First there was the “We Can Help” program. Then there was the hiring of 250 new Wage & Hour investigators. More recently there has been the “Bridge to Justice” program which matches people who file complaints with plaintiffs attorneys. Now the US Department of Labor has released a smart phone application that allows employees to track their work time on their smart phones. The application, called DOL-Timesheet, “lets workers calculate regular work hours, break time and overtime pay to create their own wage records.” (according to an AP article.) Further, according to the article “Department officials say the information could prove valuable in a dispute over pay or during a government investigation when an employer has failed to keep accurate records.” US Department of Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, said “This app will help empower workers to understand and stand up for their rights when employers have denied their hard-earned pay.”
Naturally employers and employment law attorneys are concerned that this will cause Wage & Hour lawsuits to increase even more than they have in the past year, which saw an almost 12% increase from the previous year. Most of the increase has come in class action suits.
With this new application, the subsequent publicity it is sure to get, and the continued adversarial attitude the US Department of Labor is taking against employers it behooves all employers to pay very strict attention to the timekeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Here is a beginning with a post that I wrote in the past called Five Steps to Diminish Wage & Hour Problems. Education and understanding and the advice of a good lawyer or consultant are what will help you stave off the onslaught of Wage & Hour lawsuits that the USDOL is trying to foster.
Do employers make mistakes? Absolutely! Do some employers cheat their employees? I am certain they do. Is the best solution to punish in such an adversarial manner? No, but what is to be expected of a Department of Labor and a Secretary of Labor so ingrained with the adversarial mentaility of unions? Perhaps a two-pronged educational program aimed at employers as well as employees? I am just saying….
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