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Governor Signs Measure to Increase Penalties for Labor Law violations

Andy O’Brien
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Governor Janet Mills has signed a measure (LD 2184) that would increase penalties on employers who commit wage theft, worker misclassification and other wage and hour violations against workers. This an important victory for workers as it would finally make companies more accountable for flouting wage and hour laws.

Currently, penalties are so low that they don’t effectively deter potential violators. Based on information provided by the Maine Center for Economic Policy, employers who the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards found to have violated wage and hour laws paid an average penalty of just $9.61 per violation.

LD 2184 accounts for employer size, its track record of violations and the seriousness of the offense when assessing fines. During the public hearing on the bill, Bureau of Labor Standards Director Jason Moyer-Lee told committee members that the reason these penalties are so low is because under current rules the penalty calculation starts with the minimum allowable penalty that a court could award under the statute, and then they may increase the penalty for various reasons. LD 2184 requires that penalties for labor law breakers start at the highest level instead of the lowest.