: the Internet, the IRS and the DOL have loads of information for employers. You can also check with a labor attorney. There is no excuse for breaking labor and wage laws; and violations will result in stiff fines and penalties.

Be sure to check out our Pre-Employment Screening services. Protect your business, increase your peace of mind and lower turnover by hiring smart!