U.S. Department of Labor Educates Southeast Employers As Region Faces Hurricane Season
ATLANTA, GA – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is currently engaged in an education and compliance assistance initiative to help employers in the Southeast understand their obligations to employees during natural disaster recovery efforts.
In recent years, hurricanes have significantly affected states across the southeast, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. When contractors and others involved in recovery and rebuilding respond to these events, WHD often sees spikes in wage violations. From Oct. 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020, WHD’s Southeast Region conducted more than 200 investigations in response to hurricane disaster relief. The investigations resulted in more than $1.9 million in back wages owed to more than 2,400 workers and assessments of more than $123,000 in civil money penalties.
In addition to its enforcement efforts, WHD continues to conduct extensive educational outreach to stakeholders. These efforts have already included:
- Direct outreach to local Chambers of Commerce in the areas directly affected by past storms; and
- Targeted webinars in coordination with the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Navy to discuss prevailing wage requirements for contractors who win contracts and receive federal funds to perform recovery work.
“As the hurricane season continues, the Wage and Hour Division will monitor any natural disaster recovery efforts to ensure employers are following the rules and paying employees properly,” said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Juan Coria in Atlanta, Georgia. “At times when employers need a level playing field and workers need their earned wages most, we will continue to both educate all parties and enforce the law. We encourage employers and other stakeholders to contact us with questions. Confidential calls to our offices are answered by trained professionals ready to help.”
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos and confidential calls to local WHD offices.
For more information about the Fair Labor Standards Act and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers that discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.