Wage Theft Prevention and Recovery Act Should Be Wake-Up Call for Employers

By Eric B. Meyer

The proposed U.S. Department of Labor overtime rules are a walk in the park compared to this new “wage theft prevention” bill

That’s because, earlier this month,  Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, introduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act.

According to this HELP press release, this new bill would put a lot of additional sharp fangs into the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What the Wage Recovery Act would do

For starters, the Act would:

  • Require employers to pay all wages owed to an employee (not just minimum wage and overtime);
  • Add more recordkeeping requirements for employers;
  • Make it easier for employees to join collective actions against their employer; employees would have to opt-out, rather than opt-in;
  • Increase the damages for an FLSA violation, in some cases quadrupling the wages owed; and
  • Extend the statute of limitations on FLSA claims.

Could November elections lead to FLSA changes?

Realistically, the support won’t be there in either the House or Senate to push this bill along to President Obama. However, if the November elections result in big wins across the board for the Democrats, don’t be surprised if the new proposed Labor Department overtime rules begin a domino effect of employee-friendly changes to the FLSA.

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So, how confident are you that your business is FLSA compliant?

If it’s anything less than “very,” consider a wage and hour audit conducted by an outside employment lawyer. Better to pay a few bucks now to make it right, then make it rain later when a FLSA lawsuit goes very wrong for your business.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.