The U.S. Department of Labor has been signaling a prioritization of wage and hour issues for a while. In its 2022 FY budget request, the agency requested an increase in funding to the Wage and Hour Division by more than $30 million over the previous year. “This funding increase will enable WHD to aggressively combat worker misclassification, along with fully enforcing the other areas under its purview like prevailing wages and family and medical leave,” DOL wrote in its budget request.
“Aggressive” seemingly has been the right word; it announced in February a plan to hire 100 wage and hour investigators. While it remains to be seen whether WHD will reverse its recent downward trend in recoveries, the agency has this year recovered millions in back pay from employers that allegedly misclassified workers, for example. Workers in construction, home care, agriculture and food service are among the many that have received back wages. In addition, DOL has strengthened its focus on child labor laws and addressed worker intimidation.
The stories below provide a sampling of the agency’s recent enforcement activity.