US Labor Department and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development sign agreement to reduce misclassification of employees

WHD NEWS Brief: 1/20/2015 
Release Number: 15-0062-NAT

Description: Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of protecting the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses. Under the agreement both agencies will share information and coordinate law enforcement.

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(Copy of MOU)

Labor and Employment Federal Regulatory Reporting and Other Requirements in the First Quarter of 2015

1/14/2015 by Robert Lian, Brian Glenn Patterson

 

There are several important dates that employers should keep in mind during the first quarter of 2015. While some are long-standing requirements, others are the product of recent regulatory action by the Obama administration.  Key dates appear below.
Effective January 1, 2015
Occupational Safety and Health Administration/U.S. Department of Labor Expansion of injury and illness reporting requirement

 

Historically, employers have been required to report to OSHA within eight hours any occupational fatalities and occupational injuries and illnesses resulting in the hospitalization of three or more employees. OSHA’s updated recordkeeping and reporting rule expands the list of injuries that employers must report to OSHA.  As of January 1, 2015, all employers must report the following:

Within 8 hours:

All work-related fatalities; and

Within 24 hours:

All work-related inpatient hospitalizations to any employee (no longer limited to three employee hospitalizations);

All work-related amputations; and

All work-related losses of an eye.

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US Labor Department signs agreement with Florida Department of Revenue to reduce misclassification of employees

U.S. Dept. of Labor
Wage and Hour Division 
Release Number: 15-34-NAT
Date: January 13, 2015 

WASHINGTON — Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Florida Department of Revenue today signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of protecting the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses. Under the agreement, both agencies will share information and coordinate law enforcement. The MOU represents a new effort on the part of the agencies to work together to protect the rights of employees and level the playing field for responsible employers by reducing the practice of misclassification. The Florida Department of Revenue is the latest state agency to partner with the Labor Department.

In Fiscal Year 2013, WHD investigations resulted in more than $83,051,159 in back wages for more than 108,050 workers in industries, such as janitorial, food, construction, day care, hospitality and garment. WHD regularly finds large concentrations of misclassified workers in low-wage industries.

“Misclassification deprives workers of rightfully-earned wages and undercuts law-abiding businesses,” said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “This memorandum of understanding sends a clear message that we are standing together with the state of Florida to protect workers and responsible employers and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

“Working with the states is an important tool in ending misclassification,” said Wayne Kotowski, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator for the southeast. “These collaborations allow us to better coordinate compliance with both federal and state laws alike.”

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US Labor Department sues Little Rock, Arkansas, electrical contractor for failing to pay federal contract workers properly

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division

Release Number: 14-2243-DAL
January 7, 2015 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit with the Office of Administrative Law Judges against LRE Royal Electrical Contractors Inc. and its owner, George E. Smith, to recover $345,077 in back wages for 61 electrical workers. The action also seeks to prevent the company and Smith from obtaining federal contracts for three years.

The filing alleges Smith and his company, doing business as both LRE Electrical Contractors and LRE Electrical, violated the Davis-Bacon and Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Acts when they paid electrical workers less than the applicable prevailing wage rates and corresponding overtime wages for work performed as part of four government contracts.

The Wage and Hour Division’s Little Rock District Office found that LRE Electrical and Smith did not register electrical workers in approved apprenticeship programs, but classified and paid workers as apprentices. The company and Smith also failed to pay these workers wage rates included in the contracts, which are based on the work an employee actually performs.

“Government contracts specify clearly how pay and benefits must be determined. Employers are required to adhere to these rules and pay workers correctly,” said Cynthia Watson, Wage and Hour administrator in the Southwest. “Contractors know these obligations when they bid on government contracts, and when the contracts are awarded.”

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Enforcement Matters: Wage Violations, Workers and the Economy

by Secretary Tom Perez on December 4, 2014

If you work hard and play by the rules, then you should be able to earn enough to take care of yourself and your family – that’s a core American value. But for too many people, their hard work isn’t reflected in their paychecks. In many cases, workers aren’t being fully and properly paid for all the hours they put in on the job. The Labor Department recently commissioned a research study on minimum wage violations in two states that demonstrates exactly that. But we are committed to using our enforcement tools to ensure workers get the wages that are rightfully theirs.

Using U.S. Census and earnings data from New York and California, this new study shows that many workers are earning a de facto minimum wage below the legal floor. Unscrupulous employers push their workers into poverty when they fail to pay what the law requires.

In those states, roughly 3 to 6 percent of all workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act experience minimum wage violations – translating into a total of between $20 and $29 million in lost weekly income. That represents 40 percent or more of their total pay. Imagine if 40 cents out of every dollar you earned didn’t show up in your paycheck but in your employer’s pocket. For every hour of tough, on-your-feet work looking after children, cleaning homes, making hotel beds, preparing food in a restaurant or picking crops in a field, it’s possible you could be working 24 minutes for free. That’s just wrong.

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(USDOL Study)

US Labor Department signs agreement with New Hampshire Department of Labor to reduce misclassification of employees

WHD News Release: [11/12/2014]

WASHINGTON – Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and the New Hampshire Department of Labor  has signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of protecting the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as something other than employees, such as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses.

Under this agreement, both agencies will share information and coordinate law enforcement. The memorandum of understanding represents a new effort on the part of the agencies to work together to protect the rights of employees and level the playing field for responsible employers by reducing the practice of misclassification. The New Hampshire Department of Labor is the latest state agency to partner with the Labor Department.

“Misclassification of employees deprives workers of rightfully-earned wages and workplace protections and undercuts law-abiding businesses,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Which is why combating misclassification is one of several important strategies to promote shared prosperity to help ensure that our economy works for everyone.”

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At an upscale Pearl District apartment project, a union blows the whistle on wage theft

By DON McINTOSH, Associate Editor

The U.S. Labor Department is investigating prevailing wage violations at four Portland-area construction projects that received loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). That government help came with conditions: The apartments must be affordable for moderate-income families or the elderly or handicapped, and construction workers must be paid local prevailing wage rates as determined by government surveys.

But an investigation by Painters District Council 5 found that a painting subcontractor at the Parker Apartments construction project paid workers as little as half the amount they were entitled to. Workers who complained about the violation were let go.

Undercover probe
The story begins in March, when Painters union organizer Roman Ramos asked out-of-work union member Marcos Jimenez to go undercover as a painter at the Parker Apartments – a six-story 177-unit apartment building under construction in the Pearl District – and report back any illegal practices he found.

The Parker is named after the toddler son of Bob Ball, a prominent developer who ran for Portland mayor in 2008. To build it, Ball teamed up with Eugene developers Don Woolley and Tom Connor, and with a HUD loan guarantee, they obtained a $35.7 million loan from CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm.

Painters District Council 5 has been investigating HUD-sponsored construction projects in the Pacific Northwest, starting in Seattle, says organizing director Jeff Kelley. The goal is to clean up the industry, making it harder for companies to win contracts by cheating workers out of wages.

“Every project we’ve looked at in Washington and Oregon has had issues,” Kelley said. And the biggest issue has been violations of the prevailing wage law, known as Davis-Bacon.

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