|November 4, 2008|
Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
2007 Statistics Fact Sheet
WAGE AND HOUR COLLECTS A RECORD $220 MILLION IN BACK WAGES FOR OVER 341,000 EMPLOYEES IN FISCAL YEAR 2007
The Employment Standards Administration’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recovered more than $220 million in back wages for over 341,000 employees in fiscal year 2007. Back wage collections exceeded the record levels collected in fiscal year 2003 by 3.8 percent. The agency concluded 30,467 compliance actions and assessed over $10.3 million in civil money penalties. 
The number of registered complaints declined for the third year, reflecting an agency emphasis on complaint intake strategies that screen incoming calls and correspondence to ensure that the issue raised is properly within WHD’s enforcement jurisdiction. These complaint screening strategies contributed, in some part, to a decline in the percent of WHD complaint investigations that find no violation of WHD laws.
Over 311,000 Employees Received Fair Labor Standards Act Back Wages
In fiscal year 2007, more than 311,000 employees received a total of $180.7 million in minimum wage and overtime back wages as a result of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations. WHD collected over $163 million in back wages for FLSA overtime violations and more than $17 million for FLSA minimum wage violations. Back wages for overtime violations represented roughly 90 percent of all FLSA back wages collected, and the number of employees receiving overtime back wages represented about 95 percent of all employees due FLSA back wages. WHD also assessed employers $3.9 million in FLSA civil money penalties.
Compliance With The Part 541 Overtime Security Regulations Remains Steady
Of the $180.7 million in FLSA back wages collected, nearly $16 million was collected for approximately 12,000 employees as a result of violations of the Overtime Security regulations (29 C.F.R. Part 541). This compares to $13.2 million collected for approximately 12,000 employees in fiscal year 2006. The violation most frequently cited was one in which the employee’s primary duty was not “the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers.” This violation of the administrative duty test was cited in 296 cases and affected approximately 2,500 employees. Back wages resulting from determinations that management was not an employee’s primary duty were in excess of $4.5 million and represent the greatest dollar amount collected for a Part 541 violation.
Back Wages Collected For Workers In Low-Wage Industries Increased
WHD continues to pursue compliance in low-wage industries that employ young and immigrant workers. In fiscal year 2007, the agency collected over $52.7 million in back wages for approximately 86,500 workers in low-wage industries—an increase of over 33 percent of back wages collected during fiscal year 2003 for violations in the same group of low-wage industries. WHD expends nearly 40 percent of its enforcement resources on investigations in the nine low-wage industries listed below.
Low-Wage Workers In The Gulf Coast Receive Over $7 Million In Back Wages
In fiscal year 2007, WHD opened over 400 hurricane-related cases. Since the 2005 hurricanes, WHD has opened 750 hurricane-related cases and collected nearly $4.9 million in back wages for 9,000 workers in concluded cases. The agency has collected an additional $2.5 million in back wages on cases not yet concluded.
WHD has faced significant challenges in responding to the compliance situation in the Gulf Coast region, including the changing labor demographics, the large number of employees mis-designated as independent contractors, the inaccessibility to workers and worksites, and the infusion of federal assistance into the region that resulted in government contracts with multiple layers of subcontracting and blurred lines of employer accountability. WHD responded to these challenges by encouraging innovative ways to get information to the workers and employers in the region. WHD worked with faith-based organizations, community activists, the federal contracting community, foreign consulates, and local media to provide outreach and education about the laws it enforces to employers and employees of the Gulf Coast region.
WHD was also flexible in reallocating resources, including Spanish-language resources, to the area. Since January 2006, WHD has detailed additional investigators and managers to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast on a temporary rotational basis. These rotations included over 30 different investigators—the majority of whom were bilingual—and five managers from over 20 WHD offices around the country.
In addition, the agency has hired four new investigators for the New Orleans district office and two new investigators for the Gulfport field station, as well as a new assistant district director for the New Orleans district office. WHD also transferred a senior team leader to the New Orleans district office for a multi-year detail and opened a satellite office space in Kenner, Louisiana, to better serve the local Hispanic community.
WHD has used virtually every enforcement tool at its disposal—directed cases, complaint cases, conciliations, withholding of funds on federal contracts, debarments, litigation, and referral to criminal prosecutors—to ensure compliance with the labor standards laws in its jurisdiction.
