Department of Labor’s Bridge to Justice Program
Despite adding 350 new investigators to its staff in the last two years, the US Department of Labor (DOL) still cannot keep up with the large number of complaints it receives. As of December 13, 2010, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, in collaboration with the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service, will now connect workers to local referral services that will provide them access to attorneys to help them with their claims against their employers.
According to the DOL, this collaboration will provide workers a better opportunity to seek redress for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) violations.
The program may increase overtime and minimum wage litigation against employers by assisting workers who would otherwise not have pursued claims. Also, because the DOL will be using a new process to share information and documents with these referral attorneys, it is important to carefully monitor information provided to the DOL. Please consult with MSEC if you receive a request from the DOL.
Claims under the FSLA and the FMLA do not require exhaustion of administrative remedies as do discrimination charges; therefore, workers can pursue private litigation under these laws.