As of the writing of this article, we’ve had at least 10 gins have Wage and Hour investigations in the region. AL, NC, SC and GA offices all have investigations started or have sent notice requesting the gin to gather information to begin an investigation. So far all of these investigations have been virtual…or at least they’re starting that way.
Mike Rios, the head of enforcement in the region recently stated at the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Labor Relations Forum, that they are doing most of their investigations virtually but that hasn’t stopped from many either beginning as in-person or moving to in-person during the course of the investigation. So, don’t think you’re out of the woods with a virtual investigation.
We’re often asked what to expect. In these days with virtual investigations, we’re not 100% sure. I can tell you what typically happens during a on-site investigation and since the desired outcome is the same, it would follow that they’re going to try to get to the same information and areas virtually. This puts even more pressure on you as the employer. Most of what I’m going to mention is speculation so treat it as such.
Most regulatory agencies that do on-site inspections are asking for additional materials such as photos and videos of a location. Do not be surprised if, at some point, the wage and hour investigator asks for a video tour (maybe Facetime, Zoom etc) of the housing. Or they may ask for photos. If such materials are asked for, make sure you have copies or are recording the video tour. This goes with keeping a lot or record of all the documents you send them. The reason to keep track of all of this is the ability to bring an attorney up to speed quickly if the investigation needs it.
IF you are asked to take pictures of your poster board or the posters in your housing… make sure you have the key posters on the wall. Minimum Wage, Migrant and Seasonal Worker Poster, H2A if you have H-2A Workers are the most commonly cited missing posters at the workplace and Housing WH-521 must be given to or posted at the housing. All of these posters can be found on the DOL website.
If you are expecting a walk through (you should expect one if you have migrant worker housing) then use the WH-519b checklist (you really need to be familiar with this checklist) to make sure your housing is clean and up to standards. Regardless of whether it was PERFECT when you started getting crews in, the housing must meet this checklist all season. Make sure the conditions are good before you start the walkthrough. Simple things like lids on trash cans, eggs on the counter, missing screens are easily overlooked by us and just as easily picked up on a video or photos by an inspector. Don’t give them the easy ones.
I hope this information is helpful. If you are getting one of these inspections, please let us know how it’s going. We are trying to keep up with all of these. Give us a call if you have quesitons.