The U.S. Department of Labor has joined the U.S. Department of Justice's Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, saying it will enable better coordination and prosecution of violations of wage and hour laws.
"Employers and federal contractors and subcontractors must understand that this department is serious about pursuing the non-payment and under-payment of wages," said Victoria A. Lipnic, assistant secretary for employment standards. "We cannot allow those who contribute their labor to the hurricane recovery effort to be exploited."
The department says participation in the Katrina Fraud Task Force will allow its Wage and Hour Division to enhance the enforcement work it has already been doing on the Gulf Coast, noting that many individuals working in the Gulf Coast region are recent immigrants with limited knowledge of workplace protections.
"Wage and Hour's coordination with the Justice Department will ensure that those who take advantage of workers and the taxpayers by underpaying workers or submitting false payrolls to the government are prosecuted," says the department's Alfred B. Robinson, Jr.
After Hurricane Katrina, President Bush suspended the prevailing wages provisions of Davis-Bacon Act in areas devastated by the hurricane. However, President Bush reinstated the rules in November 2005 after facing criticism.