Eleven state attorneys general have attacked the Labor Department’s pilot program allowing employers to report wage violations and make good on the pay they owe instead of facing litigation.
The letter was sent to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta one week after New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman publicly lashed out at the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program (AA, 40-30-18, P. 3).
Schneiderman also was one of the signers of the letter, along with the AGs from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington State and the District of Columbia.
“Please be advised that we will continue to prosecute labor violations to the fullest extent of our authority, both civilly and criminally, regardless of whether employers have participated in the PAID Program,” the attorneys general told Acosta.
“No worker should be required to waive wage theft protections in order to obtain only the partial relief your program is offering, and we intend to pursue every available option to ensure that workers’ rights to fair pay and overtime are protected to the fullest possible extent.”
Their protest looks like empty chest-thumping because federal law bans DOL from providing releases for state law violations, and the PAID program explicitly excludes state wage laws.
In another development, DOL’s Wage and Hour Division issued a detailed guidance on which employers can and can’t take advantage of PAID.
“The PAID program provides employers with a proactive opportunity to resolve potential FLSA liability quickly and at a lower cost than waiting for the letter from plaintiffs’ counsel or a knock on the door from a WHD investigator,” say attorneys for the Littler Mendelson law firm. “However, participating in the program presents some risk and should not be undertaken without guidance from your attorney.”