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November 3, 2014

Issue Spotlight: “Enforcement Activity Is Up” At The U.S. Labor Department – And Will Continue

Last week the Washington, DC newspaper Politico profiled Thomas Perez, who leads the U.S. Labor Department. While the article noted labor and employment issues took a backseat during President Barack Obama’s first term, the Department of Labor had been reenergized in his second under Secretary Perez’s watch. Indeed, the newspaper cited a blog post from former Labor Department Wage and Hour Division (WHD) official Alfred B. Robinson, Jr. that reported:

  • Total back wages recovered have increased. The WHD recovered approximately $250 million in back wages for FY 2013, which is down from the approximately $280 million recovered in FY 2012. The 2013 statistic is an increase, however, from the approximately $173 million in FY 2009 and the approximately $166 million recovered in FY 2005. Prior to FY 2012, the most back wages recovered was $220.6 million in fiscal year 2007.
  • Enforcement hours are up. With the addition of some 275 to 300 new investigators, the hours that the WHD spent on enforcement totaled 1.339 million in FY 2013, which is down from 1.377 million in FY 2012 and compares with approximately 880 thousand hours in FY 2009 and 970 thousand hours in FY 2005.

Politico also noted, “The department has also raised its public profile on issues like minimum wage and paid medical leave and lavished favorable attention on companies that give employees what Perez calls ‘voice.’” With several regulations pending, including final injury and illness reporting rules, and Secretary Perez promising “aggressive executive action,” MSCI expects the Labor Department’s more proactive stance to continue over the next two years.