I'm a huge fan of the stuff that Unbossed does, especially the stuff that Shirah is able to pull out of GAO reports and other legal documents that I'm either too lazy to sift through or too bored to try. Today, Shirah decided to go out on a limb and call Labor for not regulating wages and hours like they're supposed to. Here's a teaser from Shirah at Unbossed:
The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division is charged with collecting underpaid and unpaid wages and enforcing violations of the minimum wage and overtime laws (plus prohibitions on child labor). In addition to collecting wages owed, the WHD has the power to prosecute employers in court and to assess and collect penalties from employers as well as other sanctions.
According to a new GAO study that is so not how itis done in this administration. The way it now works is the employer fails to pay wages, admits it wasn't paying, says it doesn't have th emoney to pay, and the WHD tells the law violating employer, "Aw, Gee! Sorry to Bother You." And then the WHD tells the victim to find a lawyer and sue.
GAO identified case studies that show WHD inadequately investigated complaints from low-wage and minimum wage workers alleging that employers failed to pay the federal minimum wage, required overtime, and failed to pay employees their last paychecks. Examples of inadequate WHD responses to complaints included instances where WHD inappropriately rejected complaints, failed to adequately investigate complaints, or neglected to investigate until it was too late. The table below provides examples of several case studies.
Here are some examples from the new GAO study. GAO found that there has been:
(1) a decrease in enforcement activities at WHD amidst a decrease in investigative staff,
(2) WHD’s failure to make effective use of its current compliance tools and strategies, and
(3) the agency’s inability to demonstrate performance results.
The stories of the people hurt by these failues are clear examples of harming the least among us.
Night attendant at assisted living facility/ Ohio
• A homeless woman receiving free room and board while working as a night attendant at a nursing home alleged her employer had failed to pay her wages for an entire year.
• According to WHD, the employer admitted it had failed to pay any wages to the night attendant and considered the room and board to be pay, but stated it did not have any money to pay the back wages.
• WHD dropped the case and advised the night attendant of her right to file a private lawsuit.
• The employer was still in business as of June 2008.
Pool maintenance technician/ Florida
Last paycheck – minimum wage
• Pool maintenance technician alleged that he did not receive his final paycheck from his employer.
• Employer admitted to the WHD investigator that they did not pay the employee’s last paycheck but refused to pay employee.
• WHD dropped case and advised the worker of his right to file a private lawsuit.
High tail it on over to Unbossed for the rest of Shirah's anlysis. It's worth the time. Oh and as per usual, Shame On Elaine.