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Department Of Management

It's not exactly surprising that the Department of Labor would underperform in a Republican administration, but you've really got to hand it to Elaine Chao, who ran the Labor Department for eight years under George W. Bush, for taking this mandate for underperformance and running with it.

Today's NYT has an article about a new GAO report on the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, which is supposed to help workers whose employers don't pay them the minimum wage or overtime but, according to the GAO, basically doesn't do anything.

Here, for instance, is the transcript of a phone call between a Wage and Hour Division employee and an undercover GAO investigator posing as a worker who's reporting his employer for paying less than the minimum wage:

Wage and Hour Division employee: “You’re sure you don’t want to just have a nice conversation with him yourself?”

Undercover investigator: “No, no, I don’t want to, because he gets very loud and angry.”

Employee: “O.K., well here’s another avenue that you can pursue. O.K., do you have another job lined up?”

Investigator: “No.”

Employee: “O.K., you might want to do that before you file a complaint with us, because I can’t guarantee that he’s not going to fire you.”

Jason Zengerle