Fair Labor Standards Act; Family and Medical Leave Act

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Lawsuits Against Employers may be on the Rise

The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“Wage and Hour Division”) has stepped up its efforts by connecting employees with plaintiff lawyers to assist the employees in bringing private actions against their employers. As such, the employment law defense attorneys at our firm are alerting our business clients that they may face increased FLSA and FMLA claims in 2011.

The Wage and Hour Division is now utilizing an Attorney Referral System to connect employees to lawyers with experience in representing employees against their employers for alleged violations of hourly and overtime pay and/or allegations of violations of time off under the FMLA. Beginning December 13th of 2010, when an employee pursuing a claim under the FLSA or the FMLA is notified that the Wage and Hour Division is declining to pursue the claim, the employee has also received the toll-free number to the ABA-Approved Attorney Referral System.  If the employee calls this number, the employee is informed of the ABA-approved Lawyer Referral and Information Service providers in the employee’s area.  Furthermore, if the Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation, the letter notifying the employee that the claim is not going to be pursued will also provide the employee with information concerning the Wage and Hour Division’s determination of the violations at issue and the back wages owed.  The Wage and Hour Division has also created a streamlined process for employees and their attorneys to promptly obtain relevant case information and documentation without the necessity of going through the cumbersome Freedom of Information Act requirements.
Importantly, this is not the first attempt by the Wage and Hour Division to promote compliance and enforcement of the FLSA and the FMLA, as, according to the Wage and Hour Division, “over the past two years, the Wage and Hour Division has added 350 new investigators and stepped up its efforts to help these workers through both complaint-driven and targeted enforcement.” 
If you are facing allegations of FLSA or FMLA violations, or, if you have any questions concerning compliance with the FLSA, the FMLA or any other employment related matter, the attorneys to contact at this firm are Madeline S. Wirt and Emily C. Bagwell.  
For further information see:
http://www.dol.gov/Wage and Hour Division/resources/ABAReferralPolicy.htm

Written by: James M. Wright, Associate Attorney
This bulletin provides a general summary of recent legal developments. It is not intended to be and should not be relied upon as legal advice.