The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently agreed to pay $1.5 million in a wage-and-hour case the Fifth Circuit called “indefensible.” Management-side lawyers say the payout is a strong rebuke offers support to employers defending against aggressive tactics by agencies that regulate the workplace.

The DOL agreed to the settlement with Gate Guard Services LP, an oil field services company, after the appeals court found that an agency investigator led an overzealous probe and DOL attorneys violated ethical litigation practices in an investigation of the company’s use of independent contractors.

The Gate Guard case has its roots going back five years, but Ballard Spahr partner Steven Suflas says the DOL’s aggressive pursuit of the case is consistent with “a very aggressive administrative posture over the last 18-24 months.”


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Labor & Employment