Democrats Seek to Stiffen Penalties for Wage and Hour Violations

October 5, 2017

Democrats Seek to Stiffen Penalties for Wage and Hour Violations

 In an effort to counter President Trump’s plans to roll back Obama administration regulations that expanded coverage of the federal overtime law, Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation to toughen the penalties for employers who fail to pay overtime to workers. 

Under federal law, employees must be paid time and a half once they work more than 40 hours in a week, but many businesses exempt workers from this requirement by classifying their duties as “managerial in nature” once they reach a certain salary threshold. Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor adjusted that threshold from $23,000 per year to more than $47,000 annually, a move that was condemned by many business organizations and Republican legislators, who said the rule change exceeded the DOL’s authority.

 Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta started the regulatory rollback in July when he reopened public comment regarding the adjustment of the rule, saying that the Obama administration exceeded its authority under the law when it expanded the rule.

 Law Intended to Help Ensure Workers are Paid What They’ve Earned

 The Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act, which was introduced August 1 by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), would modify the Fair Labor Standards Act by establishing a civil penalty of $2,000 for an employer’s first violation of overtime or minimum wage laws, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. Such penalties are currently limited to $1,100 per violation.

 It would also triple the wages that workers must be paid when they request pay that is owed to them (currently double under existing law), and would make class-action lawsuits against employers for lost wages easier to commence by automatically including all employees in the lawsuit, unless they elect to opt out.

 If you have experienced wage theft, contact the employment attorneys at Murray & Murray online or call 419-624-3000 today.

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