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Government asks public to hold unlawful employers responsible

Many San Antonio residents check the Yelp app on their smartphones before going out to eat. Even more people likely use the Orbitz app or a similar program in order to look at hotel reviews when planning a vacation. In this day and age, it is fairly easy to do a little quick research on your computer or phone before deciding where to spend your hard-earned dollars.

The U.S. Department of Labor wants consumers to have another technologic tool at their disposal when deciding which establishments to patronize. The DOL is hoping to put out an app that would let consumers and job-seekers easily read up on how a business treats its employees.

The DOL is calling on members of the public to develop apps that digest labor compliance data relating to individual businesses. It is called the Fair Labor Data Challenge contest, and the best app will be selected by the agency and made available to the public.

The agency is ultimately looking for a smartphone app that combines publicly available employment law enforcement data with GPS and consumer ratings websites.

The DOL has stated that the ideal app would work with social media, allowing consumers to learn whether an establishment is complying with labor laws, and facilitate communication between consumers and the DOL.

The agency is accepting entries until Oct. 11 and more details are available on its website.

This initiative is very interesting. Of course, many Texas residents would choose to take their business elsewhere if they knew that an establishment had a record of failing to pay overtime or subjecting workers to harassment. The app could also provide red flags to job-seekers who may be considering working for employers with questionable records.

Source: The Times and Democrat, "Department of Labor launches contest for smartphone app," July 16, 2013

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