On Friday, May 21, 2010, the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division held a public Stakeholder Forum, during which key members of the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) discussed WHD’s goals and regulatory agenda. Jackson Lewis attended the Forum. 

After welcoming the crowd, Nancy Leppink, the WHD Deputy Administrator pointed out some of WHD’s accomplishments over the past year, including hiring 250 new investigators (with plans to hire 100 more in 2010) and starting the “We Can Help” campaign, aimed to reach vulnerable workers who wouldn’t otherwise report violations and non-compliance.

Next, Michael Hancock, WHD’s Acting Director of Interpretation and Regulatory Analysis, explained that WHD’s performance goals are to: (1) ensure that the most vulnerable workers are employed in compliance with wage and hour laws; (2) make certain that employers, including the most persistent violators, are brought into and maintain compliance with the laws enforced by the WHD; (3) foster a customer-oriented, quality-driven culture with WHD; (4) issue prevailing wage determinations that are current and accurate; and (5) pursue regulatory initiatives that broadly support and advance the Department of Labor’s vision.  Mr. Hancock indicated that to achieve these goals, WHD will:  (1) target industries in which violations are most likely to occur; (2) employ resources-leveraging strategies and technologies to affect compliance; (3) pursue corporate-wide compliance strategies to ensure that employers take on responsibility for their compliance behavior; (4) target public awareness and outreach efforts to workers populations and industries in which workers are reluctant to report violations; (5) use  penalties, sanctions, the FLSA hot goods provision, and similar strategies – as appropriate – to ensure future compliance among violators and to deter violations among other employers; and (6) implement revised Davis-Bacon wage survey processes to improve the quality and timeliness of wage determinations.

Mr. Hancock then turned to WHD’s regulatory agenda and discussed the newly issued regulations for child labor in non-agriculture, previously discussed here.  He also advised that WHD is planning to develop regulations covering the following issues with the goal of better advising both employers of legal obligations and employees of their rights to prevent violations in the first place:

  1. Non-displacement of qualified workers under service contracts.  Consistent with President Obama’s Executive Order, the regulations would require a covered employer to offer employment to a predecessor’s employees;
  2. The statutory changes to the FMLA imposed by the expanded rights to leave for active military veterans;
  3. Recordkeeping obligations under the FLSA.  Such regulations would potentially require employers to advise all individuals performing services of whether they are classified as employees or contractors and provide an explanation for such determination.  (The pending Employee Misclassification Act seeks to impose similar obligations).  WHD would also like the regulation to codify burden shifting analysis for recordkeeping violations originally stated in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680 (1946), and clarify record keeping obligations for live-in domestics;
  4. Application of the FLSA to domestic services companions; and
  5. Child labor in agriculture. 

Employers must recognize that the newly aggressive WHD is focusing on compliance and consider internal or external audits to review wage and hour compliance.  Employers in traditional low wage industries must take special notice of the WHD’s initiatives.