$274 million recovered for 163,000 workers

Protecting Workers' Rights

The Wage and Hour Division is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the welfare of the nation’s workforce with a focus on low-wage, underserved workers. In fiscal year 2023, we successfully recovered over $274 million in back wages and damages for more than 163,000 workers nationwide.


Child Labor Enforcement: Keeping Young Workers Safe

Prioritizing the safety of children at work has always been our top priority. In FY 2023, we concluded 955 investigations, identifying child labor violations affecting nearly 5,800 children. Penalties assessed for these violations exceeded $8 million.


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.

More than 10.3 Million for workers in health care
35.5 Million for workers in construction
More than 6.8 Million for agriculture workers
More than 8.3 Million for retail workers
More than 29.6 Million for workers in food service
12 Million for workers in building services


Jeannie’s Courage to Stand Up for Her Rights Paid Off

Jeannie, a home care worker in New Hampshire and Vermont, faced retaliation after receiving back wages from a WHD investigation. But after she received those hard-earned wages, her employer allegedly asked her to return the money, also known as a kickback. In all, we have recovered more than $1 million for care workers at the same company from 2018 to 2023.

Jeannie’s Courage to Stand Up for Her Rights Paid Off


Working for You

4,500+ outreach events, 450,000+ participants

Outreach and Webinars

Our outreach initiatives addressed emerging concerns, delivering compliance assistance and workers' rights information. In the past year, we conducted 4,500 events, engaging over 450,000 individuals.

Answering Your Call

Our work is fueled by our employees’ shared passion to serve you. For assistance or reporting violations, call 1-866-4-US-WAGE. In FY 2023, we received more than 988,000 calls, providing support in over 200 languages.

More than 988,000 answered phone calls



A Few Brave Construction Workers Spoke Up. Now Hundreds Get $3.6 Million in Back Pay.

Workers at a painting and roofing company in Arizona and Nevada, including Cristian, spoke out against unjust conditions like low pay, lack of overtime and intimidation. Despite attempts to silence them, courageous employees, including Cristian, spoke out.


Upholding FMLA Rights: A Triumph Over Unlawful Job Loss

When Tracy's son, Jerron, lost his job during his protected medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), we stepped in to help. Our investigators found violations and secured over $12,000 in back wages, $5,000 in medical expenses, and reinstated Jerron's job.



Workers Owed Wages

In FY 2023, we disbursed over $26.9 million through the WOW system, benefiting more than 3,972 workers. Check if you are owed unpaid wages.

When we find violations, our focus is on recovering unpaid wages for employees. In cases where we are unable to locate an employee, we securely hold their back wages for a three-year period, persistently working to find them. If, after three years, our efforts prove unsuccessful, we are obligated to transfer the funds to the U.S. Treasury.


$1273 Average back wages for each employee

WHD investigations in fiscal year 2023 found, on average, $1,297 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.


What Does $1,297 Mean

$1,297 represents multiple weekly paychecks to typical workers in many industries*

3 Weekly paychecks for a maid or housekeeper, 2.5 weekly paychecks for a janitor, 2.2 for a security guard, 3.1 for a retail cashier, 2 for a landscaper

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


5+ Weeks of Groceries

3+ Months of Utilities

1+ Month of Rent

7+ Weeks of Childcare

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

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