Thursday, April 14, 2022: Wage and Hour Enforcement Tops USDOL Equity Action Plan
The US Department of Labor (USDOL), along with more than 90 other federal agencies (see article above), announcement its Equity Action Plan in response to Executive Order 13985, Advance racial equity and support for underserved communities. the 20 page plan summarizes vital aspects of DOL’s principles and approach to advancing equity. In all fairness, however, this program appears to simply engage and reassign the Wage Hours Division to simply do its existing job with existing resources for existing stakeholders.
Equity Action Plan
USDOL has categorized its “ambitious” equity efforts into five areas.
- Protection of wage and hourly rights
- The federal unemployment insurance system
- Improving access to languages
- Workforce training
- Government apprenticeships
Wage rights and hours
As noted in President Biden’s Fact Sheet, USDOL recognizes that women, people with disabilities, people of color, immigrants, and those with low levels of formal education are particularly prone to wage violations and schedules. The Department’s Wages and Hours Division (WHD) intends to conduct a new application analysis to understand the comparative labor standards offered by relevant worker protection statutes. Specifically, the extent of worker protections, the enforcement capacity of state and local partners, and the remedies available nationwide. From the analysis, WHD will identify the different sources of protection employees can expect to receive from different levels of government and community partners. WHD will then develop strategic partnerships and memorandums of understanding to ensure that employees receive the best protections through all available tools in particular regions and sectors of the country.
Other wage and hourly efforts include:
- reaffirm WHD’s commitment to preventing and combating retaliation;
- continue to conduct equity-focused outreach to essential workers; and
- develop strategic partnerships with community organizations, worker centres, unions and industry associations
Efforts to increase the focus on underserved employees in the public workforce system and in the labor market include:
- leverage and expand public workforce system data to identify and address barriers to underserved populations;
- engage with stakeholders to identify barriers to equity in services, programs and benefits administered by ETA (Employment and Training Administration);
- promote equity in the awarding of discretionary grants;
- pilot programs and services, award grants, and provide technical assistance to alleviate deep-seated barriers faced by specific populations; and
- establish and invest in high-level training industry and sector partnerships that open pathways to quality jobs for vulnerable workers.
Other action items
Among other things, to improve language access, the Department has requested funds to support a centralized team, staffed nationally and regionally by the Civil Rights Center and the Office of Public Affairs, to develop greater coherence in the provision of language access services. in all Departmental agencies and programs. To build a “federal government workforce representative of the communities it serves” (sound like an affirmative action program?), the department will develop government apprenticeships, starting with employment administration and training.