U.S. Department of Labor’s Latest App: Sue with Your Smartphone

The United States Department of Labor recently launched its first smartphone application-one that will arguably lead to more wage and hour lawsuits by employees. Available in English and Spanish, the new timesheet app allows employees to track their work hours, including break time and overtime, and the wages their employers owe them. Users can add comments related to their work hours; view a summary of work hours in a daily, weekly and monthly format; and email the summary of work hours and gross pay as an attachment. In addition, links to the Web pages of the department's Wage and Hour Division provide easy access to a glossary, contract information, and materials about wage laws.

Although this free app is currently compatible with only the iPhone and iPod Touch, the Labor Department is looking to develop versions for other platforms as well, such as Android and Blackberry. The department will also explore developing other pay features: tips, commissions, bonuses, deduction, holiday pay, pay for weekends, shift differentials, and pay for regular days of rest.

According to Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, "This app will help empower workers to understand and stand up for their rights when employers have denied their hard-earned pay." The app will presumably make it easier for the Wage and Hour Division to make investigations. Nevertheless, it will be important to not rely on the new wage and hour calculator too much. An employee's own calculations and assumptions may be accidentally wrong, or even purposely false.

Overall, the launch of the application should remind employers to maintain accurate employment records. It is understandable that employers today have a harder time keeping track of employee work time when the employees work outside the boundaries of a traditional work day and office space. However, an employer can mitigate this difficulty by communicating to their employees that correct time records are desired, and if the employees believe there is any discrepancy in their time records, they should immediately notify the employer.

The app can be downloaded from the Wage and Hour Division's home Web page at http://www.dol.gov/whd. When necessary, employers should consult legal counsel regarding this application or any other wage and hour concerns.