On June 27 2017 Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that the Department of Labour's Wage and Hour Division will re-establish its practice of issuing opinion letters, which the agency had provided for more than 70 years before replacing with a more general administrative guidance in 2010. According to Acosta: "The US Department of Labor is committed to helping employers and employees clearly understand their labor responsibilities so employers can concentrate on doing what they do best: growing their businesses and creating jobs."

An opinion letter from the Wage and Hour Division serves as the agency's official written guidance as to how the laws under its jurisdiction (primarily the Fair Labour Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act) apply to certain facts presented in a request from an employer, an employee or another interested entity. Although the opinion is specifically limited to the facts presented in the request and is not binding on a court, an official opinion provides a helpful outline of the legal issues involved in a fact pattern and can be presented as persuasive authority in litigation – especially when defending against a Department of Labour enforcement action.

The reinstatement of official opinion letters from the Wage and Hour Division will expand the collection of previously published letters, interpretations and guidance available on the Department of Labour's website. The website also provides further instructions for opinion letter requests, including the information that must be in – and the methods for submitting – a request.

For further information please contact Andrew Bezouska at DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC by telephone (+1 608 255 8891) or email (ajb@dewittross.com). The DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC website can be accessed at www.dewittross.com.

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