WHD Continues Strong Child Labor Enforcement
Results for fiscal year 2007 show a total of 4,672 minors found illegally employed, an average of 3.7 minors illegally employed per investigation. The majority of child labor violations occurred when workers under the age of 16 worked too many hours, too late at night, or too early in the morning. In total, 3,406 minors were employed in violation of the child labor hours standards. Hazardous Occupation Order (HO) violations were found in a third of the cases with child labor violations. Violations of HO No. 12 (paper balers) were the most common type of HO violation found, followed by violations of HO No. 2 (driving). WHD assessed nearly $4.4 million in child labor civil money penalties in fiscal year 2007.
The percent of investigator enforcement time spend in examining child labor compliance increased from 5.9 percent of all enforcement time in fiscal year 2003 to 6.7 percent in fiscal year 2007. In addition to conducting directed child labor investigations of employers, WHD investigators examine employers’ compliance with child labor laws in all on-site investigations.  This past fiscal year, WHD investigators examined child labor compliance in over 18,790 investigations. Forty-five percent of the cases with child labor violations (561) were investigations in which the primary act being investigated was an act other than child labor. In most cases, the registration act or primary act was FLSA or the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.
Declines in the number of young workers illegally employed from FY 2003 may also be related to the overall decrease in the employment of workers 16 to 19 years of age. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey shows a drop in the employment-population ratio of 16- to 19-year-olds from 42.3 percent in 2001 to 36.9 percent in 2006. The employment level of 16- to 19-year-olds fell from approximately 6,740,000 in 2001 to 6,162,000 in 2006.
Family And Medical Leave Act Enforcement Complaints Declined
The number of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) complaint cases concluded in fiscal year 2007 declined from cases concluded in fiscal year 2006. The number of violation cases declined by 44.4 percent from the number in fiscal year 2003, and over 10 percent fewer employees were affected by FMLA violations. Termination of employees seeking FMLA leave continues to be the primary reason that employees filed a complaint. The number of FMLA complaint cases has declined over the last four years. This corresponds to a similar decrease in the percent of cases in which no violation was found. As with complaints in general, the trend reflects an emphasis on more efficient complaint intake strategies to ensure that registered complaints are those on which the agency can act.
During fiscal year 2007, WHD continued to promote FMLA compliance through its outreach program. WHD field offices participated in over 140 FMLA compliance assistance events in fiscal year 2007. Approximately 8 percent of all compliance assistance events undertaken by WHD are focused on increasing compliance with FMLA.
Fiscal Year 2008 Initiatives
WHD will maintain a presence in the Gulf Coast region as clean-up and reconstruction activities continue. Throughout the next several years, WHD will allocate enforcement resources to the region, explore new strategies and partnerships to reach vulnerable workers, and pursue opportunities to meet any new compliance challenges that may arise along the Gulf Coast.
In addition to this effort, WHD regions have planned regional and local initiatives for fiscal year 2008. These initiatives employ the strategies of compliance assistance, partnerships, and directed enforcement to increase compliance with the FLSA, including child labor, in low-wage industries. In support of the agency’s goal to increase compliance in areas in which young workers are most likely to be injured, WHD’s fiscal year 2008 child labor initiative will focus on increasing compliance with HO No. 12 (balers). WHD’s fiscal year 2008 efforts to increase compliance in low-wage industries will be concentrated in those industries, such as construction, janitorial, hotel and motel, and day labor, in which the agency is most likely to find minimum wage and overtime violations as a result of employers’ misdesignation of employees as independent contractors. A component of the agency’s low-wage focus will include regional and district enforcement initiatives in agriculture to increase compliance with the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. WHD will also continue to focus on increasing compliance among prior violators through both directed and complaint investigations and to effectively manage its complaint program to increase labor standards outcomes for the greatest number of workers.
Revised January 2008
 WHD concluded one investigation in which the Division collected over $31.9 million in back wages for approximately 79,350 employees. WHD back wage collections and the number of workers receiving back wages remains high even if this record-breaking case is excluded from the year-end totals.
 The concluded case numbers represent all investigations and conciliations for which the Department has completed work during the fiscal year. Cases are generally concluded when back wages are collected and distributed, civil money penalties are paid, no violations are disclosed, or no further action is appropriate.
 Conciliations and some types of compliance audits do not necessitate an on-site visit of the employer’s establishment.