Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Jun 09, 2011

Federal agencies promise to coordinate enforcement of employment laws

Affirmative ActionImmigrationWage and Hour 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has taken significant steps to coordinate with other federal agencies in enforcing employment laws. The DOL has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The agreement generally says that ICE will hold off on pursuing alleged immigration violations while the DOL is in the middle of investigating labor-related complaints. For example, these complaints might include overtime violations, improper safety precautions, or failure to provide leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. If ICE really needs to do an immigration sweep during a DOL audit, the DOL will generally have the opportunity to interview the employees to get their stories on the record before they are shipped off. Keep in mind that the DOL can still collect back pay up to the date it is discovered that a worker was unauthorized.

 

Employers with federal supply and service contracts should also be aware of the DOL’s expanded coordination efforts under its “Active Case Enforcement” procedures during an affirmative action audit. Before beginning an audit, DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) will check with other federal agencies to find out whether the company has had any enforcement actions within the past three years. This check will include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), DOL Wage and Hour Division, and Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS). If the company’s history indicates a pattern of violations, this can trigger the OFCCP to go beyond a desk audit and come onsite.

 

Tips: If you receive a notice of a complaint from any of these agencies, notify your Vigilant staff representative immediately. It is critical to take these issues seriously and respond properly.

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