Labor & Employment

Agency Investigations and Audits

It happens to every employer eventually. At some point, they are likely to become the target of a federal, state or local agency investigating their compliance with labor and employment regulations. It’s a scary feeling, even—or especially—for employers that take seriously their obligation to comply with the ever-expanding universe of employment laws and regulations.

Quarles & Brady has vast experience representing employers in agency investigations—and the legal disputes that grow out of them. We understand how to engage productively with the Department of Labor, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), OFCCP (Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs), EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), UI (State Unemployment Agencies) and other federal and state investigative bodies. As they look into potential violations of employment laws, our attorneys vigorously defend our clients and advise investigators upon the relevant facts and law. In doing so we are able to limit the scope of investigative efforts and otherwise obtain favorable results for our clients.

In rare instances when we cannot obtain the results needed for the client during the investigative process, Quarles & Brady is more than prepared to litigate to defend our clients' rights. For instance, we represented a national logistics company, in what was, at the time, one of the largest series of EEOC enforcement actions in the country. This willingness to defend our positions in court only strengthens our position during the investigative process.

The stakes for clients in this area are high, going beyond the monetary value of any particular violations, for instance, to include the risk of reputational damage in the labor market and follow-on lawsuits by private plaintiffs. For companies looking to get ahead of potential problems, we regularly conduct internal investigations as well as audits of their compliance with the FLSA, OSHA, OFCCP, and other laws.

Our work on agency investigations and audits spans all industries, including health care, financial services, manufacturing, transportation, and shipping and logistics. We advise national, regional, and localized employers, from well-established blue chips with complex business organizations to tech start-ups that face complex issues around the classification of workers.

For all of them, we guard against the prospect of—and frustrating experience with—an agency investigation.