“Compliance” Not “Gotcha” is Wage and Hour’s Mission

By John Ho, Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC

Dr. David Weil, the new Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division was the key panelist on a program entitled, “The Department of Labor – Wage and Hour Division – Strategic Enforcement and the Changing Workplace” which took place at the ABA’s 8th Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference last week. Dennis McClelland, fellow member of the Wage and Hour Defense Institute served as moderator for the program and got the unique opportunity to ask Dr. Weil about his vision for the Division.

Dr. Weil told the audience that the Division’s mission is “not to play gotcha” with employers but rather compliance. Dr. Weil said that he believed the Division could achieve greater compliance by using several strategic methods including: 1) statistical data to identify problem industries; 2) directed enforcement; 3) full use of the enforcement toolbox available to the Division such as liquidated damages and civil money penalties; and 4) targeted outreach to employers. Dr. Weil identified several industries that remain high on the Division’s radar including janitorial, hospitality and construction.

Dr. Weil acknowledged what members of the WHDI have experienced recently, the aggressive assessment of liquidated damages and the increased use of civil money penalties in audits. Although Dr. Weil noted that these tools have always been available to the Division, he believed increased use would create greater deterrence.

Mr. McClelland also asked Dr. Weil about the timing for proposed changes to the white-collar exemptions which were expected to be published this month. Dr. Weil would not commit to any specific time frame except to say they were “coming.” At this point, it is highly unlikely that the proposed regulations will be published this year. The WHDI will continue to monitor this development.

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