A recent article by Bloomberg BNA focuses on the revival of opinion letters by the U.S. Department of Labor as a tool for employers to use in litigation to prove good-faith efforts to comply with the law.
Opinion letters purport to answer specific questions on wage and hour topics and express the DOL’s opinion on the legality of certain practices. While they don’t carry the force of law—courts are able to overrule them—they provide a basis for a powerful legal defense whenever a practice that has been blessed by the DOL is called into question.
According to Boomberg, the Obama administration discontinued opinion letters in favor of more far-reaching interpretations. As a result, the DOL website shows no new opinion letters since 2009.
Should they go forward, opinion letters will be a useful tool for employers. MSEC will continue to monitor this story.