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Can the DOL contact our former employees?

by on
in Small Business Tax Deduction Strategies

Q. We’re in the middle of a U.S. Department of Labor audit. Investigators are looking at payroll records for the past two years. Now they want the names, addresses, phone numbers and positions of all employees who left within the past two years. Do they have the right to this information? Can they go back two years? — D.G., Rhode Island

A. Yes. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) gives the DOL broad discretion in determining how to investigate potential FLSA violations. Specifically, the law authorizes the DOL to “investigate such facts, conditions, practices or matters as [it] may deem necessary or appropriate to determine whether any person has violated any provision of this chapter, or which may aid in the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter.” (29 U.S.C. § 211(a))

If the DOL deems it necessary to contact former employees, then it likely has the right to do so. Also, the two-year time frame is permissible because the FLSA has a two-year statute of limitations (three years for willful violations).  

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