The Good Faith Defense as a Complete Bar to Wage Claims? Yes, It Is!

When the Department of Labor, whether USDOL or a state agency, issues an Opinion Letter on a certain topic/issue or follows a consistent course of conduct vis-à-vis a particular employer, that employer is allowed to rely on that letter or administrative practice or enforcement policy.  The Opinion Letter or consistent practice then acts as a bar against a lawsuit or claims that the employer owes overtime or owes the employee(s) other monies. The so-called “good faith defense” provides that an employer’s reliance upon an “interpretation”, “ruling”, “approval,” “administrative practice” or “enforcement guidance” by the DOL is a “complete bar” to a lawsuit.  Significantly, it does not matter whether the DOL’s interpretation is correct or whether a court subsequently rules that the agency was “wrong” or that the employer would, ostensibly, owe the claimed…

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