Maine labor officials recover $500K in lost wages

State labor officials say they’ve recovered nearly $500,000 in wages for Maine workers who were chiseled out of the money by their employers.

Last year, the Maine Department of Labor recovered at least $474,971 in owed back wages for workers through settlement agreements and other enforcement actions. That includes more than 60,000 from a South Paris employer to make back payments to 14 workers whose tips were withheld illegally, the department said

Scott Cotnoir, director of the Labor Department’s wage and hour division, said most Maine employers “understand and comply fully with their obligations under employment law” and the agency works with two players that don’t to bring them into compliance.

“Occasionally, stronger measures are necessary,” he said. “Bringing non-compliant employers into compliance ensures that everyone is playing by the same rules: workers are paid what they are owed, and law-abiding employers can compete on a level playing field.”

He said the department is increasingly relying on settlements to bring employers into compliance. Those agreements typically require the employer to take measures to ensure compliance, such as training its management on employment law. The agreements usually remain in effect for two or three years, unless an employer falls out of compliance, he said.

In 2021, the department entered into 10 settlement agreements resulting in the recovery of back pay and liquidated damages of more than $100,000 for 155 workers and $16,982 in civil money penalties paid by their employers.

Other enforcement actions in 2021 resulted in 24 employers being assessed civil penalties totaling $120,162, according to the department.

The Labor Department has a website where it posts information on the number of outstanding wage violations, the amount of money owed, and the extent to which the employer has paid the back wages owed.

Of the 29 citations issued with civil money penalties, nine of the employers have yet to pay the appropriate wages to their workers, according to the agency.

This article was originally posted on Maine labor officials recover $500K in lost wages

Author: Christian Wade

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