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The new leader of the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is an expert in labor market policy and industrial and labor relations—and a School of Management professor of markets, public policy, and law. David Weil, who was sworn in as administrator of the division on May 5, will be responsible for enforcing laws designed to protect the nation’s workers.
Weil’s division ensures American workers are adequately compensated for the work they do by being paid the minimum wage and required overtime compensation. The division also protects responsible employers from competition with companies that do not comply with federal wage and hour requirements by enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is also responsible for regulating child labor. Weil is also in charge of overseeing compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration-related statutes.
Nominated to the post by President Obama last September, Weil was confirmed by a 51-42 vote by the US Senate in late April. He says he was “incredibly honored” by his confirmation.
“The laws that the Wage and Hour Division administers cover about 135 million workers, and so we have to think about how we use our resources and tools to make laws happen in practice,” said Weil, during a recent phone interview from his new office in Washington, DC. “We have to figure out how do we use our outreach to the public, our tools of enforcement, and how do we educate workers on what their rights are under the laws, as well teach employers what their duties are?”
An expert in workplace issues, Weil has advised US federal agencies, including the Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, as well as workplace agencies in other countries. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Labor, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Since arriving at BU in 1992, Weil, an Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar at SMG, is the recipient of SMG’s Broderick Prize in Research and Broderick Prize for Teaching, as well as the Shingo Prize for Research on Manufacturing Innovations. He was chosen as SMG’s Best MBA Instructor of the Year in 2011 and 2012. He has been the codirector and a senior research fellow at the Transparency Policy Project at the Ash Institute at the Harvard Kennedy School since 2002 and a research fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program since 1987.
Weil says that in addition to his research on the workplace and public policy, he will draw on his 23 years of teaching experience in his new role in Washington. “Thinking about how businesses operate—which we teach at SMG—helps me think about why do we see problems of noncompliance?” he says. “How does that sync up with what I know about the world as a labor economist, and an economist working at a business school? Having been in a management school thinking about how we get our students to approach strategy, leadership, and management has been incredibly helpful.”
Kenneth Freeman, SMG’s Allen Questrom Professor and Dean praises Weil as a valued member of the SMG community, whose “commitment to groundbreaking research and outstanding teaching is exemplary.”
Weil is the author of five books, among them Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency; A Stitch in Time: Lean Retailing and the Transformation of Manufacturing—Lessons from the Apparel and Textile Industries; and The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It, which was published in February by Harvard University Press.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a PhD in public policy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Weil will hold the post through the end of the Obama administration and says he “fully intends” to return to BU when the job is complete.