Wage and Hour Opinion letters are issued by the Wage and Hour Division Administrator at the Department of Labor to help the public understand the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): "As part of the administration of the FLSA and the FMLA, interested parties may seek and officials of the Wage and Hour Division may provide official written explanations of what the FLSA or the FMLA requires in fact-specific situations. Opinion letters serve as a means by which the public can develop a clearer understanding of what FLSA and FMLA compliance entails." (U.S. Dept of Labor, Final Rulings and Opinion Letters). Opinion letters may sometimes be issued addressing fact-specific questions arising under other federal wage and hour laws enforced by the Department of Labor as well.
When researching in this area, you will often come across older opinion letters, which are still cited by practitioners or referenced in cases. Finding older opinions can be challenging for researchers.
Several databases provide access to Wage and Hour opinion letters, but one of the best sources is Cheetah (CCH's online platform). According to Penny Hazelton's Specialized Legal Research, CCH is a key resource, especially for older opinions: "CCH's coverage of the wage and hour letters is so comprehensive that for some letters the Department of Labor refers inquiries to CCH, whose files include the only complete copy" (Specialized Legal Research, sec. 5.4.4, rev. 2018).
Cheetah is now available to search onsite at Jenkins at one of the computers in our Reference Room!
To find older Wage and Hour opinion letters in Cheetah, start typing "wage and hour opinion letters" in the top search bar. Select 'Wages-Hours Decisions and Opinion Letters Archive: 1937 - 1995'. The content coverage in this file generally begins in 1937, and opinion letter coverage dates back to at least 1942. This file can be searched by keyword. There is also a citation lookup available through the Labor & Employment Law Practice Area, which can be especially helpful if you have the CCH reference number to a particular opinion. Cheetah of course provides access to newer content as well (see 'Wages-Hours Cases and Opinion Letters: Current Laws and Releases" on Cheetah).
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