Reporting Labor Law Violations
What is the US Department of Labor?
The United States Department of Labor is a department within the US federal government. They are responsible for various labor laws including those related to occupational safety, wage and hour standards, and collection of some economic statistics. There are federal laws that pertain to labor; however, each state has their own laws and additional requirements.
Working off the clock
There are several ways that employees may find themselves working off the clock. One common way for healthcare professions (gathered via informal reports to Gray Matter Therapy) is making the decision to work off the clock in order to fit all work into the employee’s day and avoid overtime (as required by company) or to improve the employee’s productivity (percentage of billable time compared to all hours worked). In both of these situations, employees should be having conversations with their supervisors regarding their workload and ability to complete that work in a paid workday.
Another way employees may be working off the clock and not realize it is by working through breaks. It is not uncommon for therapists to either see a patient at lunch or attend a meeting during the lunch hour. If an employee isn’t clocking out for lunch, the employee should be getting paid throughout the entire time they are clocked in, right? Employees should be getting paid for all hours worked; however, it is not an uncommon practice for companies to add a lunch break (aka unpaid time) to an employee’s day if they work a specific number of hours. This is to support meeting laws about minimum length of lunch breaks. (Learn more about your state’s minimum length of meal period.) Employees should check with their employer to find out what the company policies and procedures are for lunch breaks. If a lunch break is automatically added with an employee works a full day, there should be a manual process to indicate an employee worked without a lunch break and therefore should get paid for the whole day.
Consider this quote from the FLSA Hours Worked Advisor: “An employer cannot sit back and accept the benefits of an employee’s work without considering the time spent to be hours worked. Merely making a rule against such work is not enough. The employer has the power to enforce the rule and must make every effort to do so.”
How to file a complaint
Depending on the specific law violation, employees can contact their state of federal department of labor. Find your state’s labor office. The process for each state will vary. Learn more about the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the process for filing complaints.