Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
NEW ORLEANS -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is conducting a multiyear enforcement initiative focused on the child care industry in northern Louisiana, where it has found widespread noncompliance with the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2011, the division’s New Orleans District Office conducted 107 investigations of child care service providers in its jurisdiction; 81 percent of all investigated employers were found to be in violation of the FLSA, resulting in the recovery of more than $257,800 in unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation for nearly 1,000 employees.
“We have found widespread labor violations in Louisiana’s child care facilities that cause many vulnerable workers to suffer substandard wages and disparate treatment, in violation of the law. Strengthening labor law compliance in this industry is important not just for its workers, but for all the families depending on them for quality child care services,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “The goal of this ongoing initiative is to remedy systemic labor violations, ensure compliance among employers previously found in violation of the FLSA and promote sustained compliance throughout this industry.”
Common violations uncovered during investigations include employers failing to count time spent by staff members at mandatory training courses as compensable, improperly classifying FLSA-covered employees 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.
Under the initiative, investigators are visiting child care service providers across northern Louisiana – including franchises, multiple employer locations and facilities operating under a state license – to identify patterns of violations. Thorough inspections of payroll records and employment practices, as well as employee interviews, are being conducted. When violations are found, the division is vigorously pursing corrective action – including payment of back wages, civil money penalties and liquidated damages – to ensure accountability and deter future violations. The division also will seek commitments from major employers to ensure lasting systemwide compliance.
In addition to enforcement efforts, the division is conducting outreach to workers, employee associations, community organizations, state and local agencies, and other stakeholders to inform them of the ongoing initiative and encourage compliance. The division also is continuing to provide compliance assistance and education to employers, industry associations and state licensing agencies on all applicable regulations.
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 federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its New Orleans office at 504-589-6171. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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