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Labor Department conducting more surprise wage-and-hour inspections

Employers should generally take care to ensure that their employee payment practices are in line with state and federal regulations. However, employers may want to be especially vigilant at this time, given that investigators for the Department of Labor (DOL) are appearing at worksites with increasing frequency.

These investigators seek to accomplish examinations of wage-and-hour compliance immediately upon arrival at worksites. The DOL does not warn employers of impending investigatory visits. Rather, the agency seeks to catch violators in the act so that they may be held liable for their illegal practices.

These surprise investigations may sorely needed at work sites where employers regularly violate the rights of employees. After all, it can be all too easy for manipulative employers to violate the rights of workers, particularly those who are low-wage, don't speak English or are poorly educated, as these workers may not be aware of their rights in the first place.

However, these surprise investigations may catch employers off guard who have simply not taken the time to educate themselves on the rights of their workers. These employers may be well-meaning, but have not taken sufficient steps to ensure that they are in compliance with wage-and-hour laws.

With the knowledge that DOL wage-and-hour investigations are occurring with increasing frequency, employers in South Florida and around the country should be inspired to review state and federal employee pay laws that apply to their businesses. Securing necessary documentation and ensuring that their businesses are in compliance with the law will help employers both pass surprise inspections and treat their workers with the respect and consideration to which they are entitled.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management, "Surprise DOL Visits on the Rise," Allen Smith, June 13, 2012

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