What the EEOC/DOL agreement could mean for FMLA enforcement


The two agencies will work together

On September 13, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) — an agreement — to “enhance and maximize the enforcement of federal laws and regulations.”

For employers, this means that if one of the agencies comes knocking on the door, they can share what they find with the other agency.

Take, for example, the newly enacted (and currently enforced) Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA entitles more employees to accommodations regarding pregnancies and other related medical conditions. As a result, more employees could file claims against employers that don’t comply with the law.

If the EEOC investigates such noncompliance, they could discover other issues and share what they find with the WHD, such as policies or practices that violate the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The new Providing Urgent Maternal Protections Act (“PUMP” Act) could also see claims, and when investigating, the WHD could share what they see with the EEOC.

Cross-training agency investigators

As part of this agreement, the WHD and the EEOC will provide training to each agency’s staff in identifying cases and issues that may arise under the other’s jurisdiction. Therefore, the agency representatives will know what to look for.

The MOU will remain in effect until terminated by the agencies.

What other laws do these agencies enforce?

For reference, in addition to the FMLA, the WHD enforces:

  • The federal minimum wage, overtime pay, tip retention, recordkeeping, nursing mother provision (including the PUMP Act), child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act;
  • The Employee Polygraph Protection Act;
  • Wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act;
  • The prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services; and
  • A number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration-related statutes.

In addition to the PWFA, the EEOC enforces:

  • The Equal Pay Act;
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act;
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act;
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended; and
  • Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

Key to Remember: Now is the time to ensure company policies and practices comply with federal employment laws under the EEOC and WHD. Since these agencies are joining forces, a misstep under one can tip off the other agency that might discover more violations.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.


The J. J. Keller LEAVE MANAGER service is your business resource for tracking employee leave and ensuring compliance with the latest Federal and State FMLA and leave requirements.