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With so much focus these days on fair labor and decent wages, the Fair Labor Standards Act is getting a workout – and it’s being put to the test.  Employers are double checking their policies to ensure compliance.  Everything from working through lunch to taking training courses after hours and not being compensated for the time is fair game for employees who feel they’re being treated unfairly.  Employers are concerned, and for good reason, says attorney A. Harrison Barnes, who’s also the founder and president of  “There’s a reason the Department of Labor has hired 250 new employees across the nation”, he explains.  “The goal is to investigate the growing number of wage and hour complaints”.

As a result of these complaints, the Labor Department just unveiled its “We Can Help” initiative.  The goal is to ensure workers in every industry and in every state know their rights.  They also hope to encourage those who are facing wage or other disparities to come forward.  So thorough is this effort that the website is loaded with useful information for employees who might be too afraid to come forward.  Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is starring in public service announcements in an effort to get the message out there.   Rest assured, law firms are reporting “explosive growth” in the number of wage and hour lawsuits.

If you’re unsure whether or not your company is in violation of any employment laws, A. Harrison Barnes recommends consulting with counsel so that any uncertainties can be addressed.  Further, the founder explains, new numbers suggest more than 85% of the workforce is not exempt form FLSA guidelines.  That’s an alarming number since many employers assume salaried employees don’t enjoy those same protections as hourly or non-exempt employees do.

Barnes recommends possible internal training programs to educate not only management but your employees as well.  It’s difficult to fix something that you weren’t even aware was broken, but most certainly in this case, a proactive approach is going to be much better than a reactive one after it’s  been discovered your company is not in compliance.  Other suggestions include speaking with employees one on one, asking for feedback and reiterating your commitment to your employees.  Barnes says not doing everything possible is risky business and as many companies are now discovering, it’s an expensive mistake, too.

As mentioned, the United States Department of Labor just unveiled a new website specifically for this growing problem.  On it, employers and employees will find a lot of useful information, including fact sheets and government statements.  Phone numbers and other contact information is being made available as well.  Employers are encouraged to download or order the many “We Can Help” posters and pamphlets available and finally, the Freedom of Information Act is included on the site.  It can be accessed by pointing your browser to

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