Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
NEW ORLEANS -- A multiyear enforcement initiative conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division targeting child care facilities in northern Louisiana has made a positive impact on employer compliance with and remedied significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions.
Investigations conducted by the division's New Orleans District Office under the initiative during 2012 disclosed that 57 percent of investigated employers were in violation of the FLSA. Back wages totaling $47,673 were recovered for 198 employees of child care facilities, representing a significant decline in comparison with 2011, when 81 percent of all investigated child care employers were found in violation of the FLSA. The 2011 investigations resulted in the recovery of $146,105 in back wages for nearly 680 employees.
"Several employers reported to us that, after hearing news in 2011 about the division's multiyear enforcement initiative, they took immediate steps to review their pay practices and come into compliance with the FLSA," said Cynthia Watson, the Wage and Hour Division's regional administrator in the Southwest. "We are encouraged by such positive feedback from the regulated community and will continue this initiative through 2015 in order to protect workers and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding employers in Louisiana's child care industry."
Common violations by employers uncovered during 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.
Additionally, the division continues to provide compliance assistance and education to Louisiana employers and industry associations regarding the requirements of the FLSA and the consequences of violating the law. The division is conducting outreach to workers, employee associations, community organizations, state licensing agencies and other stakeholders to inform them of the ongoing initiative and encourage participation in promoting industrywide compliance.
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 and Colorado.
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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