The Department of Labor (DOL) is concerned about the onslaught of wage-and-hour suits that companies are being hit with, and it’s vowed to do something about it.

This week, at a conference at New York University celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the department’s solicitor Patricia Smith said the DOL had begun taking new approaches to addressing employer compliance after noticing an “epidemic” of violations.

“Workers around the country, especially low-wage workers, are being denied minimum wage and overtime,” she said. “Right now I think what we see is nothing short of an epidemic.”

Smith said the DOL recently began conducting investigations into potential systemic FLSA violations. Previously, it only opened investigations based on the complaints that it received. Under its new “directed investigations” initiative, the DOL looked at possible violations in industries and geographical locations. With this new approach, the DOL found employer violations 71 percent of the time.

“It really shows there are serious problems out there,” Smith said.

Read more about this story on Thomson Reuters.

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