As we previously reported here, the USDOL is focused on corporate-wide compliance strategies to ensure that employers take active responsibility for their compliance efforts. In a speech at New York University, Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith touted a recent settlement with Tyson Foods as an example of the DOL’s new approach. Ms. Smith explained that even though the DOL’s enforcement action was limited to the employer’s Blountsville, Alabama facility, the settlement includes a nationwide injunction which broadly covers other company facilities and workers. Smith explained “[t]hat’s the type of settlement you will see us entering into more and more in the future….if we find a violation at one facility, it should be corrected at all the company’s facilities.” See Solis v. Tyson Foods Inc., N.D. Ala., No. 02-CV-1174, Docket Entry 521-1 (proposed consent judgment), June 3, 2010. During the same speech, Ms. Smith reiterated that “the Labor Department is open once again.”
The business community must recognize the expanded efforts of an increasingly active and ambitious DOL, and review compliance practices to minimize the likelihood that a DOL site investigation will evolve into a nationwide audit and/or litigation.