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Zimmerman's Research Guide


United States Department of Labor

Most Department of Labor materials are posted on the DOL Web site including the statutes, regs, executive orders & notices administered or issued by the Department. The DOL's Office of Public Affairs (202-219-8211) will fax press releases and other public information. For other questions and hard-to find materials, call the the DOL's Wirtz Labor Library (202-693-6600) or the DOL's Law Library (202-219-4169).

Administrative Law Judge Decisions: The DOL posts a database of ALJ decisions. They can also be pulled or searched on Lexis.

DOLE ALJ decisions are cited as a year, a 3-digit abbreviation and the chronological number of the opinion issued with that abbreviation (e.g., 2009 FRS 14), sometimes with dashes rather than spaces (2009-FRS-14). The year is the year the case was filed. The abbreviations stand for the underlying statue (e.g. FRS for the Federal Rail Safety Act or SOX for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act); there are about 80 of them. Note: the decision number must be five digits to pull a cite from the DOL database 2009 frs 00014). For more, see the Guidelines for Citation of Decisions .

The abbreviations in use as of 2013 are: ACA; ACM; AIR; ARN; BCA; BCP; BLA; BLB; BLO; BMO; BTD; CAA; CBV; CCP; CER; CET; CETA; CLA; CPS; CRA; CTA; DBA; DCA; DCW; EPP; ERA; ESA; FLS; FRS; HAV; INA; JSA; JSW; JTP; LCA; LCA; LDA; LHC; MBO; MIS; MSA; MSP; NHA; NTS; NQW; OAA; OFC; OSH; PCA; PED; PER; PSI; PWD; RIS; SCA; SDW; SOC; SOX; SPA; STA; SWD; TAE; TLC; TLN; TNE; TRA; TSC; TSE; UIA; VET; WIA; WIN; WPA; WPC; WTW. An incomplete list of the related statutes is posted on the DMS Search Help Page.

Administrative Review Board: All ARB decisions are posted on the DOJ Web site by date and by party name.

ARB decisions are searchable on Westlaw (FLB-ARB). Created in 1996, the Administrative Review Board has jurisdiction to issue decisions formerly issued by the department of Wage Appeals Board (FLB-WAB), the Labor Board of Service Contract Appeals (FGC-LBSCA), and the Office of Administrative Appeals (FLB-OAA). The FLB-ARB database also contains all documents in the FLB-WAB, FGC-LBSCA, and FLB-OAA databases.

Documents filed in pending ARB cases are generally considered confidential. Briefs are posted on the ARB website for a very few cases, solely at the discretion of the Board.

Benefits Review Board: The BRB "hears appeals of ALJ decisions under the Black Lung Benefits Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act." The DOL Office of Administrative Law Judges posts BRB decisions.

Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA): The EBSA (formerly the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration or PWBA) administers a series of laws regulating pensions and other retirement benefits, notably the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The EBSA section of the DOL web site provides information about the Agency. The Compliance Assistance page links to relevant regulations, exemption determinations, advisory opinions, information letters, technical releases and field assistance bulletins, amicus briefs and the EBSA Enforcement Manual.

ERISA Advisory Opinion Letters: Are posted free on the Advisory Opinions page of the DOJ Web site back to 1992. For older opinions, an attorney from Niedweske Barber posts a collection covering 1974 to 2002, arranged by subject and opinion number. Advisory Opinions are searchable on Lexis (LABOR;ERISA) Westlaw, the subscription-based BNA Benefits Practice Center and the subscription-based BNA ERISA Compliance & Enforcement Library. They are also published in the CCH Pension Plan Guide, under the heading "PWBA/ESBA Opinion Letters" in the print edition, and online through Intelliconnect. Alternatively, you can call call a document retrieval service and ask them to pick up what you need from the DOL in D.C. They will probably want a case name and cite (if necessary, get the cite from an index).

If needed, you can file a FOIA request with the Department of Labor to get the background materials that went into the issuance of an Advisory Opinion. Generally, you request all the documents available, including the request letter and any other correspondence.

Field Operations Handbook and Field Assistance Bulletins: The DOL posts much of its Field Operations Handbook, as well as Field Assistance Bulletins back to 2002. There is a version of the Field Operations Handbook on Lexis with more information than the DOL's version.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: See the separate entry for "Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)."

Opinion Letters: See "ERISA Advisory Opinion Letters," above and/or "Wages and Hours," below.

Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA): See "Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)", above.

Wage and Hour Division: The Wage and Hour Division of the DOL's Employment Standards Administration administers the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor and record keeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and several other employment-protection laws. The Division's web site provides information about the division, the relevant Federal statutes and regulations, forms and lots of layman-oriented explanations of employment laws for both employers and employees.

Wage and Hour opinion letters are are published in roughly chronological order back to 1961 in the "Wage-Hours Administrative Rulings" pamphlets at the end of the CCH Labor Law Reporter. Selected letters are published in the "Wages and Hours Manual" included in the BNA Labor Relations Reporter (in the general index under "Opinion Letters"). Letters are available electronically from the following sources:

  • The Division posts its own Opinion Letters free back to 2001 (scroll down to see the links);

  • CCH has the most comprehensive online collection of wage-hour letters to my knowledge - going back to 1938 - in the CCH Labor Law Reporter transfer binders (indexed in the Wages-Hours binder volume 1), the CCH Wages-Hours Reporter and the CCH/Aspen Labor and Employment e-Library, both available by subscription through Intelliconnect.

  • The comprehensive CCH opinion letter collection (1935-present; selective before 1996) is also available on Lexis, in a file combining wage & hour opinion letters, cases and administrative rulings (CCHEMP;WHFCAS);

  • BNA's subscription-based Labor and Employment Law Library includes selected letters;

  • Westlaw has selected letters starting in 1970 (FLB-WHOL).

To get very recent opinion letters, call the Wage and Hour Division at 202-693-0067.

See Also
Arbitration, Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Disabilities Law
Labor Law
Labor Statistics
Minimum Wage
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Producer Price Index
Retirement Plans
Washington, D.C. Document Retrieval

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman