I’m in D.C. this week attending the American Staffing Association’s annual Staffing Law Conference.

The Government Speaks

The conference kicked off with a session entitled The Regulators Speak: Enforcement Agendas of the DOL, EEOC and DOJ. The talk lived up to its title as high-ranking officials from each agency detailed their plans for 2012. They can best be summed up in three words:

ENFORCEMENT
ENFORCEMENT
ENFORCEMENT

It’s 187% clear that the government will continue to pursue systemic class-action-type cases against employers that run afoul of wage and hour, anti-discrimination and immigration laws.

In just one example, this week the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a suit brought by the DOL against GlaxoSmithKline. In a case that could result in billions of dollars of legal exposure for the pharmaceutical industry, the DOL alleges that GSK misclassified loads of sales reps as “outside sales” personnel exempt from overtime. GSK vehemently disagrees. A decision is expected sometime in June.

Big Big Numbers

Debate over the GSK case and the government’s aggressive enforcement agenda has brought lots of interesting facts to the fore, such as:

  • Lawsuits are up 32% over the past five years.
  • The DOL added 300 new wage and hour investigators over the last two years, increasing its staff by 40% to 1,050.
  • The DOL recovered $225 million in back pay last year, a 28% increase over 2010.
  • 7,006 wage and hour suits were filed in federal court last year, almost four times as many as in 2000.

The Message?

It couldn’t be any clearer: Now is not the time to risk violating the law.

To help you avoid becoming part of the government’s burgeoning enforcement statistics, here are the Blawg’s handy cheat sheets on every major employment law in the universe, including wage and hour, anti-discrimination and immigration. Print ‘em out and memorize every line. Please.

(Sources: DOL, Seyfarth Shaw, The Californian.com)