Labor Standards Enforcement Webinar: Strategic Enforcement

On December 20, 2017, CLASP and CIWO convened experts for a webinar on for labor standards enforcement agency officials and advocates. 

Our presenters for the webinar were:

  • Dr. David Weil, Dean and Professor, Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, former Wage and Hour Administrator
  • Renika Moore, Labor Bureau Chief, Office of the New York State Attorney General
  • Resa Spaziani, Field Supervisor for the Wage and Workplace Standards Department, Connecticut Department of Labor, Division of Wage and Workplace Standards
  • Donna Nass, Wage and Hour Investigator, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development

The increasingly complex structure of the U.S. employment relationships, changes in firm and industry structures, resource limitations, and the political climate, have made traditional approaches to enforcement less effective. Pressures to cut costs and limit liability have led to the “fissuring” of employment relationships through subcontracting, franchising, increased use of fixed-term contracts, temporary staffing agencies, and independent contracting arrangements. Subcontractors and franchisees are pushed to cut costs wherever they can, low-road practices have become normalized across many sectors, and vulnerable workers are often afraid to complain. Too often, a firm that wants to maintain higher labor standards is placed at a formidable competitive disadvantage.

In recent years, the Wage and Hour Division at the US DOL tackled the challenges of fissuring and low complaint levels through strategic enforcement initiatives that target investigations in industries where workers are most likely to experience wage theft or health and safety violations but least likely to report such violations. Strategic enforcement takes account of industry-specific business models, dynamics, and regulations with the goal of creating “ripple effects” that will influence the compliance behavior of a number of employers at once. The strategy looks at entire industry sectors rather than individual workplaces alone and identifies multiple levers to hold entities, including companies at the top of supply chains, accountable for compliance. How do interested agencies with limited resources get started? Agencies will hear from their peers about efforts to target specific industries and come away with concrete ideas to improve their enforcement approaches.

View the slides here