From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...
By Ben Penn
Businesses can soon report overtime and minimum wage violations and avoid litigation, under a new initiative the labor secretary unveiled at a congressional hearing March 6.
“Employees will receive 100 percent of back wages owed, without the costs of attorney fees,” Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta told House appropriators. “This will be reserved for companies that realize their mistakes, and they come forward. The intention is to get the money owed” to workers faster, he said.
Starting in one month, the department plans to launch a pilot self-reporting program for about six months and then decide whether to continue the initiative, according to a DOL spokesman.
The move from the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division advances the administration’s efforts to improve cooperation with employers by using a carrot instead of a stick. This marks another change in direction from the DOL under President Barack Obama. That administration emphasized thorough, targeted workplace investigations, frequently assessing double damages to make workers whole.
Companies occasionally self-reported wage violations in the George W. Bush administration, sometimes leading to multimillion-dollar recoveries, before the program was disbanded under Obama. Worker advocates have criticized similar programs in the past, saying they may deny workers the chance to get double damages or a full three years of back pay that could arise from a full Wage and Hour Division investigation.
The key sweetener for businesses to turn themselves in, at least in the Bush era, was that employees accepting the paychecks would then waive their right to private action.
Starting in the Obama White House, companies were still welcome to self-report but not with an assurance that WHD wouldn’t investigate. Employers rarely, if ever, did. That administration’s position was that it wouldn’t abdicate its right to conduct a full, independent investigation after an employer came forward.
“That was definitely not the approach that we took and it’s not one that I would support taken,” Laura Fortman, an acting WHD administrator under Obama, said in 2017 of the potential to restore self reporting. “The Wage and Hour Division is often the agency of last resort for these employees, and you need to make sure that you’re doing a thorough investigation and making sure that they receive all of the back wages that they are due,” she told Bloomberg Law at the time.
The WHD stated in its program overview that employers cannot self-report when they are already under investigation for wage violations and that the division retains the right to investigate reporting companies in the future. Further, workers are only waiving their right to private action connected to the violations and time period that the employer is reporting, the division said.
The Labor Department’s WHD has recovered more than $1.2 billion in back wages for unpaid minimum wages and overtime in the last five years, according to the department.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)