With the curtain falling on President Barack Obama’s administration and rising on President-elect Donald Trump’s, the U.S. Department of Labor could look very different at the end of next year. Trump’s pick for secretary of labor, Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, has a history of criticizing the sorts of labor and employment regulations, such as the expansion of overtime eligibility to more workers, that the department under current Secretary Thomas Perez has worked to promote. But the DOL has been busy in its last year under Obama and Perez. Here’s a look at the agency’s 2016 by the numbers:
$266 Million +
The amount of money in back wages that the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division secured for more than 280,000 workers in fiscal year 2016, according to recently released enforcement data. This is an 8.1 percent increase from more than $246 million last year. Back pay, the difference between what a worker was paid and what they should have been paid under an applicable law, is a frequent remedy obtained by Labor Department enforcers in lawsuits involving alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and other statutes.
The sum that two Massachusetts companies agreed under a consent judgment to pay in total back wages and damages to 478 employees to settle one of the biggest cases brought by the department this year for violations of the FLSA. The Wage and Hour Division charged that Force Corp., a construction company, and AB Construction Group Inc., a company created to provide much of the labor for Force Corp., misclassified many workers as independent contractors instead of full-time employees, depriving them of overtime and other benefits.
The number of workplace safety violations that the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and its inspectors found in workplaces across the U.S. in fiscal year 2016, a 7.9 percent drop from 65,044 in the previous year. Despite the reduction, the workplace safety regulator has imposed some big fines this year, most recently against an auto parts company in Alabama, Ajin USA, as well as two staffing agencies that worked with the company. OSHA announced on Dec. 14 that the three would pay more than $2.5 million in fines for 27 safety violations, including exposing workers to crushing and amputation hazards, an issue that allegedly led to the death of an employee in June.