Federal Wage and Hour Division Enforcement Collections Highest in Decade;FMLA Enforcement Also Increased

Saturday, March 1, 2003
by Jackson Lewis

Enforcement efforts at the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in 2002 yielded the largest amount of backpay awards in the past ten years. According to recently released statistics, the Division collected more than $175 million in back wages, a 33 % increase over fiscal year 2001. In addition to the increase in total collections, nearly 50,000 more workers, a total of 264,000, received back wages in 2002.

The agency completed 40,264 compliance actions in fiscal year 2002, a 6 % increase over the 38,051 completed actions in fiscal year 2001. Three-quarters of the concluded cases were initiated by a complaint, as opposed to agency action. The number of newly registered complaints climbed by 2,400. Not surprisingly, Wage and Hour Division employees logged close to 1.1 million enforcement hours in 2002, marking the first increase in that number since 1992. The only decreasing numbers in 2002 were in the assessment of civil monetary penalties, which declined by 14% to just over $9,000,000.

Family and Medical Leave Act Enforcement Also Increased

In enforcing the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Wage and Hour Division collected over $3.7 million in back wages in fiscal year 2002, 25% more than 2001 collections. Complaint investigations concluded and violations found also showed increases

More than 3,500 complaints of FMLA violations were filed in FY 2002, marking an increase of more than 700 complaints from 2001. Allegations of unlawful termination - more than 1,500 in 2002 -- far exceeded other charges of refusal to grant leave, refusal to restore to an equivalent position, failure to maintain health benefits, or discriminatory conduct. In slightly fewer cases, violations were found (1,735) than not (1,766).
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