The DOL recently announced that it is sponsoring a contest to develop a smartphone app that would allow customers to determine whether a certain business is compliant with federal labor laws.
OSHA, EEOC and other DOL-managed agencies often insist on a condition that resolutions of matters include a public notice on that agency’s website that denotes the agency’s prowess in securing a penalty or fine. If the DOL insists on such a condition as a means to provide data for this smartphone application, employers should consider the impact of this future recurring data affecting its scorecard on the app with its customers, clients or vendors.
This misguided use of new technology should spur employers to resist settlement efforts that require public pronouncements on DOL agencies’ websites.
No employer or private business should be blacklisted for not treating “workers fairly and lawfully” by a smartphone app that somehow extrapolates government data into a measuring stick on compliant performance. Government data is inherently unreliable. Myriad reports of wrongly filed property liens and misdemeanor convictions mistakenly inputted as felonies should convince the DOL that its technology initiative is unwise. We still have not ensured that data mining by the government is being done reliably or with sufficient oversight.