Every year thousands of employees submit various labor law claims to the Department of Labor. The labor law claims touch on various areas of the law such as Wage and Hour Law violations like overtime and minimum wage problems or family medical leave law violations. Faced with an overwhelming number of complaints, the Department of Labor has teamed with the American Bar Association to create a program that refers labor claims placed with the Labor Department with attorneys in private practice.
The Department of Labor and American Bar Association program is called Bridge to Justice, and the program puts workers with claims the Labor Department is not able to handle with private attorneys that practice employment and labor law. Last fiscal year employees in the United States filed over 40,000 complaints with the Labor Department’s wage and hour division.
The Labor Department added hundreds of additional investigators over the last two years, but the Labor Department is still not able to keep up with the number of claims. Faced with a finite amount of resources the Labor Department takes up cases that will have the greatest impact on the largest number of workers instead of investigating every single claim. Since the wage and hour division is not able to work on about one in 10 complaints that is where the Bridge to Justice program comes in.
Workers who are referred to the program are provided with a toll-free number that directs them to an ABA-approved lawyer referral service. One low-wage worker advocate is a fan of the program because she believes there is a large need to enforce basic wage and hour laws.
Source: The Kansas City Star, “Labor Department inundated with worker complaints,” Eileen Ambrose, 3/22/11