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Audit Uncovers Investigation Delays From State Labor Department

The report from the New York State comptroller found that many child labor and wage violation cases took longer to complete than expected.
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

A recent audit report from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli unveiled critical flaws with the Department of Labor's (DOL) handling of labor law violation investigations in NYC.

According to the report, many of the violation claims submitted to the department for review underwent significant delays, with over 350 employer complaints going unanswered despite being submitted as far back as 2019.

Child labor violations in particular reportedly experienced the largest share of inquiry delays, with 64% of the 87 cases reviewed by auditors found to not meet the expected three-month timeline for investigation completion — including 36 cases that took over a year to close or are still in the process of evaluation.

Additionally, the audit discovered that the DOL did not have the necessary policies in place to “identify which child labor cases involve hazardous employment,” which reportedly require more rigorous time frames to conduct investigations, according to DiNapoli.

When it came to wage violation investigations, a whopping 80% of 1,155 cases checked by auditors were not completed in the one-year time frame that is asked of the DOL, with 225 cases taking between 12 to 40 months to finish, the report said.

Amidst his findings, DiNapoli provided several recommendations to the DOL, including the development of guidelines to identify child labor cases involving hazardous employment, setting completion time frames for all child labor and wage-related cases, ensuring claims are reviewed in a timely manner, and making improvements to case monitoring processes. 

“Labor law violations, such as wage theft, minimum wage infractions and child labor offenses, are a significant problem both nationally and in New York,” said DiNapoli. “Our audit identified that the DOL must speed up the investigation and resolution of cases. At a time when increased vigilance is needed, the department must do more to ensure labor violations in New York City are addressed promptly.”