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Wage and Hour Investigations: What you need to know

U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for administering and enforcing a number of federal laws that set basic labor standards. WHD conducts investigations for a number of reasons, all having to do with enforcement of the laws and ensuring an employer’s compliance. An investigator from WHD may conduct an investigation to determine whether the laws it enforces apply to an employer. If the employer is subject to these laws, the investigator will verify that workers are paid and employed properly according to the laws administered and that youths under the age of 18 are employed as provided by the child labor provisions. WHD does not require an investigator to previously announce the scheduling of an investigation, although in many instances the investigator will advise an employer before opening the investigation. The investigator has sufficient latitude to initiate unannounced investigations in many cases in order to directly observe normal business operations and quickly develop factual information . An investigator may also visit an employer to provide information about the application of, and compliance with, the labor laws administered by WHD.
WHD does not typically disclose the reason for an investigation. Many are initiated by complaints. All complaints are confidential, so the name of the worker, the nature of the complaint, and whether a complaint exists may not be disclosed. In addition to complaints, WHD selects certain types of businesses or industries for investigation. WHD often targets low-wage industries because of high rates of violations or egregious violations, the employment of vulnerable workers, or rapid changes, such as ...

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