Department of Labor: Case Studies from Ongoing Work Show Examples in Which Wage and Hour Division Did Not Adequately Pursue Labor Violations

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-973T, July 15, 2008

Over 100 million workers are protected through the Department of Labor’s (Labor) enforcement of labor laws. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enforces provisions that ensure workers are paid at least the federal minimum wage and for overtime. The Act applies to businesses engaged in interstate commerce or ones with annual sales over $500,000. Conducting investigations based on worker complaints is WHD’s priority. According to Labor, investigations range from comprehensive investigations to conciliations, which consist primarily of phone calls to a complainant’s employer.

GAO identified case studies that show WHD inadequately investigated complaints from low-wage and minimum wage workers alleging that employers failed to pay the federal minimum wage, required overtime, and failed to pay employees their last paychecks. Examples of inadequate WHD responses to complaints included instances where WHD inappropriately rejected complaints, failed to adequately investigate complaints, or neglected to investigate until it was too late.

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