Michael J. Staebell


mstaebell@dickinsonlaw.com | 515-246-4547


Mike Staebell retired from the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (WHD), in December 2015 after 33 years of enforcing various federal employment laws. That included 17 years of direct investigation experience, followed by 11 years supervising other investigators. In his final five years with the agency, he served as District Director for the states of Iowa and Nebraska. Under his leadership, the Iowa-Nebraska office was consistently ranked as one of the most productive in the U.S.

Mike was responsible for enforcing all of the laws within the WHD’s jurisdiction, most notably the FLSA, FMLA and Davis Bacon Act. Although not a lawyer, during his tenure at WHD Mike coordinated with the attorneys of the DOL’s Office of the Solicitor to assist in the litigation of significant cases in courts and before administrative tribunals – including the first FLSA child labor death case in the nation prosecuted under the Child Labor Enhanced Penalty Program that was established under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; FLSA violations involving disabled workers of Henry’s Turkey Service; and FLSA violations involving undocumented workers at Agriprocessors.

Mike is an acclaimed trainer and speaker. He has a keen understanding of the laws enforced by WHD, a practical perspective, the ability to speak to each audience’s interests and make the complex understandable, an easy-going style, and a sense of humor that put him in high demand both publicly and within the agency itself. Mike created courses and trained WHD investigators throughout the U.S., including three-week Basic Training classes and sessions regarding new statutes and regulations. Mike presented to WHD’s 2014 National Managers Meeting on worker classification issues. He has given literally hundreds of presentations to the public on statutes enforced by WHD and is a popular presenter to professional and industry associations throughout the Midwest and the country.  Groups that have benefited from Mike’s presentations include associations of human resources professionals, payroll administrators, bankers, CPAs, municipalities, counties, cooperatives, attorneys, grocers, and construction companies. Mike has trained managers and non-managers for employers and educational entities, as well as the staff of labor unions and worker advocacy groups.

With such extensive experience enforcing federal wage and hour laws, Mike brings unique skills and accomplishments that distinguish the Labor and Employment Section of Dickinson Law.

Things Mike Can Do

As a Compliance Specialist, Legal Paraprofessional, Mike works under the supervision of Dickinson’s attorneys to help our clients understand and comply with the law. And because his knowledge is in federal law, he can serve clients anywhere in the nation. Mike can:

  • Perform preventative internal audits

  • Review policies, procedures, practices, job descriptions, reports, and forms to identify and help resolve issues regarding worker classifications (employee/independent contractor; exempt/non-exempt), timekeeping, overtime, youth employment, FMLA, prevailing wages, immigration labor standards, and more

  • Help employers prepare for and weather external investigations conducted by WHD and by related state agencies, such as Iowa Workforce Development

  • Consult regarding “What Would WHD Do?”

  • Provide litigation support on WHD-related claims

  • Provide expert witness testimony on WHD-related claims

  • Make presentations and conduct training sessions on WHD-related topics

  • Monitor DOL/WHD activities to provide alerts and assist in preparation regarding key developments


B.A., Westmar College, Le Mars, Iowa, 1975

Honors & Awards:

  • 2009 – Secretary’s Distinguished Career Services Award, chosen by the Secretary of Labor for sustained outstanding contributions to the Agency’s mission

  • 2007 – National team award for revamping WHD’s Basic Training program for new Investigators

  • (involved a 13-week pre-class curriculum, plus three weeks of classroom training – that model is still used today by WHD)

  • 2005 – Team award for creating WHD’s first-ever national enforcement initiative (health care industry)

  • 2001 – Award for national team that created and conducted training for all of WHD on total quality management principles

  • 1988 – Second award for additional productivity team successes

  • 1987 – Award for team that worked on productivity issues for the Midwest Region of WHD

Areas of Knowledge:

For 33 years, Mike enforced statutes under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, including the following:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (regarding minimum wages, overtime, recordkeeping and youth employment standards)

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (regarding unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons)

  • Davis Bacon Act and Related Acts (regarding wages and benefits required of contractors and subcontractors on federally-funded or assisted construction and repair contracts on public buildings or public works)

  • Service Contract Act (regarding wages and benefits required of contractors and subcontractors performing services on prime federal government contracts)

  • Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act (regarding wages, housing, transportation, disclosure and recordkeeping standards for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers)

  • Sections H1-B and H2-A of the Immigration and Control Reform Act

Articles & Presentations:

Past presentations have included the following organizations:

  • Society for Human Resource Management (local chapters, state conferences in Iowa and Nebraska)
  • American Payroll Association (Iowa state conference)
  • Iowa Bar Association
  • Nebraska Bar Association
  • Polk County Bar Association (Iowa)
  • US Department of Justice (What Iowa Lawyers Need to Know about Human Trafficking)
  • Iowa State Association of CPAs
  • Iowa Institute of Cooperatives
  • Iowa Association of School Board Attorneys
  • Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association
  • Iowa League of Cities
  • Iowa State Association of Counties
  • Iowa Grocers Association
  • Central Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Associated Builders and Contractors
  • University of Iowa Labor Law Center
  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
  • Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting
  • Woodbury County, Iowa
  • Pella Corporation
  • Vermeer Corporation