Friday, March 27, 2009

GAO: Labor Department Bungles, Ignores Complaints

An Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation found the federal Labor Department regularly bungles its handling of complaints from workers who say their bosses are cheating them on overtime pay or committing other labor violations:

The probe by the Government Accountability Office says agency officials often took too long to respond to complaints, failed to record them and, in one instance, lied about investigative work that was never performed.

Undercover investigators tested the intake process and found the Labor Department mishandled nine out of 10 of the fake complaints.

Some complaints, including one of children operating heavy equipment and another of an employee never receiving a paycheck, were never even entered into the department's database, as required. Complaints which were entered into the database were sometimes falsely marked as resolved.

Overall, the GAO reported lapses including slow response times, failure to record complaints in a database, failure to use all available enforcement tools because of a lack of resources and failure to follow up with employers.

On the plus side, the investigation found that once complaints were recorded in the agency's database and assigned to a case investigator were dealt with appropriately.


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