DOL Recovered Record $322 Million in Wages in FY 2019

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

October 31, 2019

The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor has announced that in Fiscal Year 2019 it recovered a record $322 million of wages owed to workers. WHD enforces the federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The record level of collections continues a trend of increasing recovery amounts of back pay each year since FY 2014. Since then, the WHD has recovered $1.65 billion in back wages, most on behalf of employees in low wage industries, including food service, retail, construction and agriculture, where the greatest number of cases were filed.

FY 2019 $322 million
FY 2018 $304 million
FY 2017 $270 million
FY 2016 $267 million
FY 2015 $247 million
FY 2014 $240 million
FY 2013 $249 million
FY 2012 $280 million

The amounts recovered in FY 2019 came to an average $1,025 for each employee owed back wages, data from the report showed. WHD Administrator Cheryl Stanton said that the results emphasize the division's efforts to deliver a level playing field for employers and employees.

"We are delivering more back wages for workers than ever before, and we are steadfastly eliminating any unfair economic advantage employers may try to gain by skirting the rules," Stanton said. "We are protecting those who do the right thing, pay their employees what they have legally earned, and operate in compliance."

In response to the report, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said, "These record-breaking numbers top the Department's totals from last year, which also set records, and confirm our ongoing commitment to strong enforcement and to providing employers with the tools they need to comply with the law."

The announcement also noted that the WHD held more than 3,700 educational outreach events to assist employers in understanding their responsibilities under the laws administered by the division. In addition to the FLSA, WHD also enforces the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, and the wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act.