In a welcome departure from its recent practice, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently issued its first new opinion letters in almost ten years. In addition to issuing three new opinion letters earlier this month, on January 5, 2018, WHD reissued seventeen opinion letters previously withdrawn under the Obama administration.
The resurrection of this practice offers employers a useful tool to ensure compliance with federal employment laws. Prior to the Obama administration, the WHD had a longstanding practice of issuing opinion letters in response to inquiries from employers concerning the application of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other laws enforced by the WHD. These letters have traditionally provided guidance to both employers and employees concerning compliance with the laws and regulations under WHD’s purview. Significantly, for employers, good faith reliance upon WHD’s opinion letters can provide a defense to potential claims of a violation of the FLSA or other laws under the WHD’s jurisdiction. Continue Reading