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Federal agents posing as workers have completed an undercover investigation of the Department of Labor (DOL) that has resulted in claims that the department frequently mishandles serious worker complaints, placing many workers at risk. The outcome of the investigation is detailed in a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found DOL mishandled nine out of the 10 cases included in the undercover operation.
The report, which is scheduled to be released on March 25, found that the agency’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) not only failed to properly investigate wage and hour complaints, but also ignored a complaint that underage children were working at a California meatpacking plant during school hours, a violation of a number of labor laws.
GAO filed 10 common complaints with WHD district offices across the country. The undercover tests revealed “sluggish response times, a poor complaint intake process and failed conciliation attempts, among other problems,” said GAO in its report. “In one case, a WHD investigator lied about investigative work performed and did not investigate GAO’s fictitious complaint. At the end of the undercover tests, GAO was still waiting for WHD to begin investigating three cases – a delay of nearly 5, 4 and 2 months, respectively.