The FLSA authorizes the Secretary of Labor to initiate investigations to determine whether an employer has violated the provisions of the FLSA. The Department of Labor “may investigate and gather data concerning wages, hours, payment of back wages and other employment practices. They may enter and inspect an employer’s premises and records. They may also ask any question of employees to determine whether any person has violated any provisions of the act.” 29 U.S.C. § 211(a).
DOL has identified the following investigative procedures (WH Publication 1340 (Rev. Aug. 1979)) for a compliance officer to use when conducting an investigation. The compliance officer will:
- Identify himself and show the employer official credentials.
- Confer with the employer or a designated representative, making any necessary explanation about the records that need to be seen and the approach to be taken. The compliance officer also will ask the employer’s permission to conduct private interviews with some employees.
- Ask the employer to make space available for his use and to designate some staff member who can help with questions about the employer’s records and payroll system.
- Ask to see certain records to determine what laws apply and what, if any, exemptions are available.
- Review payroll and time records, often on a spot-check basis, and make notes or transcriptions essential to the investigation. Information from the employer’s records will not be revealed to any unauthorized person.
- Interview certain employees privately to confirm payroll or time records, identify workers’ duties in sufficient detail to decide if any exemptions apply, and determine if minors are illegally employed.
When all the fact-finding steps have been completed, the compliance officer will ask to meet with the employer or representative about the investigative findings. If no violations are discovered, the employer is told. If violations were found, the employer is told what they are and how to correct them.