DOL Announces ‘Bridge to Justice’ Attorney Referral System

December 14, 2010 0 COMMENTS

It may soon be easier for employees to find private legal representation after the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) declines to pursue their Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims. This is thanks to a new collaboration between the WHD and the American Bar Association (ABA) to establish an attorney referral system. Vice President Joe Biden, along with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, announced this new “Bridge to Justice” program at a Middle Class Task Force event on November 19, 2010.

Starting December 13, 2010, when workers with FLSA or FMLA claims are told that the WHD is not going to pursue their complaints, they may be given a toll-free number to contact the new ABA-Approved Attorney Referral System. If they call this number, they will be referred to ABA-approved attorney referral service providers in their area.

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Wage War: DOL Launches Aggressive “We Can Help” Enforcement Outreach

April 07, 2010 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has fired a loud warning shot to employers in its ongoing effort to increase federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) enforcement. In a news release late last year, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis first unveiled plans for a proposed program to work with advocacy groups and other stakeholders to inform workers of their labor rights. However, We Can Help, which was officially launched last week, represents a very active effort on the WHD’s part to reach out to employees for their help in cracking down on suspected wage violations.

The We Can Help website presents employees who think they aren’t “being paid right” with a nothing-to-lose wage complaint scenario, encouraging them to take advantage of a toll-free information hot line, complainant confidentiality, and protection for undocumented immigrant workers. Employers defending against the complaints, however, aren’t afforded similar luxuries and may face significant loss of time, money, and resources on the program’s effort to solicit (potentially frivolous) claims.

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Solis’ Proposed Budget Opens Door for 358 More DOL Inspectors, Staff

February 01, 2010 1 COMMENTS

Today, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis hosted her third live Web chat during her tenure with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). During the session, Solis answered questions on the department’s proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year. She touched briefly on the agency’s plans with the requested $116.5 billion, a decrease from last year’s $193.6 billion. This decrease can be largely attributed to a decline in unemployment insurance benefit payments.

Solis noted that the DOL’s priorities for the coming year would focus on protecting workers’ rights, expanding the agency’s role in enforcing those rights, ensuring that workers are aware of and have equal access to DOL programs, and maintaining department transparency with the public. The DOL hopes to return worker protection agencies to staffing levels that were present in 2001. For that purpose, $1.7 billion — a $69 million increase — will be allocated to these programs, allowing for an additional 177 inspectors, investigators, and other staff to be hired.

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DOL’s Agenda Focuses on Safety and Wages

January 28, 2010 2 COMMENTS

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis has announced the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) regulatory agenda for 2010, saying, “Protecting wages and working conditions for workers is key to the mission of our department, and ensuring that workers have a voice on the job is also vital.” The agenda is expected to satisfy many union demands. Below is a summary of the DOL’s priorities by department.

Wage and Hour Division
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DOL Hires 250 New Wage and Hour Investigators

November 20, 2009 0 COMMENTS

If a recent news release from U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is any indication, 2010 may prove to be a year of ramped-up enforcement from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In her November 19 statement, Secretary Solis sent a clear message about the enforcement and outreach efforts occurring within the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), announcing the recent hire of an additional 250 wage and hour investigators as well as plans for a public awareness campaign on worker rights, expected to launch in 2010.

The hiring effort at the WHD represents a staff increase of more than one-third, a move that will significantly improve the DOL’s top priority of protecting worker rights by allowing prompter response to complaints of wage violations and more targeted enforcement. Solis’ message is clear: “Failure to comply with these basic labor standards means that workers are not receiving the money they have earned,” and the department “will not rest until the law is followed by every employer, and each worker is treated and compensated fairly.”

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Investigation Accuses Wage and Hour Division of Blunders that Fail Workers

March 26, 2009 0 COMMENTS

After a nine-month undercover investigation into the Department of Labor’s (DOL) ability to enforce and investigate violations of federal minimum wage, overtime, and child labor laws, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports serious failures.

The report, which was released March 25, was prompted by a request from the House Education and Labor Committee. The investigation used undercover agents posing as workers making complaints about possible wage and hour violations. The GAO found that the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) mishandled nine of the 10 cases investigators reported, according to an account in The New York Times.

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