Private FLSA Lawsuits Are Better than DOL Investigations: How to Maximize Your Recovery
My clients frequently ask me if it’s better to file a complaint with the Department of Labor (DOL) to recover their unpaid overtime or pursue their claims with me through a private federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit. If your goal is to recover all of the unpaid wages owed to you, you should nearly always file an FLSA lawsuit for the following reasons:
A. Private Lawyers Pursue Three Years of Wages; DOL Typically Only Pursues Two
- The DOL typically only obtains up to two (2) years of wages from the time you make your complaint or they begin an investigation.
- If you file a private lawsuit, your attorney can obtain up to three (3) years of wages from the time you file or consent to join a lawsuit.
B. Private Lawyers Pursue Double Damages; The DOL Typically Does Not
- The DOL does NOT even attempt to recover double your unpaid wages if it pursues an investigation,
- If you file a private lawsuit, your attorney will (or should) pursue liquidated (double) damages in your case.
C. Private Lawyers Focus on Getting You Money; The DOL Focuses on Making Companies Legally Compliant
- The DOL is in the business of getting companies to comply with the law and is less focused on maximizing the money you receive.
- Private attorneys typically have the goal of Obtaining the most amount of money for you possible as the only goal.
D. A Recent Illustration of the Difference Between Pursuing Your Claim Through a Private Attorney and Having the DOL Pursue Your Wages
- The DOL negotiates with employers and often provides employees with pennies on the dollar for their claims. A colleague of mine recently saw this first hand in a case: The DOL recovered $200,000 for 100 employees.
- Private Attorneys do not negotiate your claims down with employers. The same attorney who told me about the $200,000 settlement for 100 guys, also ended up recovering $225,000 for 10 guys who pursued their claims in an FLSA lawsuit.
When poised with the question of pursuing a private FLSA lawsuit or going to the DOL to investigate your claim, an FLSA lawsuit is better than a DOL investigation if your goal is to obtain the greatest proportion of your unpaid wages as possible.