Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
NEW ORLEANS -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is continuing its multiyear enforcement initiative in Louisiana’s child care industry to increase employer compliance and inform workers of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Investigations and compliance assistance efforts conducted under the initiative previously focused on Northern Louisiana and are now expanding to include child care facilities in the Southwest and South Central regions of the state. The division is committed to strengthening compliance in this industry and is collaborating with a state licensing agency, industry education and training providers, employer associations and other stakeholders to promote awareness and compliance with federal labor laws.
Investigations conducted by the division’s New Orleans District Office in 2011 and 2012 uncovered significant violations of the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions among area child care service providers. These investigations resulted in the recovery of more than $300,000 in back wages for nearly 2,000 employees.
Where appropriate, the division is sharing its investigative findings with the State of Louisiana, Department of Child and Family Services, which establishes and regulates licensing requirements for all state-licensed child care facilities. The division is also reaching out to area Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies—organizations that train child care providers and help develop new child care facilities—to provide them with compliance assistance and help them inform employees and employers about the requirements of the FLSA.
“We are pleased to be working with stakeholders, such as the Alexandria NSU Child and Family Network, Baton Rouge Volunteers of America Partnerships in Child Care, Lafayette First Years, New Orleans Agenda for Children and many others to educate employers about their legal responsibilities and help foster a vibrant and compliant local child care industry,” said Cynthia Watson, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator in the Southwest. “This expanded initiative aims at protecting low-wage child care workers who care for our nation’s greatest resource.”
Common violations by employers uncovered during previous investigations include failing to count time spent by staff members at mandatory training courses as compensable, improperly classifying FLSA-covered employees as volunteers or as exempt from receiving overtime compensation, making illegal deductions from employees’ wages that result in earnings falling below the federal minimum wage, paying straight time rates rather than time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in a week, and failing to maintain required record keeping.
Investigations conducted under this enforcement initiative will continue to focus on identifying and remedying common FLSA violations. When violations are found, the division vigorously pursues corrective action, including the payment of back wages, civil money penalties and liquidated damages by employers, to ensure accountability and deter future violations.
For more information about the initiative, see the division’s July 8, 2012, press release at http://www.dol.gov/whd/media/press/whdpressVB3.asp?pressdoc=Southwest/20120712.xml.
The child care industry employs many low-wage workers who, due to a lack of knowledge of the law or hesitance to exercise their rights, are vulnerable to disparate treatment and labor violations. In addition to Louisiana, the Wage and Hour Division is conducting similar enforcement initiatives in Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Texas.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Additionally, employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
For more information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division’s New Orleans District Office at 504-589-6171. Information also is available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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