U.S. Representative George Miller, D-California, is urging the Department of
Labor's Inspector General to review an agreement between Wal-Mart and the department
that would give the company 15 days of notice before the department investigates
certain complaints, the Hartford Courant reports.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that the Department of Labor
agreed to give the company 15 days of notice before investigating allegations
of wage and hour violations. The Department of Labor contends the notice agreement
applies only to allegations of child-labor violations. The provision was part
of a settlement of allegations that the company allowed workers under the age
of 18 to operate hazardous equipment in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Arkansas.
"I think it is ludicrous that the Department of Labor would give a possible
violator 15 days' notice before instigating a full and thorough investigation,"
U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, D-Connecticut, tells the newspaper. "Just
as the police wouldn't phone a thief to give him time to leave a crime scene,
the federal government shouldn't slow-walk these types of investigations."
Department of Labor officials contend the Wal-Mart agreement is similar to
settlements the department has reached with other companies.
"We always call employers to say we have a complaint, and that we're coming
in to do an investigation," says Victoria Lipnic, the assistant labor secretary
for employment standards. "That is a typical standard procedure. This is
a stick over Wal-Mart to make sure they comply."