Naughty or Nice List

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How FLSA Violations Will Be Shared on Social Media

We’re a group of labor employment lawyers. We can give you our very best advice, and vigorously represent your interests in a labor or employment dispute with your employer.

However, we are not app-creators.

That being said, we can’t resist commenting on a challenge issued by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to develop a smartphone application providing “consumers with information…about which businesses have treated their workers fairly and lawfully…”. Specifically, the DOL introduces its “Fair Labor Data Challenge”.

In short, the Department of Labor wants to create a “Naughty or Nice” app.

Now I believe it. There is an app for everything! Check it out for yourself.

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Naughty and Nice Businesses Shared on Social Media

The Department of Labor (as many other federal agencies) has long kept its own “Naughty or Nice” list. They’ve also hinted over the years that shame and public humiliation are useful enforcement tools.

The goal of the challenge is to introduce enforcement data and violations histories to social media applications, such as:

  • Google+
  • City Search
  • Google Maps

In other words, the DOL wants to bring the “Naughty or Nice” list into the 21st Century, with an emphasis on ease of use, creativity, “being pleasing to the eye” and multi-platform application.

Benefits of Sharing FLSA Violations

On the lookout for the “good guys” with whom to do business, the “nice” employers may find this app useful as:

  • Job seekers
  • Consumers
  • Patrons
  • Customers

On the other hand, the “naughty” employers face judgment (thumbs down, low ratings or other low ratings on these sites) as consumers may take into account fairness with employees as they decide with whom to do business.

Will You Report FLSA Violations?

The app idea raises many interesting questions about the direction of the DOL as it adopts social media as an enforcement (or prevention) tool and the extent to which public opinion shapes behavior. The challenge made me wonder:

  • Would you put your employer on the naughty or nice list?
  • Has your employer met its obligations under the FLSA?
  • Do you know of violations of the FLSA in your workplace?
  • Have you complained about violations of the law and suffered retaliation as a result?
  • Have you been worried that a complaint may get you fired?
  • Do you think that people will participate in the ratings offered by the social media?
  • Do you think these ratings (in effect, an anonymous complaint) will change employer behavior?
  • Do you think consumers would consider compliance with the FLSA and safety laws when choosing with whom to do business?
  • How would an employer’s compliance track record influence you when you look for a job- or a restaurant, merchant, contractor, landlord?

So, are you up for the challenge? (Hint: The Deadline for entries is October 11, 2013).

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We will stick to the business we know best – advising our clients on their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Labor Standards Act and other employment-related laws, rules and regulations.

But when that app is up and running, we’ll be checking the list, not once but twice, to see who’s naughty or nice.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about whether your employer is being “naughty”, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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