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DOL spotlight: workers, wage claims and employer retaliation

Here's a point that comes through with crystal clarity in a recent federal blog post authored in tandem by two U.S. Department of Labor administrators: some seriously high wattage will power the beam focused by federal regulators on any wage-based claim featuring allegations of employer retaliation.

In other words: Under such a spotlight, you likely don't want to be the employer undergoing government scrutiny.

Because it's going to be exactingly thorough and probing, say the writers, especially if you operate in an industry that readily avails itself of relatively disadvantaged workers.

Spelled out in detail, that means "where many vulnerable, low-wage workers are employed." The restaurant industry comes quickly to mind. The authors additionally point to hotel-related labor, agricultural work and temp placements.

In doing so, they forcefully state that federal regulators "will use every enforcement tool available … to stop illegal, even threatening behavior, in order to protect workers."

A caveat to address something left unsaid by the writers might be reasonably inserted here, driven by the need to ensure that justice is achieved in every grievance-related employment matter.

And that is this: Just as some employers in Connecticut and elsewhere across the United States do engage in bad-faith behavior that purposefully seeks to undercut employees' legitimate workplace rights and thus undermine their benefits, many do not.

In fact, conscientious and well-meaning business principals sometimes find themselves being targeted for underhanded business behavior that they either had no intention of engaging in or, indeed, avoided entirely.

The bottom line regarding employment-based legal matters is that both employers and workers have legal claim and interests, as well as rights that need to be protected in a given case.

A proven business law firm with a deep well of experience representing both business managers and employees in labor matters can help them do that.

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