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Labor Department fails to protect workers

No one who hasn't head their head in the sand for 8 years will be surprised to learn that another Bush Republican government appointee has sacrificed her duty to the people in her charge, for the benefit of large political donors.  This time it is the Labor Department and Elaine Chao, and the accuser is the non-partisan Governmental Accountability Office.

The GAO found that Bush's Labor Department does not even bother to investigate charges that employees have not been paid minimum wage, lawful overtime, or in some cases final paychecks.  In one case, a delivery driver's complaint that he did not receive overtime pay languished for 17 months before an investigator was assigned to it:  then it was dropped because the statute of limitations was about to run.

In another case, the Department did not investigate a claim that disabled children were being paid cash to operate heavy machinery, in violation of numerous labor laws and standards, because it "couldn't locate" the at-fault company.  The GAO apparently found it without difficulty.

The Bush Administration responded with a well-worn Republican "talking point":  that the Labor Department was charged with protecting employees' wages, not trial lawyers':  As one critic noted, however, this "talking point", although it makes good political use of the vulnerability of lawyers, has the situation exactly backwards:  not enforcing basic statutory rules through simple administrative procedures ultimately creates opportunities for trial lawyers to seek income.  The best way to put lawyers out of business would be to enforce the law administratively when complaints are received. 

In truth, this is simply another example of the fox being placed in charge of the hen house and having absolutely no incentive or desire to protect its charges.  The arrogance of this administration in simply snubbing its nose at laws, regulations, duties and threats that its big donors don't like has been an eye-opener to even the most cynical among us.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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