The team of experts at HR Morning field real-life, everyday questions from HR managers and gives practical answers that can be applied by any HR pro in the same situation. Today’s question: Will asking the DOL for guidance on classifying workers trigger an investigation?


We’re working with some independent contractors, but we’re not entirely confident in how they’re classified. Is there a risk in calling the local Department of Labor (DOL) office for advice? Or will that trigger an automatic audit?


The DOL will try to help and won’t start an enforcement action, according to employment lawyer Carol Bernick of the firm Davis Wright Tremaine.

The problem is, DOL personnel probably won’t give you a lot of time — so they probably won’t be helpful if your question falls into a gray area and would require real research. In other words, you may not get the best-quality advice by calling the DOL office.

Better bet: Contact your own lawyer before talking with anybody at the DOL.