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Corporate counsel should be first call when DOL knocks

If U.S. Department of Labor investigators show up at your place of business throughout the Worcester, Massachusetts, area, you should have a plan already in place for just such an event. The legal department should be the first call in that plan. Obviously, corporate and outside counsel, company executives, human resources staff, and the appointee who will interface with the DOL should be notified.

Usually, the DOL will ask for - and you must provide - basic documents such as names and contact information for your leadership team including board members, owners and executives. You must also provide your federal employer identification number and gross annual sales numbers. Payroll records, including 1099 contractors and the birthdates of all employees under 18 are also required. Be prepared for the possibility that the information the DOL is looking for may not be readily available or even at that particular location.

But you do have a right to protect yourself. Sometimes investigators will start taking pictures of your operations. You have a right to maintain any proprietary information such as equipment and patents. You also do not have to provide employee's phone numbers or email addresses. Those records are not required by law to be maintained.

Many business owners make the mistake of not having a plan in place for such an event and they panic. Be cooperative, have legal counsel with you and be as responsive as possible. In addition, employee interviews are almost always part of a DOL investigation. Beware that interview laws are different for exempt and nonexempt employees.

Source:, "Surprise DOL Visits on the Rise," Allen Smith, June 13, 2012

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