The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is tasked with enforcing federal minimum wage,  overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), and a number of other employment standards and worker protections.

Generally, the WHD will initiate an investigation after a current or former employee files a complaint. A WHD investigator may visit an employer to provide information about the application of and compliance with laws administered by the WHD. An investigator may also visit an organization to conduct interviews, examine time clocks and ensure all employment notifications are available to employees. Additionally, they may review up to three years of wage and hour records to determine whether there are any violations in an employer’s payroll practices.

In addition, the WHD selects certain businesses and industries for investigation. For example, the WHD often targets lowwage industries due to high rates of violations, the employment of vulnerable workers and rapid industry changes, such as growth or decline. Occasionally, several organizations in a specific geographic area are examined.

In fiscal year 2023, the WHD collected more than $212 million in back wages owed to over 163,000 workers, an average of $1,296 for each employee. The WHD also collected more than $25 million in civil monetary penalties in fiscal year 2023, an almost 20% increase compared with penalties collected in fiscal year 2022 and an increase of over 100% compared with penalties collected a decade ago in fiscal year 2014.

This report contains case studies published in 2024 that explore the most recent, real-world examples of employers found to be in violation of wage and hour laws. These case studies include snapshots of violations and general guidance on how employers can prevent similar issues. Employers can examine these case studies to learn from the mistakes of others in comparable industries and avoid DOL violations.


The information in this article is not intended to be construed as legal or professional advice. Employers seeking legal advice should speak with legal counsel. © 2024 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Further Reading