by Lana L. Rupprecht, Esq. - AVP Product Compliance
& Marti Cardi, Esq. - Senior Compliance Consultant and Legal Counsel,
September 27, 2023
Talk about collaboration on a grand scale! Two federal agencies of huge importance to employers are the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL WHD) , and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On September 14, 2023, these agencies entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance enforcement of the laws within their purview and coordination through information sharing, joint investigations, training, and outreach. Read on to learn about the MOU, then pick up some suggestions how to be proactive and ready for this alliance.
Where can I find the MOU?
Why are the DOL WHD and the EEOC important to employers?
The DOL, Wage and Hour Division (WHD), enforces the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), various wage and hour laws including those relating to nursing mother's break times under the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act and various other laws.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing several anti-discrimination statutes. The most notable for employers concerned about leave management include:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which includes pregnancy discrimination and religious discrimination;
- The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
What are the key parts of the MOU that employers should know?
- Information Sharing: The MOU discusses how the DOL WHD and the EEOC may share information with each other either upon request from each agency or upon an agency's own initiative. This information may include complaint referrals, sharing information in each agency's complaint or investigative files, reports or data produced by employers and other statical analysis or summaries.
- Contacts: The MOU identifies contacts at each agency to submit requests for information and respond to such requests.
- Coordinated Investigations and Enforcement: If, during the course of an investigation, the DOL WHD or EEOC believes the conduct may be a violation under the other's laws, the MOU describes how each agency may advise claimants that they may be able to file a charge with the other agency. According to the MOU, the investigating agency personnel will advise the potential complainant that they may be able to file a charge or complaint with the other agency and may give the complainant informational materials prepared by the other agency, such as rights and remedies and agency contact information.
- According to the MOU, the agencies may determine that it is appropriate to conduct coordinated investigations for claims arising out of both agencies. If both agencies find violations, they will determine if it is appropriate for one agency to settle or conciliate its matter while the other holds its matter in abeyance and consult with each other before settling of concluding conciliation.
- Training and Outreach: The MOU provides that the agencies will train each other's staff on their respective laws; work together on outreach and public education; share training and programs; and develop joint policy statements or technical assistance documents where appropriate.
- Confidentiality and Disclosure: The MOU provides that the transmission of confidential or privileged information that the agencies exchange is subject to the common interest doctrine (i.e., the matter is kept confidential between the two agencies) and shall not constitute a waiver of any privilege.
Tips for Employers:
- Remember that any information you provide to one agency may be shared with the other. So, be very mindful on what data and information you provide in an investigation and think about all laws that may be at issue—not just the one raised in the specific complaint. For example, when responding to the EEOC on an ADA claim, keep the FMLA in mind too.
- Do not respond to the DOL or the EEOC complaints in silos. If different personnel or attorneys at your company are responding to different complaints, make sure they are talking to each other and coordinating the responses to ensure the message is consistent and accurate.
- And, as always, confer with your employment law attorney before submitting any information, data, or statistics to the EEOC and DOL!
Reliance Matrix Can Help!
Reliance Matrix offers employers leave administration and accommodation services. For more information, contact your Reliance Matrix account manager or send us a message to [email protected].
Through its insurance and administrative services entities, Reliance Matrix offers integrated leave management services involving the FMLA, state-mandated paid family and medical leave and accommodation solutions. Product features and availability may vary by state. For more information, please contact your Reliance Matrix account manager, or reach us at [email protected]