For several years, the U.S. Department of Labor ceased issuance of opinion letters, which provided guidance to employers and employees covered by the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) regarding wage and hour violations. On June 27, 2017, Secretary Acosta announced that the opinion letter is making a comeback! Opinion letters are written opinions by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor on how certain facts, detailed by an employer who is requesting an opinion, may or may not be a violation of the FLSA.
According to an email issued by the Department: “Reinstating opinion letters will benefit employees and employers as they provide a means by which both can develop a clearer understanding of the Fair Labor Standards Act and other statutes,” said Secretary Acosta. “The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to helping employers and employees clearly understand their labor responsibilities so employers can concentrate on doing what they do best: growing their businesses and creating jobs.”
The Department has a website https://www.dol.gov/whd/opinion/ where the public may review prior opinion letters that offer guidance on a variety of wage and hour topics. Anyone reviewing the letters cannot rely on the opinions because those opinions only apply to the facts presented to the Department by a specific employer. The public may also request opinion letters through this website. Employers and business owners should first consult with legal counsel before requesting such opinions from any state or federal agency.