Employer Compliance Alert: Gov't Data Sharing Highlights Need for Proactive Measures


By: Kelly Eisenlohr-Moul
As every employer knows all too well, there are a litany of governmental agencies which may come calling in the event of alleged employment violations, including: the Department of Labor (DOL), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Each of these agencies traditionally operated independently, enforced separate sets of labor and employment related laws, and caused their own unique headaches.
The notable government trend, however, is formal cooperation among these entities through contracts called “Memorandums of Understanding” (MOU).  These contracts allow the relevant agencies to:

  • Share information in their electronic databases;
  • Refer matters to each other; and
  • Coordinate investigations

The effects of this information sharing are beginning to be felt by employers.  For instance, employers flagged for alleged E-Verify violations by ICE can now reasonably expect that the DOL or DOJ will come calling to conduct “collateral inquires” (usually another audit).
From a practical perspective, this increased attunement among agencies raises the stakes on compliance with labor and employment laws and regulations.  What may appear to be an innocuous interaction with the DOL could blow up into a contentious battle with the OSC.
Now, more than ever, it is vital that employers proactively implement self-regulatory measures, such as:

  • Well-written employment handbooks;
  • Appropriate evaluation of overtime classifications;
  • Annual I-9 audits; and
  • Employee non-harassment and discrimination training

In the digital age of data sharing, up-front investments in compliance become the best method of assessing risks and reducing your exposure to penalties.