Labor Department inquiry...spiteful?

My second ever posting, its fun and enlightening. Wife’s dance studio, received a letter from NJ Dept of Labor, inquiry into our hiring, working hours, pay rates. All employees are current or former students. Response took many hours, end result no violations, no trouble. State rep closed her letter with invitation to call for more info. Called, found out that within a short time EIGHT people had called with complaints and questions. She referred to callers as "Dance Moms. If one caller, would assume just a jealous mom whose child hasn’t been hired. But it feels like a coordinated effort to cause us trouble, for SOME reason! Are we too sensitive, taking it personal?

Well, to put this lightly - are you a good place to work for? Good pay, good hours, good working conditions? If you aren’t a nice place to work for, I could see one of the minions being unhappy and telling the rest of the minions to lodge a complaint.

Other than that, it could just be some unhappy mom whose precious snowflake was slighted, or a rival dance school. Don’t really have enough info to say.

Did you ban that woman from selling dance shoes in your studio? If so, she’s probably now getting her revenge. I recommend checking that your fire extinguishers and fire exits are up to code, as she might next call the fire marshal or the building inspector.

I wouldn’t take it personally - this is business, after all.

However, eight different inquiries is a lot, so if they’re explicitly coordinating, then they’re at least talking to each other. And employees do talk to each other - if you’re the owner, you probably have no idea just how much unofficial information is being passed around between employees.

It could be that one employee (or parent) is disgruntled over something, or it could be that they heard something that made them legitimately think you really weren’t following the rules. Employees are prone to doing things like that. (For example: my state allows an optional definition of overtime as any time over 8 hours in one day. It’s provided as an employer option to simplify record-keeping, but some employees don’t read the fine print of the law and get it into their heads that they’re owed money.)

In many town dance studios are fiercely competitive could be someone wants to drive you out of business, but one person getting eight different mothers to call in to the Dept of Labor toward that end is a bit over the top. Not to doubt your puzzlement but when most people have a vindictive enemy that determined they have some inkling who it is. This person wants you out of business.

Original poster here. I think astro is spot on. I should have memtioned, while the state rep would not five us names of callers, she did say that NONE were current employees. All of our employees are VERY part time, are paid over minimum wage. It seemed to me the callers were either trying to get us into some kind of trouble (they failed) or maybe more likely just to mess with us and cause us a headache (they succeeded).

It’s part of doing business. Compliance with laws and regulations, and the reporting associated with it, is part of the cost.

So what were they complaining about?

Would you mind answering Dewey Finn’s question above?

For Simplicio, the complaints were non specific, but state of NJ rep indicated that they make formal inquiry if evenjust a single call is received. In other words, there was no need for these people to plie on! For Dewey, we had a firm conversation with the shoe merchant. She seems pretty well subdued for now. The “Labor Inquiry Incident” predates the “Sue Merchant Incident” though we’re pretty sure the shoe merchant is one of the eight callers. She is someone that just can’t help causing friction, while her daughters are just fine.

Heh. Dance pun!

When you say “eight people called”, I’m wondering if they actually e-mailed. One person could probably e-mail from a bunch of different computers to make it seem as if he or she were more than one person.

If a current or former employee has filed an anonymous claim, it’s easy enough to find out who they are. Non-employees can’t file a claim.

When a claim is closed, as your claims apparently have been, all you have to do is file an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, and New Jersey will give you all the information about the person who filed the claim.

The form is here:

Choose Labor, the choose Wage & Hour compliance, assuming that is where your clearance letter came from.

That’s not possible in New Jersey. You can file a claim where you will be listed as “anonymous” to the business owner, but your name and information is revealed to the state on the claim form.

New Jersey does not investigate “is your refrigerator running?” type anonymous calls or e-mails because every person with a bug up their ass or the slightest grudge against their supervisor or employer would be calling or e-mailing every day. You must file an actual complaint to have it investigated.

This is no joke, spend some time thinking about what kinds of complaints may be lodged against you, and make sure there’s nothing there that will stick.