In addition to adding 350 new wage-and-hour investigators to its staff, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a new collaboration between its Wage-and-Hour Division and the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service that will likely further increase the amount of FLSA and FMLA litigation. Through this new collaboration, which the DOL has named the "Bridge to Justice," the DOL and ABA are now providing an attorney referral service to individuals who contact the DOL to allege violations of the FLSA or FMLA by their employers.
As explained on this recently released FAQ website, over 35,000 employees contact the Wage and Hour Division each year, and the Division is not able to assist all of these employees. Now, when employees call and the DOL determines that it cannot assist them, they will be provided a toll-free number to call, which will give them the contact information of attorneys in their area who might be able to take their case. In addition, in situations in which the Wage-and-Hour Division conducts an investigation, but does not pursue further action on behalf of an employee, the Division will now supply the complainant with its determination regarding the violation(s) at issue and back wages owed, as well as the phone number for the attorney referral service.
This recent announcement has caused quite a stir among employers who have already experienced the effects of increased wage-and-hour litigation.