School Districts, Municipalities, Counties, States, and Public Institutions
School districts, municipalities, counties, state agencies, and public institutions often encounter circumstances that cause them to have inadvertent but expensive compliance failures. Common FLSA difficulties concern "white collar" and computer specialist exemption classification, correct application of §§ 7(k) and 13(b)(20) exemptions, employment relationship, joint employment, dual jobs, hours worked determinations, overtime compensation computation, and compensatory-time practices.
The DOL Wage and Hour Division investigates public agencies for FLSA compliance. Violations are typically found, and back wage recovery is the usual result. The investigative procedure is burdensome for the agency's managers and officials, and expensive because of back wages. Fees paid to outside counsel add to the cost of dealing with the investigation. Depending on the circumstances, civil money penalties might also be assessed. Unwanted publicity stems from a DOL investigation, and this is an embarrasment to elected officials and agency managers. If an investigation is not resolved at the administrative level, there is a good chance that DOL attorneys will file suit.
Private litigation (employee suits for back wages) has been a concern of public agencies for four decades. However, such suits have increased dramatically since 1999. Plaintiffs' attorneys have become very knowledgeable of the types of FLSA mistakes usually found in public agencies, particularly school districts, municipalities, and county government. FLSA suits against public agencies usually evolve into "collective actions" on behalf of numerous opt-in employees. The expenses of judgments and settlements (back wages, liquidated damages, and legal costs) are substantial. As with DOL investigations, litigation results in unwanted publicity.
Consultation with Morris can be very beneficial to school districts and other public agencies and institutions, whether it is to help you in the resolution of immediate questions, perform a compliance evaluation, or determine the validity of DOL assertions if you are being investigated.
Hassles and expenses may be avoided or reduced by obtaining expert help prior to or during a DOL enforcement action. If litigation is involved, Morris is able to work with your attorney as a consulting expert.
Summary of Services Available to Public Agencies
Resolution of questions concerning how employment and compensation practices are affected by the FLSA, records to be maintained, and pay calculation methods
Compliance review and evaluation
Self-audit coordination and supervision
Second opinion services when asked to review conclusions reached by others
Guidance, technical assistance, and advice - in the preparation for and survival of a Wage and Hour Division investigation or other type of enforcement procedure
Computation of back wages; or develop formulae, create worksheet templates, prepare instructions, coordinate computations with the agency's accounting department, and examine results for accuracy and proper methodology
Provide FLSA compliance training that is specific to the client's needs
Services are available nationally (via telephone conferences and email), including FLSA,Service Contract Act, and Davis-Bacon Act consultation, compliance assistance, DOL investigation guidance, self-audit coordination, and litigation support as a consulting expert.