Department of Labor: Working the Phones for Contingency Lawyers

We thought the White House Middle Class Task Force was a platform for the Obama Adminstration and organized labor to make common cause, with Vice President Joe Biden carrying the flag. Turns out the trial lawyers have a piece of the action, too.

From Fox Business News, Feb. 4, “Hate Your Boss? Call the Government“:

In an unprecedented and controversial move, the White House has launched a new program at the Department of Labor which will refer workers who have complaints about their bosses to a toll free number at the American Bar Association, where they can get a lawyer to work on their case on a contingency fee basis….

And since Vice President Joe Biden says the lawyers will be working on a contingency fee basis, and not pro bono, doesn’t that pretty much guarantee that the lawyers will be more apt to earn those fees via lawsuits against businesses? 

The program was actually announced back on Nov. 19, 2010, by the Vice President. From the White House blog, “Helping Middle-Class Families Pursue Justice.”

[The] Department of Labor (DOL) and the American Bar Association (ABA) are launching a new partnership to help workers resolve complaints received by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, such as not getting paid the minimum wage or overtime, or being wrongfully denied family medical leave.  DOL resolves more than 20,000 of these complaints every year, but because of limited resources, there are thousands more they are unable to pursue.  Starting next month, people whose cases cannot be pursued will be provided with a newly created toll-free number that will connect them with an ABA-approved attorney referral service so they can find a qualified lawyer to help with their claims.

We anxiously await the TV ads, “Need a lawyer? Your boss messing with you? Call 1-800-etc.”

Hat tip to the American Tort Reform Association and its president, Sherman “Tiger” Joyce, who observes, “Members of the plaintiffs bar, one of Washington’s most influential special interests, are the only ones who benefit from lawsuit-spurring policies such as this.”

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