Department of Labor: Case Studies from Ongoing Work Show Examples in Which Wage and Hour Division Did Not Adequately Pursue Labor Violations

GAO-08-973T Published: Jul 15, 2008. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 2008.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights

Over 100 million workers are protected through the Department of Labor's (Labor) enforcement of labor laws. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enforces provisions that ensure workers are paid at least the federal minimum wage and for overtime. The Act applies to businesses engaged in interstate commerce or ones with annual sales over $500,000. Conducting investigations based on worker complaints is WHD's priority. According to Labor, investigations range from comprehensive investigations to conciliations, which consist primarily of phone calls to a complainant's employer. This testimony highlights findings from GAO's ongoing investigation of WHD's process for investigating and resolving wage and hour complaints. Specifically this testimony will report on cases GAO has identified from ongoing work that show inadequate WHD investigations of complaints. To develop the case studies, GAO obtained and analyzed data from WHD for over 70,000 closed case files from fiscal years 2005 to 2007. GAO then reviewed WHD documents and obtained information from publicly available sources in order to determine facts about the employers that had complaints filed against them. The results of these cases cannot be projected to all 70,000 WHD cases. GAO plans to continue its work in this area to determine if identified case studies are indicators of more systematic problems in WHD.

Full Report