Unannounced DOL Investigations On The Rise

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Unannounced Department of Labor (DOL) investigators are visiting businesses on a more frequent basis “to conduct immediate wage and hour investigations,” according to Allen Smith. In many (most) instances, the companies are not prepared to provide the requested documents or the individuals who would need to meet with the DOL investigators are not available. Many times companies will ask to reschedule with the DOL. Smith suggests having a game plan in place to ensure the right procedures are followed in the event that the DOL shows up unannounced. Generally, someone from legal, HR, or Operations would meet with the DOL representative – whoever it is should be sophisticated enough to deal with government employees who are adversarial by nature.

The documents, according to Smith, that the DOL will be requesting include:

  • All business owner and company officer information – phone numbers, addresses, and names
  • The legal name and any DBA’s of the company
  • Record of gross annual dollar volume of sales for the past three years
  • List of all employees and their information – name, pay rate, title, shift (if applicable), and exemption status
  • Time and payroll records for two years, including the most recent payroll completed
  • If any employees are under 18 years of age, their birth dates and who worked in the past two years
  • All subcontractor information, including 1099 forms
  • The company’s federal employer identification number
  • Information about all subcontractors, including names and telephone numbers

While this is a lot of information, businesses do have rights. You only have to disclose what is required by law. You do not have to allow DOL employees to take pictures, or present information (i.e. email addresses and telephone numbers of employees – since the law does not require you to keep this information) that is not required to be kept by you by law. You, as the business owner, have the right to keep your confidential processes, patents, business secrets, and equipment confidential.

It is recommended that you follow-up on what the laws are in regard to what you do have to produce and what you don’t have to produce for a DOL investigation. Use your legal department to its fullest for investigations such as these. You should always show your willingness to cooperate with the DOL investigators, but also let them know that you will follow the law in regard to what you must provide to them.

Have you ever been involved in a DOL investigation? How was it handled?

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