Looking over your shoulder: Department of Labor Audits

The prospect of a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) audit should always be on the mind of employers. As the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes, an audit usually starts with an employee complaint to the Department of Labor. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division accepts employee tips via email, telephone or in person, and employees can file complaints free of charge. Both low- and high-wage industries can be subject to Department of Labor audits for hour and wage violations. According to SHRM, if the Department of Labor requests an audit, all you can do is ask the auditor for time to gather your records. It’s critical to touch base with the auditor to find out and what they will be looking for. Ask about what violations are being examined, and then gather your records accordingly, making sure all your related information is accurate. Be prepared to offer more documentation when the auditor requests it.

However, it's important to note that the Department of Labor doesn't have to tell employers in advance of an investigation, "although in many instances the investigator will advise an employer prior to opening the investigation," the DOL notes on its website.  Auditors, the Department of Labor notes, have "sufficient latitude to initiate unannounced investigations in many cases in order to directly observe normal business operations and develop factual information quickly."

So should an audit occur, what is a company to do? SHRM suggests that a company delegate employees to assist the auditor. According to SHRM, these representatives should provide the required documents and get any additional records the auditor may require. More than anything, a firm must always make it clear it has nothing to hide during a Department of Labor audit.

At the end of the audit, remember to ask the auditor to give you with summary of the results so you’re aware of any violations that he or she found, SHRM suggests. According to the Department of Labor, companies "may present additional facts for consideration if violations were disclosed," which gives firms another way to defend themselves.

Contact The Plexus Groupe LLC today at plexusgroupe.com to learn more about our capabilities to help your company defend against Department of Labor audits or complaints.



Society for Human Resource Management. "Audit: What should I expect from a Department of Labor audit?  Sept. 12, 2012. Accessed September 16, 2015.


United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. "Fact Sheet No. 44: Visits to Employers."


U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. "Frequently Asked Questions."