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The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing some of the nation’s most comprehensive federal labor laws. The workers who are protected by these laws often want to know: How do we do what we do?

Many investigations are initiated by complaints, which are confidential. The name of the complainant, the nature of the complaint, and whether a complaint exists may not be disclosed. An employer cannot retaliate against a worker for exercising their rights, filing a complaint or cooperating with an investigation.

Complaint Process

  1. Gather Information

    Gather Information

    Gather information you will need to file your complaint. While third-party complainants may not be able to provide all the information needed, the more information made available the better we can address concerns raised.

  2. Decide How to File

    Decide How to File

    Reach out to us online or call 1-866-487-9243.

  3. We Work with You

    We Work with You

    We will work with you to answer your questions and determine whether an investigation is the best course of action.


In addition to complaints, we select certain types of businesses or industries for investigation. We target low-wage industries, for example, because of high rates of violations or egregious violations, the employment of vulnerable workers, or rapid changes in an industry, such as growth or decline.

Here’s a breakdown of our typical investigation processes, regardless of whether the investigation starts from a complaint or an agency-initiated investigation:

Investigation Process

  1. Initial Conference

    Initial Conference

    Our investigator holds an initial conference with the employer and/or the employer’s representative and tours the employer’s establishment.

  2. Conducting Interview

    Conducting Interviews

    Our investigator interviews employees in private.

  3. Reviewing Records

    Reviewing Records

    The WHD investigator reviews the employer’s records to determine compliance.

  4. Final Conference

    Final Conference

    We hold a final conference with the employer and/or the employer’s representative to discuss any violations found and how to correct them. If back wages are owed to employees, the investigator will request payment of back wages.

If you have questions or concerns, you can call us at 1-866-487-9243 or visit You will be directed to the nearest WHD office for assistance. There are WHD offices throughout the country with trained professionals to help you.