DOL ups penalties for regulatory violations
- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has increased penalties for employment law violations, according to a Federal Register filing. Employers will pay on average a 2% increase across the board for violating the department's rules, Bloomberg Law reports.
- Maximum penalty increases for violating minimum-wage and overtime rules rose from $1,925 to $1,964; child labor laws from $12,278 to $12,529; and anti-retaliation and discrimination laws under visa programs from $20,111 to $20,521.
- Among the heftiest penalties are increases for workplace injuries or deaths of child workers, up from $55,808 to $56,947, and the willful replacement of American workers under the H-1B visa program, up from $51,588 to $52,641. The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 requires government agencies to adjust maximum penalties for inflation.
DOL is still waiting for the administration to fill a number of positions, but it's still enforcing federal labor laws. Its focus, however, is expected to shift from penalization to prevention, and that move has been seen in its settlement agreement announcements, which have taken a softer tone since President Donald Trump's inauguration.
The agency's priorities for the future, however, aren't yet clear. Trump's labor secretary rescinded Obama-era guidance on joint-employment, so that's an area where some expect the government to step back. It also has proposed to rescind 2011 tip pool regulations that employers found restrictive. But it has plans to issue replacement overtime rules and may soon need to address questions about independent contractors raised by the growth of the gig economy.