Violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) now come with harsher penalties. According to a recent announcement by the US Department of Labor (DOL), when negotiating settlements with employers in violation of the law, they will return to a policy of seeking “double damages.”
Typically the DOL will first attempt to reach a voluntary settlement when an investigation has determined that an employer is in violation of the FLSA. In part with agreeing to pay future wages in accordance with the FLSA, the settlement usually includes paying back wages for two years prior. That said, during the Obama administration, the DOA also sought liquidated damages in the amount equal to the unpaid wages due. These “double damages,” in most instances, effectively doubled the back wages to the employees that were entitled. Under the Trump administration, however, it was announced that in many instances the DOL would not assess any pre-litigation liquidated damages.
Now, the DOL is turning back yet again under the Biden administration. In a bulletin released on April 9th of 2021, the DOL announced that it will in fact return to assessing pre-litigation liquidation damages during any investigations provided that the designated Regional Solicitor (RSOL) agrees with the request. Alternatively, if the RSOL determines the matter to be not appropriate for litigation or the employer under investigation presents credible evidence of a good-faith defense, the DOL will not assess liquidated damages.