Jamieson: How Elaine Chao’s Labor Department Failed to Protect At-Risk Workers

Labor News

Reprinted from The Huffington Post by Dave Jamieson on November 30, 2016.

“Watchdogs with the Government Accountability Office set up a sneaky test for the Labor Department in 2008,” writes Dave Jamieson for The Huffington Post. “They wanted to know how well the agency was investigating complaints of wage theft and child labor ― some of its most fundamental responsibilities ― so they filed a bunch of fake complaints, then checked to see if investigators actually looked into them.

“The findings were not pretty. A devastating report issued by the GAO, which is the official investigative arm of Congress, detailed how the Labor Department’s wage-and-hour division mishandled nine of the 10 fake complaints that were filed. They discovered ‘sluggish response times, a poor complaint intake process, and failed conciliation attempts, among other problems.’

“’In one case, [an] investigator lied about investigative work performed and did not investigate GAO’s fictitious complaint,’ the congressional testimony states. ‘At the end of the undercover tests, GAO was still waiting for [the department] to begin investigating three cases — a delay of nearly 5, 4, and 2 months, respectively.’

“The findings weren’t any more heartening when the watchdogs looked into real complaints. Auditors found 20 cases that weren’t handled properly, affecting more than 1,000 workers. In many of those cases, workers waited more than a year after filing their complaint before hearing back from an investigator. …

Huffington Post 11/30

About Jeffrey Burman 2743 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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