In today’s Wall Street Journal, Melanie Trottman notes that the U.S. Department of Labor has started shifting its focus towards what has long been assumed would be the case:

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has spent her first few months in office focusing on handing out $46 billion in stimulus money. Now, her department is adding staff and signaling it will soon begin putting in practice the more assertive regulation of business she promised early in her tenure.

Ms. Solis has begun hiring 670 new investigators to enforce labor regulations.

Among the new hires will be some 250 additional enforcement personnel in the Department’s Wage and Hour Division, an increase of 33%. 

The Department’s more aggressive enforcement stance, coupled with an increased number of investigators, places employers of all sizes in jeopardy. 

Employers should review their practices and policies now to address possible wage and hour violations in advance of a federal investigation. Investigations by WHD can lead to the payment of back wages, liquidated (double) damages, civil monetary penalties, and, in the case of government contracts, can also lead to debarment from future government contracts.