It’s a new year, and it’s good to know where the DOL’s focus was last year as far as violations go. And despite going through changes with the new administration, the DOL didn’t miss a beat when it came to its 2021 enforcement efforts. That means the agency will probably be even tougher this year. So, it’s time to check up on and beef up your compliance efforts!
In FY 2021, the Wage and Hour Division’s tally totaled 24,727 cases. On average, it took them a little over 71 days to close each case. And overall, the DOL recovered more than $234.2 million in back wages for 193,349 workers.
What kind of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wage and hour violations did the DOL go after this year?
Not surprising, most were minimum wage and overtime issues.
In FY 2021, the DOL dealt with:
- 7,287 cases with minimum wage violations where employers paid almost $26 million in back wages, and
- 7,159 cases with overtime violations where employers paid almost $139 million in back wages.
This past year, FLSA violations were common in what the DOL’s dubbed “low wage, high violation industries.” The top offenders were:
- food services, which had 4,237 cases where 29,209 employees received over $34.7 million in back wages
- construction, which had 3,034 cases where 21,341 employees received over $36 million in back wages
- retail, which had 2,705 cases where 14,734 workers received over $13.4 million in back wages, and
- health care, which had 1,194 cases where 17,079 employees received almost $14 million in back wages.
The DOL received 20,279 new complaints in 2021 and logged over 850,151 enforcement hours total. The agency also conducted 4,793 outreach events (excluding mailings).
The DOL also investigated its fair share of complaints involving the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)..
In FY 2021, there were 928 complaints, with the top reasons being:
- discrimination (281 complaints)
- termination (272 complaints), and
- refusal to grant FMLA leave (252 complaints).
Out of all FMLA complaints from workers, the DOL found 397 cases with valid violations that affected 429 employees, and they received over $1.4 million in back wages.