On October 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on its blog that it has launched the beta version of a new website, worker.gov, intended to help workers find quick solutions to their workplace problems. At the same time, the DOL announced that it is inviting users to provide feedback on the site in order to facilitate improvements.
Why a New Website?
The DOL created the online tool in response to feedback it received during President Obama’s White House Summit on Worker Voice that “workers need access to information about their rights that responds directly to their challenges.” According to the DOL, “[e]ven the best government websites can be difficult to navigate, especially for workers with little knowledge of laws and government agencies.” The DOL also acknowledges that workers may be looking for information without knowing which law is at issue: “Worker.gov recognizes the simple truth that people do not think about having an ‘FLSA’ or ‘FMLA’ or ‘Title VII’ problem. They just know that they have an unfairness-on-the-job problem.”
What to Expect on the New Website
The DOL states that new website will “remov[e] the guesswork, and provid[e] workers access to critical information about their rights . . . in a way that makes sense for them.” Rather than asking workers which statute they think their employers may have violated or which government agency can help, worker.gov will ask users to “answer a few simple questions about their lives and jobs” and then will “guide them to the information they need” without workers needing “to know the name of a single statute or government agency.”
The Current Worker.Gov
The site currently features a drop-down menu allowing users to choose their job titles, such as, “day laborer,” “office worker,” “restaurant worker,” and a few others. Once a choice is made, users are taken to a page with several options:
- Tell us what happened. We can help.
- You have the right to be treated equally.
- You have the right to engage with others to improve wages and working conditions.
- You have the right to a safe and healthy work environment.
- You have the right to be paid.
Each of these topics has information grouped below it about various scenarios the worker may be facing, such as:
- I’m not being paid $7.25 or more for my work.
- I am being prevented from engaging with others to improve my working conditions.
- I was discriminated against based on my age.
When a user clicks on any of these scenarios, he or she is taken to a brief description of his or her rights, with links to take further action, such as filing a claim (e.g., for lost wages), filing a charge (e.g., for discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), or filing a complaint (e.g., for a workplace safety violation with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
The DOL is inviting users to try out the website and provide feedback. According to the DOL blog, “the most important innovation is that we’ll constantly be collecting feedback and improving the site.” The DOL expects to expand the site’s offerings in the coming months “to target more and more occupations” and “to narrow in on the precise information that workers need most.”