August 13, 2019 Lawyer Referral and Information Service's Resources

Attorney Referral System - Wage Claims

If you have been referred to this website by the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division to be connected to a local attorney referral provider approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), click the link below to get started.

For the Public

How does the ABA-Approved Attorney Referral System work?

The ABA-Approved Attorney Referral System is built on a pre-existing network of local and state Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS) programs that are "ABA-LRIS approved," meaning they have complied with the ABA model rules concerning the operation of public service lawyer referral programs. There are nearly 70 ABA-approved LRIS programs throughout the country. Building on this system, the ABA is creating a website for use by workers with Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLS) complaints nationwide that will connect them to the local and state LRIS programs.

How will the website help connect workers to an attorney?

When workers fill out the form on the website, they will enter their employer's zip code or their own zip code, and will then be sent information on the ABA-approved attorney referral provider in the appropriate geographic area. This website will be available in both English and Spanish. The user will then contact the referral provider for assistance in locating an attorney.

Will the attorneys to whom the individual is referred be experienced in FLSA and FMLA matters?

Yes, the participating ABA-approved referral providers have created subject matter panels in both FLSA and FMLA, and attorneys who wish to join those panels and accept referrals must demonstrate an objective measure of expertise in these areas of law, according to the standards established by the local referral provider and in accordance with the ABA's Model Rules for Lawyer Referral Services.

Will this program guarantee that individuals will be given legal assistance from a private attorney?

No, this program cannot guarantee that a complainant will be able to find an attorney interested in providing representation. The website will connect individuals with referral programs that have panels of attorneys specifically interested and qualified in these cases.

For Attorneys

I’m an attorney and I would like these cases to be referred to me. How do I participate in the ABA-Approved Attorney Referral System?

The ABA-Approved Attorney Referral System is a network of state and local programs that have established specific standards for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) panels. Each program has criteria for participation in its lawyer referral service and participation on its respective FLSA and FMLA panels. An attorney wishing to receive cases should contact the respective contact person for the program and obtain the information about how to join that program’s panel. See the following chart for the contact information.

Do I need to be "ABA-Approved" in order to participate in this program?

Individual attorneys do not need to be “ABA-Approved.” The participating lawyer referral programs must be “ABA-Approved” and meet the ABA’s Model Rules for Lawyer Referral Services. These standards will include such items as confirming that that attorney has malpractice insurance and has the proper experience to accept referrals in this particular area of law.

Are there any special obligations for attorneys under this program?

Yes, each lawyer referral program will be providing aggregated information about the number of referrals accepted and the outcome of those cases. You will be asked to provide such aggregated information to the lawyer referral program.

Bridge to Justice

BRIDGE TO JUSTICE: Wage and Hour Division Connects Workers To New ABA Approved Attorney Referral System

Many workers across the country still struggle to obtain basic employment protections under the nation’s minimum wage, overtime, and family medical leave laws. When denied these protections, the workers are unable to fully contribute to their local communities and businesses. Over the past two years, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (Wage and Hour Division) has added 350 new investigators and stepped up its efforts to help these workers through both complaint-driven and targeted enforcement. In a typical year, over 35,000 workers contact the Wage and Hour Division for help, including the 25,000 who need assistance with their minimum wage, overtime, or family medical leave claims – and this number does not even include many more workers who do not contact us after their rights have been violated.

Although the Wage and Hour Division is able to help the vast majority of these workers recover denied wages or lost jobs through conciliation, settlement, or, with the Solicitor of Labor, litigation, every year there are thousands of workers whose claims we cannot resolve because of limited capacity. In recognition of the fact that the Wage and Hour Division cannot remedy every violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Congress provided workers the right to pursue their own private litigation (private right of action) under these laws.

In the past, for those workers it did not have the capacity to assist, the Wage and Hour Division simply informed the workers that, even though they may have valid claims under the FLSA or the FMLA, the Wage and Hour was declining to pursue their claims further and that they have a private right of action under the applicable statute. However, attempting to exercise rights on their own, or finding an attorney with the necessary experience and subject matter expertise to represent them, are significant and difficult obstacles to these workers obtaining justice. When it is difficult for workers to pursue redress for denied rights, it makes it easier for those employers who exploit their workers to obtain an unfair competitive advantage, which denies law-abiding employers a level playing field.

Thanks to an unprecedented collaboration between the Wage and Hour Division and the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service (ABA LRIS), the Wage and Hour Division will now connect these workers to a local referral service that will, in turn, provide the workers with access to attorneys who may be able to help. This collaboration will both provide workers a better opportunity to seek redress for FLSA and FMLA violations and help level the playing field for employers who want to do the right thing.

Beginning on December 13, 2010, when FLSA or FMLA complainants are informed that the Wage and Hour Division is declining to pursue their complaints, they may also be given a toll-free number to contact the newly created ABA-Approved Attorney Referral System. If complainants choose to use the website, they will be advised of the ABA-approved LRIS providers in their area. The complainant may then contact the provider and determine whether to retain a qualified private-sector lawyer.

In addition, when the Wage and Hour Division has conducted an investigation, the complainant will now be provided information about the Wage and Hour Division’s determination regarding violations at issue and back wages owed. This information will be given to the complainants in the same letter informing them that the Wage and Hour Division will not be pursuing further action, and will be very useful for attorneys who may take the case. The Wage and Hour Division has also developed a special process for complainants and representing attorneys to quickly obtain certain relevant case information and documents when available.