There has been a lot of talk about how much more pro-business the U.S. Department of Labor was going to be under this Administration.  Well, appearances can be deceiving, as a report has just come out indicating that the agency collected in excess of $322 million last year for workers who did not receive proper overtime or other compensation.  This represents an increase of over $18 million from the year before.

The Secretary of Labor observed that “these record-breaking numbers top the department’s totals from last year, which also set records, and confirm our ongoing commitment to strong enforcement and to providing employers with the tools they need to comply with the law.”  Significantly, another component of the agency, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, just announced it had smashed its record on this front and brought in excess of $40 million.  That figure included a $9.9 million dollar settlement with Goldman Sachs and a 7 million dollar settlement with Dell.

The agency also garnered almost $4,000,000 in back due overtime for hundreds of workers who were employed by a major pipeline construction management company Team Environmental LLC.  The DOL also secured millions from federal contractors who underpaid workers, including an almost $2,000,000 settlement with a McKesson Corp. subsidiary.  The Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division stated that the agency is “delivering a level playing field for employers and employees alike.”

The Administrator continued by emphasizing that “we are delivering more back wages for workers than ever before, and we are steadfastly eliminating any unfair economic advantage employers may try to gain by skirting the rules.  We are protecting those who do the right thing, pay their employees what they have legally earned and operate in compliance.”

The agency also seeks to expand on its initiatives to target certain industries and businesses for audits and inspections.  The DOL will use an “improving and expanding … data-driven approach” to identify these industries and will focus strong attention to that particular sector.

The Takeaway

Seems like the agency hit the jackpot last year for employees and seems intent on upping that mark for this year.  The best protection for employers who do not want to be on the government’s scorecard is to conduct an internal, self-audit of all of its compensation practices to determine if it is in compliance with wage hour laws and then fixing what may be broken.

Before the USDOL does it for you.  And charges you for that “service”…