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November 1, 2010 | HR Compliance | Posted by Ascentis

Dancing with the D.O.L.

ABC’s Dancing with the Stars has awakened new interest in ballroom dancing while creating an entertainment phenomenon.

It sometimes feels like conducting business in the marketplace is a dance partnering employers and employees in moves designed to bring mutual success to both parties. Sometimes the dance is a wonderfully choreographed drama of precise dips and turns that ignites passion and productivity. Sometimes it’s a chaotic jitterbug where once you stop spinning you wonder how work got done and business conducted.

Lately, there seem to be a number of partners trying to cut in on the marketplace dance floor to separate employers from their employees. The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has stepped up enforcement activities to ensure that workers are properly paid and appropriately classified while the plaintiff’s bar has moved in to aggressively pursue class action labor lawsuits in many states across the country.

Perform a Google search on the words “wage and hour lawsuits” and one of the first listings is a Wal-Mart settlement for hundreds of millions of dollars. An even newer suit was filed in October on behalf of Walmart’s janitors.   Lower down on the same results page are dire warnings that should strike fear in the hearts of our nation’s employers.  “The multitude of wage and hour claims and lawsuits that workers have filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), and its state law counterparts, have made wage and hour law the nation's fastest growing type of litigation”, says the Epstein Becker Green Wage & Hour Defense Blog.   Kiplinger warns that “wage and hour lawsuits are rising, outpacing all other types of workplace class actions” in a February, 2010 article titled "Wage and Hour Lawsuits Costing Employer’s Millions”.

While the headlines provoke fear (and so they should, as these lawsuits are on the rise), level-headed thinking and planning will help you avoid potentially costly litigation. Using an automated time and attendance solution will accurately gather employee time data for the precise calculation of payroll, as well as document this data for your own protection.

Other advantages of automating time and attendance are the consistent application of payroll policies like meal break rules and enforced schedules as well as time savings from eliminating manual processes. It also provides a reliable record of your employees’ time data should you ever be audited by the DOL or be named as a party in a wage and hour lawsuit.

To ensure success in the marketplace, employers must have  supporting infrastructure. Effective HR & Payroll personnel, policies and efficient workforce management tools help employers navigate the congested dance floor while leading their employee dance partners through the original dance of conducting business, without any slip ups or wardrobe malfunctions.

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