EWEP Video

Protecting Essential Workers

The Wage and Hour Division is committed to protecting and enhancing the welfare of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, provide critical worker protections regarding wages and hours worked and job-protected leave during the pandemic.


$100K in Damages for Josue

“I thank DOL, not only for their quick action but for the support the investigator offered, assuring me that something could be done to protect me and my family since I exercised my right to be paid fair wages.” — Josue Siqueira

Read the DOL press release


Severance Pay for Angela

Angela Davis is a former employee of the Detroit Housing Commission (DHC), where she worked as a district assistant manager. Ms. Davis had been employed with DHC for five years before they fired her for initiating FMLA. After WHD's investigation, it was determined that DHC wrongfully terminated Angela and the two parties reached a settlement agreement for severance pay totaling $10,576.92.


Back Wages by Industry

We work hard to ensure working people in the U.S. receive the wages and protections they've earned and that their work is respected. The following back wages are from FY 2021.

More than $38.7M for Workers in Health Care
$36M+ for Workers in Construction
More than $8.4M for Agriculture Workers
More than $13.4M for Retail Workers
More than $34.7M for Workers in Food Service
$6M+ for Workers in Guard Services
More than 190,000 workers helped, More than $230M total backages, and More than 24,700 Compliance actions in FY2021


Essential Workers, Essential Protections

Virtual Outreach and Webinars

Our outreach efforts have become more important as changing circumstances and the challenge reopening of our economy raise new concerns and unique questions relative to the worker protections enforced by our agency.

We have conducted over 4,700 outreach events and reached over 179,000 participants many of these events have been Spanish language seminars.

More than 179,000 participants
70+ listening sessions

Stakeholder Listening Sessions

Earlier this year, we met with more than 500 stakeholders to collect feedback about our access, equity and outreach.

These listening sessions are just one part of our ongoing effort to ensure we meet the needs of the communities we serve and fulfill our mission of protecting essential workers.


$7,600 for Linnie

Employee, Linnie Lynch, contacted the Division to report her employer, AM-PM Express in Griffin, GA, failed to pay proper wages by only paying up to 39 hours per week and paid a flat amount of $312 per week, regardless of actual hours worked, for work being performed as a Deli Worker. The employee was determined to be due $4,700 in minimum wage and $2,900 in overtime compensation.


Taking Care of Caregivers

A Pittsburgh home health care agency misclassified aides as independent contractors and failed to pay required overtime wages. A three-year investigation by WHD resulted in more than $1.6 million in back wages and liquidated damages due to 546 employees.

Read the DOL press release


$138K+ in Overtime Wages for 100 Seafood Industry Workers

OSHA conducted a whistleblower investigation involving seafood processing company Acadia Processors, LLC, located in Crowley, LA and eventually made a referral to WHD’s New Orleans District Office concerning potential overtime violations. The employer had failed to pay accurate half-time premiums to workers paid on a piece-rate basis. It was determined the employer’s overtime payment failures affected 100 vulnerable workers and the employer agreed to payment of $138,629.84 in overtime wages.


WOW Video

Workers Owed Wages

WHD enforces some of our nation's most comprehensive labor laws. When we find violations, we often recover unpaid wages on behalf of employees. If we cannot find an employee, we hold their back wages for three years while we continue our efforts to locate them. After three years, if we remain unable to find the person, we are required to send the money to the U.S. Treasury.

If you think you may be owed back wages collected by WHD, you can search our database of workers for whom we have money waiting to be claimed.


$1,211.70 average back wages for each employee

WHD investigations in fiscal year 2021 found, on average, $1,211.70 for each employee due back wages. For retail cashiers, that means more than three times what they would earn in a typical workweek. Imagine how challenging it would be if you weren’t compensated for three weeks of work. That’s the reality for many workers who don’t get paid what they have earned.

Learn more about back wages found for low wage workers


What Does $1,211.70 Mean

$1,211.70 represents multiple weekly paychecks to typical workers in many industries*

3.3 Weekly paychecks for maids, 2.6 weekly paychecks for janitors, 2.3 weekly paychecks for security guards, 3.1 weekly paychecks for retail, and 2.2 weekly paychecks for landscapers

(*based upon BLS data for median wage rates and weekly hours per occupation)


7+ Weeks of Food

at $165/week

3+ Months of Utilities

at $354/month

1 Month of Rent

at $1,080/month

7+ Weeks of Child Care

at $168/week

(*based upon BLS data for median wage rates and weekly hours per occupation)

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